25 Live Fundraising Auction Tips

25 Live Fundraising Auction Tips

1.   Date of Event:  Pick a night that most committed donors don’t have other events to attend in your community.  Once that date is established, have it as an annual event each year so guests can plan on it.
2.  The Mission of the Event:  The mission of the fundraising organization must be prominently stated for all guests as they need to know why they are being asked to give.   Donors also need to know how the funds raised will be used.
3.  Professional Auctioneer:  A Charity Auctioneer should be chosen for a fundraising event.  Do not rely on a volunteer, an Emcee, or a traditional auctioneer that does not specialize in benefit auctions.  Free auctioneers will cost you in the long run.

4.  Professional Bid Spotters:  A fundraising auctioneer should supply his own professional bid spotters that will support him while he is on stage.  Bid Spotters are trained to enhance bidding from the guests.

5.  Live Auction Items:  The items should be carefully placed in an order that will assure the best possible outcome.  Ask your Charity Auctioneer to help order the items for success.
6.  Live Auction Position:    Hold your live auction early in the evening.  Schedule awards, speakers, and raffle winners after the live auction.
7.  Live Auction Length:    Your live auction should be short, no more than 30 minutes.  7-9 items are an attainable goal.

8.  Live Items should include experiences:  One-of-a-kind of experiences like a sold out concert, or a chef’s experience in your home will build excitement and raise top dollar from your donors.   Exotic vacations are also a big hit and consignment options are popular.
9.  Marketing:    Build interest by marketing and advertising your best items before the event.  Use social media to help in this area.
10. Listing Auction Item: Create a program with no prices listed as a retail value of each item.  Use professional pictures and a short summary to entice your guests to bid.
11.  Slide Display: Create a slide program to present each live auction item during the live auction.
12.  Stage/Audience Lighting:   Keep the stage brightly lit during your live auction. Do not have spotlights on the Auctioneer as he/she needs to see the audience.  Lights in the room should be fully illuminated.
13.  Sound System:   A quality sound system is a must.

14.  Fund Appeal/Direct Ask – Fund Appeals or a paddle raise is an effective way to raise more money from people who did not win items in the live or silent auction.  Remember, you don’t get, if you don’t ask.

15.  Bid Recorders:   Use multiple bid recorders and have them stationed near the stage.

16.  Mobile Bidding:  Mobile bidding works well with the right crowd.  Things to think about when using this technology is having quality wifi in all rooms of the event and having charging tables for cell phones.

17.  Centerpieces and Fluff: Don’t waste money (get them donated)  on using flowers as centerpieces on your dinner tables unless you have a way to sell them at the end of the evening for a profit.

18.  Thank Your Donors and Sponsors:   Thank them publicly at your event.

19.  Make the Event Memorable:  People give to people, not charities.  Make sure the Board Members, Committee, and Volunteers are interacting with all guests and the evening is filled with positive energy.

20.  Make the program short after the live Auction:  After a fun filled auction, most guests are ready for a rap up.  Don’t continue by having too many speakers that take the fun out of the night.  

21.  Have an Estimated Money Raised for the Evening:  The last public announcement should be an estimated money amount raised for the evening with thanking everyone who helped accomplish the goal.

22.  Have a follow-up committee meeting:  This is a celebration time to relax and thank everyone who helped in making the event a success.  Have a brainstorming session of ideas that went well, and what needs to improve on.

23.  Start Planning Next Year’s Fundraising Event:  That’s right.  No time like the present.

24.  Thank Yous:  Personal Thank you notes are a nice touch to Sponsors, Donors, Volunteers, Vendors, or anyone who deserves a little shout-out.

25.  Start booking your Vendors and Venue for next year’s event:  The best venues, auctioneers, and bands start booking a year out so contract them early to guarantee another successful fundraising event.


Debbie and Ron are fundraising auctioneers for Impact Auctions that would love to help your next event be even more successful.  Contact Debbie at 407.267.8988 for a free consultation.  Contact us for award-winning experiences for your auction or silent auction.

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