Benefit Auction Ideas
By: Sherry Truhlar of RedAppleAuctions
Here's a conversation that will crop up with a few of my clients each year.
"Sherry, can we set opening bids? This item is worth $2500 and that’s worth $1000. Where are you going to start the bidding?"
"It doesn’t matter where I start the bidding,” I’ll counter. “It matters where I FINISH the bidding.”
Isn’t that true?! Think about the auction you planned last year. My guess is that you remember a few of the item sales. If something sold exceptionally high, you might first recall that item’s sale price. Conversely, if an item sold poorly, you might recall that lower final sale, too.
But do you remember what the opening bid was on those items? Probably not. That’s because at auctions, bidders and donors recall the final sale price of the item, but not the opening bid.
"That vacation sold for $4500," one will say. Another adds, "I couldn't believe it when she sold that dinner for $2000!" No one says, "I can't believe that item started at $500!"
No one says that because no one notices the first number. They notice the last number; the final price.
To a degree, I understand the auction planner's sentiment. If you're responsible for planning an event, there may be a desire to control as much as possible to ensure the gala flows as intended. It’s natural for you to ask the question, because there may be a belief that a higher opening bid will equate to a higher closing bid. (It doesn’t.)
But consider this: shouldn’t the professionals manage their respective roles? Once you’ve hired an excellent caterer, I know you don’t wander into the kitchen and tell the chef he needs more salt in the sauce. And once you’ve hired a great band, you wouldn’t dream of going onstage and telling the pianist to play with more staccato. We let those pros do their job. So it should be with the auctioneer.
Granted, some information should be shared prior to the event. The auctioneer will likely ask for that information. I typically ask questions about the value of the item, the history of the donor, details about any consignment packages, and so forth. But once I’ve got that information, opening bids fall into my job responsibility.
Trust your auctioneer to use his or her judgment on running the auction. And if all else fails, remember this: your guests only remember the sale price anyway.
Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions is an auction educator and award-winning benefit auctioneer who works nationally overseeing about 50 auctions annually. As an entertaining teacher, her popular “how to design your auction” webinars, DVDs, and reports are used by thousands of planners who want to procure big ticket items, simplify volunteer management, and properly run silent auctions, raffles, and Fund a Needs. She offers many FREE resources to planners, including her popular Item Guide, which is updated annually. Grab your copy at www.RedAppleAuctions.com