By Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions LLC.
Got problems getting auction volunteers energized to do what is needed to be done?
Here’s one tip: Give volunteers something new and creative to learn which simultaneously solves a problem your charity auction is experiencing.
Volunteers will remain engaged if they believe the solution you are sharing is 1) fun and 2) will solve the problem. When it’s fun to solve the problem, your volunteers will do it.
I’ve written before about Volkswagen’s “The Fun Theory” project. The group conducted tests to see if they could influence the public to engage in activities generally considered unpopular, such as:
- throwing trash in a bin instead of on the ground
- obeying the speed limit
- taking the stairs instead of the escalator
The result? When the activity is fun, people will do it again and again… even if it’s kind of a negative for them.
Consider the act of playing the slot machines. Gamblers lose money playing those slots, but they continue to do so because they think it’s fun to push the button and maybe win a jackpot.
Here’s a process I’ve used to engage auction volunteers which might help you work with your team:
- In my initial meeting, we talk about last year’s auction fundraiser. If the topic doesn’t naturally come up, I’ll ask the volunteers what they didn’t like about the event. What were “the issues.”
- Based on those problems, I offer ideas for solutions. (I don’t offer ideas for everything; just ideas for issues identified as problems.)
- As I describe each idea, I note what they respond to. I want their buy-in.
- They’ll execute what is appealing to them; other ideas are abandoned. (Even if it’s my favorite idea, I let it go. The ideas that work best are those that appeal to many, not just me.)
When you start sharing new ideas for the auction, your volunteers’ creative juices start to flow. And when they are invested in the ideas, they will do a better job of executing. (Let’s face it, you become more interested in the condition of the property when your name is on the mortgage!)
If you’re stumped for new auction ideas (maybe you’re new to the Auction Chair role), here’s a resource. Charity Auction Bells & Whistles looks at 10 common problems of auction fundraisers and offers 22 suggestions for addressing those problems with a game, activity or raffle. For instance, maybe you …
- are short on procured items this year. Acquisitions have ‘dried up’ and you need help.
- want to have greater participation in your live auction because you’re tired of the same 10 people always bidding.
- need something that appeals to children because your auction guests are families, not just adults.
- have too many items on your silent auction tables. It’s so cluttered, items don’t sell for high-dollar.
For help with these and other common charity auction problems, visit www.AuctionGames.info.
Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar's entertaining stories and advice is often picked up by publications (e.g. Town & Country, The Washington Post Magazine, AUCTIONEER, The Eleusis, The Virginia Auctioneer) and television (e.g. E! Style, TLC) where she inspires and teaches volunteers how to hit new fundraising records in their auction galas. Enjoy her FREE Auction Item Guide (listing the 100 best-selling items to sell in your benefit auction) at http://www.RedAppleAuctions.com .