During a recent speaking engagement, I mentioned that some participants might want to eliminate their silent auctions and instead offer a well-orchestrated Fund a Need auction.
I wasn’t kidding. Well-orchestrated Fund Silent Auction a Needs surpass the silent auction revenue at a number of my clients’ galas. And a growing number of my clients are keen to eliminate their silent auctions.
For instance, one client has a large event (over 800 guests) and offers 80 to 100 items in her silent auction. She called me one day to discuss this. Here was our conversation.
SHE: “I’m running some numbers. Do you think we could get rid of the silent auction and make up the difference by adding a few more live auction items and improving the Fund a Need?”
ME: “Why do you want to get rid of the silent auction?”
SHE: “Because it’s a huge, time-sucking, pain in my rear and it only makes us $XX,XXX.”
ME: “Tell me how you really feel… ”
She’s not my only client with this “kill it” attitude.
Another client eliminated her silent auction years ago. Her 300 guests enjoy a raffle during the reception period. No silent auction. No games. She offers nothing but a raffle.
“I HATE silent auctions,” she confided in me the first year we worked together, “Oh how I hate them.”
It will depend on your gala as to whether it makes sense to cancel the silent auction.
With the first client I mentioned, the silent auction has been kept. With the other client, she’s never offered one and has no plans to.
Here’s one thing I know. If you’re going to run a Fund A Need auction, don’t assume that because you’ve observed it a couple times at other galas, you understand the mechanics of it. To do so would be like saying that you — as a guest at a wedding — understand what the bride is thinking.
Honey, you have no idea what the bride is thinking.
Think about it. The bride knows everything happening behind the scenes. As a guest, you lack that information.
The bride noticed that the caterer swapped out the portobellos in the appetizers for cheaper white cap mushrooms.
The bride knows Aunt Ellen is unhappy with the seating chart and has demanded to sit at a different table, away from cousin Margo.
The bride got a phone call telling her the band is stuck in traffic.
The bride knows that she’s suffering through a blister on her right heel.
The bride isn’t happy about any of these developments. Yet as a guest at her wedding, you’re unaware.
There you sit, starry-eyed and enjoying the celebration. You probably think the bride looks lovely. And you’re swallowing those appetizers without realizing the mushrooms are all wrong.
To be blunt, you don’t know what the heck is going on! You’re oblivious because you weren’t working behind the scenes.
When it comes to planning a Fund a Need, that’s how most people are. Oblivious.
Most auction guests don’t have any idea how to properly run an auction or its many components, like a Fund a Need. It’s because attending an auction is different than planning an auction.
(Just like attending a wedding is different than being the bride.)
When one of those guests becomes responsible for planning a Fund a Need, she thinks, “Oh, I went to a gala six months ago where I saw them do that. I know how to do it.”