Auction Best Practices – How to Obtain Compelling Items?

The success of an auction depends on the quality of the items put up for bidding. The items you include can determine the amount of interest your event gets from the general public. At the same time, they can give you an idea of how much you can raise through the event.

Are you planning to put up a fundraiser for your school, group, or organization? Experienced professionals in auction management share some advice for selecting the best items that would generate the most buzz for your event.

1. Know your Market

Get to know the people who plan to attend and take part in your auction. More established non-profit organizations, whether new or established, have what is known as a donor database. A donor database is the lifeblood of any non-profit group.

The database includes information that allows the organization to learn more about its donors. Other than the donor’s contact details, it may include how much they have donated, the degree of involvement, and interests, among others. By examining the data, you will know what were the most popular items in past auctions or get potential ideas for future items.

For new non-profits or organizations looking into conducting several fundraising events, it may be worth your while to invest in auction software. Mobile apps make it easier to manage auctions, including collecting donor data, promoting the event, managing procured items, selling tickets, sending bids for auction items for the fundraising event, and more.

2. Build your procurement Team

Put together a team of people whose only responsibility is to procure items. Depending on the structure of your group, you could assign staff, look for volunteers, or use a combination of the two.

When building your team, look for people with experience in acquiring donations or sponsorships from individuals and businesses alike. It may be worth considering people who have large social groups or love talking to people. Given the amount of convincing involved in asking for donations and items to auction off, you want people who are at least comfortable being around others.

Experts advise allocating at least nine months just for procuring auction-worthy items. Securing items for the auction takes a lot of time and effort, so assemble your team months in advance to give them as much time as possible to do their work.

3. Calculate your fundraising Goal

Establishing an achievable fundraising goal gives you a more concrete idea of what items to procure, the quality, and the quantity to achieve it. The procurement process requires acquiring the right type and amount of stuff. To reach your objective, you will need to determine the retail value price and estimated value for each item.

The Suggested Retail Value is the current market price of the item. In the case of bundles, the price of each item is added to get the total package value. Some people base their bids on the SRV, so disclosing this amount can help them adjust their bids accordingly.

Another part of the assessment is the Estimated Yield. The Estimated Yield is the projected profits from the sale of the item. When calculating this value, take into account any cost incurred to get that item, such as transportation, inspection fees, acquiring authenticity certificates and the like.

Keep a database of the acquired items that includes these values. By doing so, you can have a better idea of how far you are from your goal and what else you need to achieve it.

4. Schedule a Brainstorming Session

Reserve at least one meeting with your colleagues or staff to bounce off ideas and share info. Brainstorming sessions offer the opportunity to come up with biddable items. At this point, all ideas are fair game, so list down each one without any judgment.

Some of the more common items include designer items, wine, and art. But if you’re planning to do it regularly or annually, you need to go beyond the usual offerings. For instance, why not offer museum tickets, dining club memberships, fitness classes, or even a hot air balloon ride? It’s very important to have a diverse catalog of items in your auction to keep it fresh and to have something for everyone.

Bidders these days are more into experiences than physical items. With this in mind, try reaching out to the businesses in your local community. What they offer can give you additional ideas for what you can include in your auction.

Is there a bakery nearby? Maybe the owners are willing to offer a voucher the winner can use to buy goodies or sign up for a free baking class. The possibilities are limitless if you look around and go beyond the usual offerings.

5. Create a Balance

Sometimes you may acquire a few high-ticket items such as a lavish dinner in a fine dining restaurant. However, more often than not, you get a lot of low-value objects. All donations are beneficial to your cause, but what can you do in such situations?

Auctioning off each item on its own won’t help in your efforts to achieve your fundraising goal. Instead of creating a separate round for each, why not create a themed bundle or package? Gift baskets fall within this category.

For instance, you can create a basket that includes a bottle of wine, wine glasses, some chocolates, cheese, small plates, and small cheese forks. As a bundle, you can generate more bids and profit than if you were to auction off each item separately.

The same can be done with free services. Lunch at a pizza place can be paired with free entrance to a nearby theme park, for instance. Such a bundle would be enticing for families or small groups of friends.

6. Set a limit

As a general rule, there should be no more than one auction item for every two guests. With 100 guests, the maximum number of items should be between 40 and 50.

Setting a limit creates a feeling of scarcity and encourages friendly competition between bidders. When people are aware that not everyone will bring home an item, you’ll end up with more determined people and more intense bidding action.

With the help of these tips, you can be on your way to procuring items that will capture the attention of bidders in your community. If you need more assistance, contact an auction management team to get your event up and running.

Author’s Bio: Darran Brown is the CEO and Founder of Go Charity. A graduate of UMASS Amherst, Darran has spent the last 20 years managing auctions across the United States. Having run some of the most successful live and silent auctions in the US, Darran has the insider know-how to every aspect of the industry. From memorabilia to trips and experience hospitality to fundraising 101, Darran is the leading expert on auction management and fundraising success.