As you begin planing your event, you need to ask yourself a few simple questions:
First, who has the money? USA Today and CBS news recently released the results of a significant study that revealed some startling facts.
People born between 1946 and 1964 represent 26% of the population and these 117 million people spent $2.9 TRILLION last year. During that same period, the 183 million Americans under 50 spent $3.3 TRILLION. Over the last decade, spending by Baby Boomers (people over 50) increased by 45% while spending by Americans under 50 increased by only 6%. Clearly, this older demographic has accumulated wealth during their lifetime and unlike their parents...they are spending it.
This brings me to the next question...Who is on your committee? Over the last few years, I have witnessed a dramatic shift as the Boomers left communities, passing the torch to a next, much younger generation. Some of those committees then planned a event targeted at their generation and while it was a "Great Party", the financial results were lower than previous years. Blame is being placed on our recent economy, and while that may account for some of the lowered results, a bigger factor could be an event aimed at the wrong target audience. As you chart the course of your event, considering these issues is time well spent.
It is easy and fun to talk about the events I conduct that raise enormous sums of money, but most committees have smaller goals and may have a hard time relating to 550 guests, 56 items and $400K in the Live auction. One of my recent galas achieved this result in my 2nd year of association with them. In year One this committee had a pre-sale goal of $50K and the Live auction total was $98,750.
When I first sat down with them, they had no goal. So item number one on your agenda should be a dollar goal. "We want to raise as much as we can" is not a definite goal; but its the answer most committees give me when we first meet. So pick a number.
Next, you need to know that your guests will stay seated for a Live auction a maximum of about 90 minutes. Longer than that causes impatience and loss of attention. By 10:30 or 11PM they want to be checked out and heading for home.
Every auctioneer works at a different pace and every type auction moves at a different pace. Farm, Household, Antique, Art, Car even Horse auctions all have their own pace and people who attend those auctions have a comfort level about the atomsphere and whats going on.
Guests at a charity auction gala may not be familar with an auction chant or the auction process. So you can't rattle through items as fast and expect to be successful. Successful charity auctioneers pace themselves for a gala crowd and alter the speed and clarity of their chant to make your guests more comfortable with the bidding process.
Your high bidder isn't who makes you money. It's all the other bidders who get the price higher that makes your event successful. The High Bidder just gets to pay for the item. So more bidders equals more money. My favorite person at these auctions is someone who will bid on everything and may not buy anything.
Most of my galas offer 25 or fewer items in the Live auction. I begin between 8:30 and 9PM and conclude before 10:30.
So set a goal for the Live auction. Divide that goal by the number of items you think you can secure (25 or fewer) and you have the average value of the items you need for your acquisition committee.
Watch this section for more helpful hints and Latest News.
In the meantime dream about one of those magical events for your organization that raises a massive sum. I've started with committees at ground zero and been there. I can show you the way.