Organising a live auction for charity can be a huge undertaking. With so many different tasks to consider and the potential to make much-needed funds for your organisation, it pays to have a comprehensive plan in place.
If you’re currently in the initial stages of thinking about hosting a live charity auction, then you’re in the right place to get the information and advice that you need. For those who are ready to move ahead with their plans and get the ball rolling, you can reach out to us now for a chat about your event!
What is a Live Auction?
Live charity auctions are not only a wonderful way to raise money but are also an exciting opportunity to get your supporters together. These events can be great fun for the people who are already aware of your mission and are also an effective way to attract attention from new potential donors.
During the event, an auctioneer will present your auction lots to attendees who can place their bids on the items they desire. Bids are generally either placed by simply shouting out an amount or raising a paddle to indicate an increased bid. The fast-paced nature of the bidding process means that attendees are engaged with the bidding activity and enjoy the atmosphere.
Competing on auction lots can be great fun for guests, especially when they have their hearts set on a particular item. And, of course, this friendly competition also naturally drives up the final price of the item!
Planning a Live Auction
To make sure you maximise your event potential and provide the best experience for everyone in attendance, you’ll want to follow some simple guidelines for planning your live auction.
- Choose Your Goal Amount
- Set a Budget
- Hire a Professional Fundraising Service
- Obtain Auction Lots
- Find an Auctioneer
- Decide on a Venue and Date
- Promote Your Live Auction
- Get Ready to Enjoy the Event
1. Choose Your Goal Amount
Deciding how much money you want to raise for your live auction event is the very first step. With this figure in mind, you’ll be better informed to make all of the other choices involved with organising your event, such as which auction items to obtain and where to host the event.
While deciding your goal amount, consider how much money it’s feasible to raise through an event like this, as well as how much money you might raise at other events during the year. It’s likely that your charity aims to make a certain amount of money annually, so try to decide realistically how much your live auction needs to contribute to this number.
2. Set a Budget
Sticking to a budget is a sensible way to make sure that you enjoy a good financial return from the event.
When setting your budget, make sure you plan for any additional costs. Even when you think you’ve budgeted for any and all eventualities, it could still be the case that you need to pay for something unexpected.
Having money left over is much better than going over budget, so plan to be prepared!
3. Hire a Professional Fundraising Service
Planning a live auction is no small feat and it’s advisable to hire a professional fundraising service to help.
This is where we can come in and take the reins to guide your event in the best direction. Our professional team will work closely with you to ensure all of your needs are met and your fundraising goals are achieved!
Contact us now to discuss your unique requirements and find out how we can help.
4. Obtain Auction Lots
Obtaining auction lots is a part of the planning process that can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work!
If you’ve heeded the advice of the previous step and hired a professional fundraising service, then you might not have to take responsibility for this task. However, if you are undertaking this step yourself, then you’ll want to have a plan in place before you start reaching out to potential donors.
Create a list of all of your existing corporate donors and note what products or services they provide. This will help you decide who the best organisations are to reach out to for requesting donated items.
When you work with our team at Full Event Fundraising for your live auction, we’ll provide you with a wide range of exciting auction lots, so you don’t have to worry about this at all!
5. Find an Auctioneer/Emcee
This might seem like a small part of the overall planning process, but your choice of auctioneer or emcee is incredibly important. This will essentially be the person hosting the main part of your fundraising event, so you’ll want someone who can do the job well!
A great auctioneer is someone who can keep the audience engaged and easily drum up interest in the auction lots on offer. They should be able to answer any questions about the items and also entertain the crowd in other ways.
If you hire the wrong person for the job, then this could impact the success of your entire event.
6. Decide on a Venue and a Date
With a lot of the hard work now under control, you can set your sights on finding the perfect venue and deciding when your live auction is going to take place.
It’s wise to give yourself at least six months to organise your auction, so ensure that your chosen date allows you this time.
Before booking a venue, make sure you’ve considered all of your ne appropriately. You’ll need to have ample space for all of your guests and you’ll also need an area for the live auction itself to take place. Having a stage for this is helpful but by no means essential. Just be sure that your guests can clearly see the items on offer and have a clear view of the auctioneer/emcee.
In an attempt to save time, you might be tempted to hire a venue without checking it out yourself in person. Although it’s possible to get a good feel for a place by doing an online virtual tour, this is no substitute for a real visit.
Take the time to do this so you can ensure that your chosen venue is definitely a perfect fit. Try to visualise how everything will flow together during the event and how you’ll use the space.
7. Promote Your Live Auction
Promoting your event to sell tickets is naturally one of the last steps, but it’s also one of the most important. Ticket sales can make up a good portion of your final fundraising amount for the event, so be sure to put the work in to get the message out.
Reaching out to your existing supporters and donors is a great first step. You can do this via an email invitation or with a phone call for a more personal touch.
Creating a Facebook Event is a great way to promote your live charity auction and reach new audiences. A Facebook Event is also a great place to tease the items that will be available at your auction as you can post photos to generate interest.
As well as posting photos on Facebook of items to be auctioned, you can also use your event page to share snaps from previous events. This will help potential attendees get a better idea about what to expect and might encourage them to purchase a ticket.
8. Get Ready to Enjoy the Event
Now that your live auction is planned and organised, you can start looking forward to the event.
There will naturally be ongoing admin and organisation tasks to give your attention to in the run up to your live auction. Staying on top of these tasks as they come up is the best way to ensure your event runs smoothly.
Make sure everyone involved knows what their roles are and that all of your chosen auction items are available and ready to go!
Here you can firead some frequently-asked questions about organising a live auction. If you have additional questions, then be sure to contact us directly or leave a comment below.
Are donations to charity auctions tax deductible?
You may come across this question while you’re soliciting donations to be auctioned at your event. Check out this great resource for full details!
Can you do an auction on Zoom?
It’s possible to hold a live auction on Zoom but the organisational steps will naturally be different to those mentioned in this article.
Online fundraising events are a fantastic way to raise money and are often more cost-effective than in-person events, so you may want to explore this route. Why not read our previous post – 14 Fantastic Online Fundraising Ideas – to get inspired!
What’s the difference between a live auction and a silent auction?
A live auction is usually an in-person event that’s hosted by an auctioneer. People make bids out loud and on one auction item at a time, with the winner being immediately apparent. On the other hand, a silent auction involves bids being placed in a silent way, usually by sealed bid brochure or electronic bidding. Guests at a silent auction can look at all of the items on offer before placing bids on the ones they want. The winner of each lot is revealed at the end of the event.