June 25, 2014

The Most Overlooked A/V Item at a Fundraising Auction

It’s so simple, and yet so easy to overlook. You spend months planning every detail of an auction. Hours and hours laboring over procuring silent auction items, packaging them into attractive lots, and creating beautiful display tables. You work out the timing to the minute, carefully strategizing over the order and timing for closing each silent auction table and moving your guests into the ballroom for dinner and the main program.

And here’s where I see many organizations drop a step in the planning. How do you propose to close auction tables? Announcements via auctioneer or emcee? Perfect. Did you plan your a/v accordingly so that those announcements can be heard?

Many, though not all, fundraising auctions are conducted in two spaces. You have a space for the silent auction and reception and a second space for the dinner and live auction. Obviously a lot of attention is paid to the a/v components in the main event space. You want good lighting to enhance the atmosphere, you want your speakers to be heard, you may be playing a video to support your fundraising pitch, and you may have a band or DJ supplying music for dancing at the end of the evening.

But your silent auction area should not be overlooked. If you plan to have any announcements during the silent auction, make sure you include this in your discussions when you start talking about your sound needs with your a/v vendor. There should never be an assumption that if you have sound arranged in your ballroom, that you’ll have the same sound capabilities in your silent auction area. It takes extra cable, extra speakers, and sometimes a dedicated soundboard. (This is also an area that is vulnerable to tight budgets. If you want the extra sound, yes, you need to spend the money on the extra equipment.)

So, why is this such a big deal?

Think about it. Your guests are there to support your organization, but also to have a good time. They’re not going to be watching the clock, counting down the minutes until auction tables close and the ballroom opens. (If they are, you have other issues.) They’re going to be drinking and mingling and talking with friends in between all of the generous bidding. Anyone who has ever been to an auction knows that the bulk of the bidding on silent auction items happens in the last minutes. We’ve seen people lurk around a bid sheet, fighting off their competition, determined to be the highest final bidder.

If there’s no way to clearly communicate to guests that tables are closing, you lose that urgency. You can’t create that sense of healthy competition and excitement of the countdown to closing. If warnings and announcements of table closings can’t be heard by your guests, they happen in the void, and you leave money on the table. You need a clear, audible source for announcements. Not a volunteer standing in the corner of the room yelling as loud as they can and not simply swooping in and pulling bid sheets at a pre-determined time.

It doesn’t take much and it won’t add a significant cost to your overall budget, but it will cost you funds if you let this all important detail slip through the cracks.

Categories: Auction Fundraising Logistics | Tags: | Posted by: admin