Auctions: A Beginners Guide for Independent Schools


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Auctions: A Beginners Guide for Independent Schools

  1. 1. A Publication of Diamond Mind AuctionsA Beginner’s Guide Creating your Independent School’s First Auction
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTS 1.  Introduction 2.  Best Practices and Planning 3.  The Art of Asking for Donations 4.  Raise the Paddle and Raffles 5.  Selecting Vendors
  3. 3. Auctions: A Beginners Guide Hos$ng  an  auc$on  at  your  school  is  not  a  simple  feat;  however,  with  the  right   planning  and  resources  it  can  lead  to  funded  projects  and  increased  giving.  Bake   sales  are  the  way  of  the  past,  and  schools  are  now  turning  towards  auc$ons  as  a   way  to  raise  funds  and  pull  their  communi$es  together.       This  guide  will  act  as  your  key  to  crea$ng  a  successful  auc$on  for  your  school  by   highligh$ng  the  moving  parts  that  are  involved:       •  Choosing  a  theme   •  Forming  volunteer  teams     •  Event  budgets   •  Marke$ng   •  What  kind  of  bidding  paddles  to  use     Each  piece  of  the  process  contributes  to  how  much  money  is  raised.  AGer  reading   this  guide  you  will  be  able  to  develop  best  prac$ces,  improve  your  payment   flexibility  by  using  mobile  card  readers,  learn  how  to  acquire  items  for  your   auc$on,  and  ask  ques$ons  to  help  you  get  started.  The  guide  is  also  developed   with  the  assump$on  that  your  school  has  not  previously  hosted  an  auc$on;   however,  it  will  include  some  great  informa$on  for  those  who  already  have.  For   those  who  have  planned  auc$ons  in  the  past,  you  will  have  considerably  less   planning  to  do,  especially  if  you  already  have  volunteers  and  a  process  that  can  be   reused.         The  important  thing  to  note  is  that  while  fundraising  is  the  ul$mate  goal,  your  first   auc$on  is  a  stepping-­‐stone  for  growth  year-­‐over-­‐year.  Each  year  that  you   con$nue  to  host  an  auc$on  successfully  will  lead  to  greater  aMendance  numbers   and  funds  raised.  
  4. 4. CHAPTER ONE An Introduction to School Auctions
  5. 5. Planning  for  an  auc$on  won’t  happen  overnight,  let  alone  in  a  week.  You   need  to  develop  a  volunteer  team,  select  a  venue,  get  the  aMen$on  of  your   parents  and  community,  find  items  to  auc$on  off,  and  get  a  process  in  place   for  accep$ng  the  winning  bids.    At  a  minimum,  you  should  develop  a  team   three  months  prior  to  the  auc$on,  and  use  the  preceding  $me  to  plan  out  all   the  details;  however,  if  you  want  to  play  it  safe,  start  planning  a  year  in   advance.  This  will  allow  you  the  flexibility  to  work  around  your  volunteers’   schedules  without  being  too  taxing,  and  build  in  ample  $me  to  market  it  as   well.  Once  you  have  a  $meline  in  place,  start  looking  at  themes.     One  of  the  most  important  factors  for  your  auc$on  is  choosing  a  theme.   Having  a  general  auc$on  is  acceptable,  but  for  your  parents,  alumni,  and   community  to  fully  support  your  cause,  it’s  ideal  to  have  a  specific  mission.         If  you  are  looking  to  improve  the  technology  available  in  your  school,  replace   part  of  a  library,  or  finally  get  rid  of  all  your  chalkboards  for  touch-­‐enabled   boards,  going  into  planning  with  this  mission  in  mind  will  act  is  a  founda$on   to  build  on.  Further,  tying  your  mission  to  a  story  about  how  the  raised  funds   will  posi$vely  affect  the  community,  it  will  draw  in  a  greater  crowd.  Though   the  auc$on  may  be  about  your  school,  bidders  will  be  more  apt  to  give   money  if  it  affects  them.  Top  your  mission  and  story  off  with  a  theme,  and   you  have  an  aMen$on-­‐grabbing  event  that  your  community  will  love  to  be   involved  with.  Finding  volunteers  will  also  be  easier  since  you  will  have  a   beMer  grasp  of  who  can  relate  to  the  theme.     Planning | Themes | Stories
  6. 6. If  you  are  looking  to  improve  the  technology  available  in  your  school,  replace   part  of  a  library,  or  finally  get  rid  of  all  your  chalkboards  for  touch-­‐enabled   boards,  going  into  planning  with  this  mission  in  mind  will  act  is  a  founda$on   to  build  on.  Further,  tying  your  mission  to  a  story  about  how  the  raised  funds   will  posi$vely  affect  their  community,  it  will  draw  in  a  greater  crowd.  Though   the  auc$on  may  be  about  your  school,  bidders  will  be  more  apt  to  give  you   money  if  it  affects  them.  Top  your  mission  and  story  off  with  a  theme,  and   you  have  an  aMen$on-­‐grabbing  event  that  your  community  will  love  to  be   involved  with.  Finding  volunteers  will  also  be  easier  since  you  will  have  a   beMer  grasp  of  who  can  relate  to  the  theme.             Once  you  know  your  mission  and  how  the  resul$ng  funds  will  benefit  your   community,  it  will  be  easier  to  iden$fy  volunteers  and  parents  who  can  make   the  largest  contribu$ons.  Asking  these  people  to  par$cipate  not  only  plants  a   seed  so  that  they  know  their  contribu$on  will  be  valued,  but  you’ll  likely  gain   some  excellent  volunteers  to  help  plan  and  execute  the  auc$on.  Another   important  member  of  your  team  will  be  the  auc$oneer,  which  can  either  be   an  experienced  auc$oneer  or  even  a  local  celebrity.   Story| Volunteers | Theme You will draw in a larger crowd if your story benefits the community
  7. 7. The  last  necessity  to  focus  on  besides  acquiring  items  for  your  live  and  silent   auc$on  is  the  venue.  Some  schools  use  their  own  facili$es  while  others  will   rent  a  beMer  space  that  can  be  beMer  decorated  according  to  the  theme.   Selec$ng  a  venue  is  mostly  dependent  upon  the  cost,  availability,  and  the   number  of  guests  you  expect  will  aMend  the  auc$on.                 An  auc$on  may  ini$ally  seem  rather  costly,  but  with  the  right  amount  of   planning  the  en$re  cost  can  be  covered  through  sponsorships  from  the   community,  admission  to  the  auc$on,  and  even  mini  raffles  throughout  the   night.  If  you  can  find  someone  to  donate  space,  food  and  beverages,  and   create  a  volunteer  team,  a  majority  of  your  costs  will  only  come  in  the  form   of  $me  spent  planning.  Factor  this  in  for  who  you  ini$ally  reach  out  to  when   planning,  as  some  of  your  community  or  parents  may  have  suitable  facili$es.   Venues| Budgets With proper planning and additional sponsors, budgets can be reduced
  8. 8.  1.  Auc$on  commiMee  design  and   opera$on:   •  Which  parent  and  community   volunteers  are  best  suited  for   specific  tasks?   •  How  oGen  should  your  team   meet,  and  when  are  the  best   available  $mes?       2.  Day  of  the  auc$on:   •  What  needs  to  be  in  our  day-­‐of   checklist  to  ensure  each  volunteer   has  a  job?   •  Should  there  be  food  and  drinks?   If  so,  what  kind?   •  Where  should  the  auc$on  be   held?       3.  Event  budget:   •  How  much  do  we  need  to  spend   up  front?  (Food,  venue,   decora$ons,  websites,  marke$ng   material,  etc.)   •  How  much  do  we  need  to  charge   for  admission  to  break  even  or   make  addi$onal  money?       4.  Marke$ng:   •  What  are  the  best  ways  to  reach   our  community?   •  Who  can  build  a  website  for   informa$on  about  the  auc$on  and   let  people  register?   •  Should  we  also  use  social  media  or   other  crea$ve  outlets?       5.  Post-­‐event  follow-­‐up:   •  Were  donors,  sponsors  and   par$cipants  formally  thanked?     •  Have  fundraising  results  been   reported?         Questions For Your Plan Now  that  your  team  has  been  formed,  it’s  $me  to  build  a  plan  around   your  mission,  theme,  and  story.  The  following  are  ques$ons  you  should   ask  your  team  to  develop  a  plan:  
  9. 9. 6.  Silent  Auc$on:   •  Which  items  should  be  in  the   silent  auc$on?   •  How  should  we  accept  bids?   •  What  should  be  the  star$ng  bid?   •  Should  we  have  a  buy  it  now   price?   •  How  should  we  accept  payments?       7.  Live  Auc$on:   •  Who  should  present  the  items  and   take  bids?   •  What  are  the  best  items  we   should  feature?   •  How  should  we  follow  up  with  the   winning  bidders?   •  How  should  we  accept  payments?       8.  Corporate  Sponsors:   •  Who  can  we  ask  for  venue  space?   •  Who  can  we  ask  for  items  to   auc$on?   •  Who  can  we  ask  about  discounted   or  donated  food?   •  Can  someone  be  a  celebrity  bar   tender?       9.  Raise  the  Paddle:   •  Should  we  feature  a  raffle  or  raise   the  paddle  in  the  middle  of  the   live  auc$on?   •  What  should  be  the  specific  call  to   ac$on/project  for  the  money   raised?       10.  Bidders:   •  Who  can  we  talk  to  in  advance  to   help  get  the  bids  moving?   •  If  we  do  use  Raise  the  Paddle,  who   can  we  talk  to  in  advance  to  bid   first?   •  Which  bidders  might  be  open  to   pre-­‐event  commitments  or   establishing  a  challenge  match   pledge?   Questions For Your Plan Now  that  you  have  answered  these  ques$ons  your  team  should  be  able   to  develop  a  plan,  assign  tasks,  and  iden$fy  key  people  and  companies   within  your  community  to  begin  having  conversa$ons  with.    
  10. 10. Auc$on  Room,  Chris$e's  (1808):  Use  this  space  to  provide  credit  to   the  original  photo  or  graphic  creator   Section wrap-up •  Expect to plan your auction over a minimum of three months, ideally one year •  Identify your mission and the story you will tell potential bidders •  Select a theme to make your event more entertaining •  Build a team that has connections •  Find an auctioneer or local celebrity for the live auction •  Select a venue Chapter 1 Wrap up
  11. 11. CHAPTER TWO Best Practices and Polishing Your Plan
  12. 12. Now  that  you  have  a  team,  mission  and  theme,  it’s  $me  to  really  hone  in   and  develop  messaging  around  what  your  community  will  best  respond   to.  One  of  the  most  important  aspects  is  building  your  story,  and   specifically  sta$ng  what  the  funds  will  support.         Once  the  story  is  nailed  down,  marke$ng  the  auc$on  will  be  easier.  The   result  will  be  that  you  can  easily  build  a  website  to  direct  the  community   to  reduce  expenses  because  you  have  a  specific  focus  rather  than  broad   scope,  messaging  will  become  consistent,  and  marke$ng  concepts  will  be   easier  to  $e  together.  On  the  other  hand,  it’s  important  to  note  that   once  you  pick  a  theme,  it  will  be  challenging  to  waver  from  it  and  may   not  appeal  to  everyone  in  your  community.  Remember  that  auc$ons  are   not  a  one-­‐$me  deal,  and  with  this  being  your  first,  it’s  all  about  the   learning  experience.  Simple  will  be  your  best  friend.  That  goes  for  your   messaging,  too.         Use  your  theme  and  message  as  a  guide  for  when  your  auc$on  should   occur.  If  your  auc$on  is  holiday  themed,  add  some  winter  treats  and   decora$ons.  If  you  plan  a  luau,  hold  the  auc$on  during  warmer  months   or  summer.  A  signature  cocktail  can  also  add  a  nice  seasonal  touch  and   reduce  the  cost  by  having  only  a  few  select  beverages.     Messaging | Your Story | Timing
  13. 13. When  it  comes  to  the  day  of  your  auc$on,  it  will  fly  by  in  a  breeze.  You   and  your  team  may  have  spent  nearly  a  year  in  planning;  however,  the   event  itself  should  not  feel  that  way  for  guests.       Mix  a  fun  theme  with  some  beverages  to  get  people  into  the  spirit,  have   some  passed  hors  d'oeuvres  as  the  community  par$cipates  in  the  silent   auc$on,  and  wrap  the  evening  up  with  live  auc$on.  In  all,  the  night  of  the   auc$on  will  take  three-­‐to-­‐five  hours,  depending  on  whether  you  serve   food  and  a  few  other  factors.       Es#mated  Auc#on  Schedule   Setup  and  decorate:  5  pm   Brief  team:  6  pm   Open  Doors:  6:15  pm   Silent  Auc$on,  mingling:  6:20  pm   Sit  down  meal  (op$onal):  7:30  pm   Live  auc$on:  8:30  pm  or  7:30  pm   Addi$onal  Mingling  9:30  pm  or  8:30  pm   Clean  up:  10  pm   Planning | Entertain | Schedule
  14. 14. There  are  several  op$ons  available  for  gekng  auc$on  items:  create   them,  use  exis$ng  resources,  or  ask  for  dona$ons.       Crea$ng  items  for  your  auc$on  will  oGen  appeal  to  parents,  especially  if   the  items  are  made  by  their  children;  however,  this  method  usually   requires  different  items  to  be  included  in  the  live  auc$on  as  these  may   not  appeal  to  your  broader  community.  The  second  op$on  is  to  look  at   what  your  community  already  has  and  package  it  in  such  a  way  that  it   appeals  to  a  broader  group  of  bidders  and  donors.       Exis$ng  resources  can  be  great  auc$on  items.  Is  there  a  local  celebrity   who  can  take  a  winning  bidder  on  a  fishing  excursion?  Is  a  local  chef  able   to  provide  a  behind  the  scenes  look  at  what  they  do  and  a  special   tas$ng?  By  having  a  varied  team  of  personali$es,  you  should  be  able  to   quickly  iden$fy  various  packages  that  would  appeal  to  all  of  your   community.  Many  community  leaders  are  happy  to  provide  their  $me   while  gaining  aMen$on  for  what  they  do.       Auction Item Options
  15. 15. For  silent  auc$ons,  give  your  students  an  art  project  to  work  on.  It  can  be   anything  from  pain$ng,  woodwork,  or  even  a  collec$on  of  school   branded  apparel  that  has  been  fashioned  into  a  work  of  art.       Alumni  and  parents  will  love  the  ability  to  purchase  something  that   represents  their  community,  school,  and  the  students,  too.  Some  of  the   more  common  items  included  in  a  silent  auc$on  are  giG  cards.       GiG  cards  don’t  always  do  well,  and  more  oGen  than  not  the  bids  do  not   exceed  the  cards’  face  value.  However,  giG  cards  are  oGen  easy  to   acquire.       Consider  community  items  such  as  a  cooking  class  lead  by  the  principal,  a   car  wash  by  one  of  your  sport  teams,  or  even  a  fitness  class  lead  by  your   clergy.  When  it  comes  to  acquiring  material  items  for  your  auc$on,  it  will   require  a  bit  more  finesse.  Your  messaging  will  play  a  key  role,  and  there   is  an  art  to  asking  for  dona$ons.   Auction Item Ideas
  16. 16. Auc$on  Room,  Chris$e's  (1808):  Use  this  space  to  provide  credit  to   the  original  photo  or  graphic  creator   Section wrap-up •  Know your messaging, theme, and plan for the auction •  Create an elevator pitch •  Develop an estimated schedule for the auction day •  Look into simplified payment solutions •  Find auction items from within your community, and get creative about it Chapter 2 Wrap up
  17. 17. CHAPTER THREE The Art of Asking for Donations and Bidders
  18. 18. Learning from History No  maMer  how  well  you  decorate  your  func$on  room  or  nail  your   theme,  your  auc$on’s  success  is  determined  by  how  much  money  you   bring  in  for  your  school.    Ul$mately,  every  penny  earned  comes  from   the  work  you  and  your  team  do  in  the  months  leading  up  to  your  event.   You  need  to  electrify  aMendees,  and  you  must  master  the  art  of  directly   asking  for  dona$ons  from  poten$al  donors.     So  what  do  you  do  if  the  hard  sell  is  outside  of  your  comfort  zone?  It’s   not  a  problem  according  to  legendary  salesman  and  rela$onship   developer  Dale  Carnegie:   -­‐  Dale  Carnegie   “Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.” Start  by  fanning  the  flames.  You  have  stepped  up  to  this  role  because   you  believe  in  your  school,  and  your  school  believes  in  you.  
  19. 19. Before  you  reach  out  to  donors,  answer  these  ques$ons:     1.  Why  is  this  school  such  a  high  priority  for  me?   2.  What  does  this  school  give  my  children  and  my  community?   3.  What  sets  this  school  apart  from  other  similar  ins$tu$ons?   4.  Why  is  the  par$cular  ac$vity  you  are  seeking  funds  for  cri$cal   to  the  school’s  mission?   Once  you  know  the  answers,  develop  a  60-­‐second  elevator  pitch   about  how  and  why  your  school  and  the  auc$on  maMer.  This  will   be  your  most  important  sales  and  marke$ng  tool.  Once  you  know   your  message,  $e  it  directly  back  to  your  mission  and  theme.  The   result  will  be  a  winning  trifecta  that  consists  of  dona$ons,   interest,  and  volunteer  involvement.   The Elevator Pitch
  20. 20. Plant Bidders Nothing  deflates  the  energy  around  a  live  auc$on  more  quickly  than  a  failure   to  get  an  opening  bid  or  a  pledge  at  your  highest  giving  level.  Conversely,   robust  and  enthusias$c  bidders  will  encourage  the  en$re  room,  and  s$mulate   other  aMendees  to  give.                       You  may  be  surprised  to  hear  that  this  does  not  have  to  be  leG  to  chance.   Savvy  auc$on  chairs  cul$vate  their  high  bidders  well  in  advance  of  the  big   night.  To  lock  in  a  high  bidder  before  your  big  night,  iden$fy  which  bidders   might  be  amenable  to  pre-­‐event  commitments.  Once  you  have  your  list,   iden$fy  your  team  member  with  the  best  rela$onship  to  each  bidder,  perfect   your  pitch  and  reach  out.   Ensure your bids start off strong by planting bidders you’ve already spoken with
  21. 21. Auc$on  Room,  Chris$e's  (1808):  Use  this  space  to  provide  credit  to   the  original  photo  or  graphic  creator   Section wrap-up •  Understand what your community wants •  Tie fund raising to improving the community •  Create an elevator pitch customized to each potential donor •  To ensure bidding goes smooth, gauge interest in advance and plant bidders Chapter 3 Wrap up
  22. 22. CHAPTER FOUR Raise the Paddle and Raffle Activities
  23. 23. Raise the Paddle A  terrific  way  to  increase  dona$ons  with  minimal  effort  is  to   include  a  Raise-­‐the-­‐Paddle  ac$vity.  You  may  have  heard  of  this   referred  to  as  a  Paddle  Call,  Cash  Call,  Fund-­‐A-­‐  Need,  Flurry,  or   Special  Appeal.  Whatever  the  name,  the  purpose  is  simple:  during   the  live  auc$on  por$on  of  your  program,  the  auc$oneer   announces  a  special  appeal  for  a  discrete  purpose,  and  then  asks   the  audience  to  raise  their  paddles  to  give  at  different  levels  to  this   project.       Ideally,  a  small  group  of  donors  gives  at  the  largest  level  ($1,000  -­‐   $10,000  or  more  depending  on  your  community)  inspiring  more   donors  to  give  at  each  successively  lower  level.  By  establishing  a   range  of  giving  levels,  the  format  encourages  more  guests  to  raise   their  paddles,  hopefully  spurring  almost  everyone  in  the  room  to   join  in.  Raise  the  Paddle  are  oGen  successful  because  they   promote  camaraderie  and  healthy  compe$$on  amongst  the   aMendees.  
  24. 24. Raise the Paddle | Raffles To  maximize  the  power  of  the  paddle,  choose  a  compelling,  but   emo$onally  gripping  purpose  for  a  short  and  quick  fundraising  appeal   such  as  a  large  piece  of  equipment,  a  scholarship  fund,  or  a  special   project.  Be  sure  to  market  your  appeal  item  and  explain  the  Raise  the   Paddle  ahead  of  $me  in  all  of  your  pre-­‐  auc$on  marke$ng  including  your   signage,  display  tables,  etc.    Ensure  you  are  also  sekng  appropriate  levels   for  your  school.         Establish  levels  of  giving  that  you  can  reasonably  expect  par$cipa$on  in.   When  choosing,  your  high  and  low  price  points  are  cri$cal.  In  choosing   your  high  end,  be  sure  to  incorporate  planted  bidders  and  leverage  the   $ming.  Time  the  Raise  the  Paddle  strategically  so  that  it  takes  place  near   the  middle  or  second  half  of  the  program  to  re-­‐energize  the  room.  These   ac$vi$es  should  only  last  about  2-­‐3  minutes.  Raffles  work  in  a  similar  way,   in  that  they  are  great  for  helping  to  reenergize  the  room.       At  the  start  of  the  auc$on  and  as  aMendees  join,  one  of  the  first  things   offered  should  be  a  raffle  $cket.  Raffles  allow  you  to  set  a  small  entry  fee,   but  are  appealing  since  both  the  aMendee  and  your  school  split  the  pot.   Having  one  or  two  raffles  amidst  the  live  auc$on  help  cleanse  the  bidding   palate,  and  also  keep  people  around  through  the  en$re  event.  
  25. 25. Auc$on  Room,  Chris$e's  (1808):  Use  this  space  to  provide  credit  to   the  original  photo  or  graphic  creator   Section wrap-up •  Breaks keep the excitement up •  Raise the Paddle helps to increase giving in a simple way •  Always have a bidder seeded for Raise the Paddle activities •  Raffles will make your attendees happy while increasing giving Chapter 4 Wrap up
  26. 26. CHAPTER FIVE Selecting the best Vendors for Your School
  27. 27. Simplify Your Payment Options An  event  that  focuses  on  bringing  in  money  will  mean  that   you  will  have  a  lot  to  track,  and  anything  that  you  can  do  to   ease  a  donors  ability  to  pay  is  ideal.  Rather  than  trying  to   manually  write  down  what  check  or  stack  of  cash  goes  with   what  donor  and  item,  accept  credit  cards  using  a  mobile   reader.  Mobile  readers  are  affordable  solu$ons  that  not  only   save  you  planning  and  accoun$ng  $me,  but  it  also  makes  it   easier  for  donors  to  contribute  funds.       Mobile  readers  make  one  of  the  most  daun$ng  follow  up   tasks  for  auc$ons  a  simple,  streamlined  process.  Between   quickly  sending  donor  receipts  via  email,  using  your  current   merchant  account,  improving  security  of  finances  with  an   encrypted  system,  and  simply  using  a  smartphone  or  tablet   that  you  already  have  available.             Looking  for  a  mobile   card  reader?  Check  out   Diamond  Mind’s   various  solu$ons   hMp://$onmr  
  28. 28. Payments and Software A  dollar  saved  is  a  dollar  earned.  Be  sure  to  bring  a  cri$cal   eye  to  all  the  costs  involved  in  your  auc$on  as  you  prepare   your  event  budget.  You  already  know  to  examine  the  costs   for  the  venue,  catering,  marke$ng,  décor,  entertainment   and  professional  auc$oneer  services;  however,  there  is  an   oGen-­‐overlooked  hidden  cost  that  may  save  you  a  significant   amount  of  money,  electronic  payments.       There  are  also  several  auc$on  soGware  solu$ons  throughout   the  independent  school  community  that  offer  to  collect  and   process  electronic  payments  as  part  of  their  auc$on  services.   However,  chances  are  good  that  if  you  look  carefully  at  the   total  cost  of  using  the  auc$on  company’s  process  you  will   end  up  spending  much  more  than  you  should.  The  more   your  auc$on  raises,  the  greater  poten$al  savings  if  you  s$ck   with  a  payment  expert  such  as  Diamond  Mind  for  this  cri$cal   piece  of  your  event.    
  29. 29. Independent School ePayment Solutions When hosting an auction, make your process easier by using Diamond Mind ePayment processing and our mobile payment solutions. To learn more, contact a Diamond Mind representative today. Speak with a Subject Matter Expert today 888-566-0945 X 777