When it comes to incorporating a simple auction idea into your fundraising gala, don’t forget about one of the easiest ways to get feedback from your charity auction: surveying your auction guests. I was reminded of this recently while listening to the radio.

On a recent morning show, the DJ was asking his co-hosts and callers about their preferred superhero power. “If you could have one superhuman power,” he’d ask, “What would it be?”

Flying and invisibility were popular, but so was the ability to read minds.

The ability to read minds would be handy at a benefit auction. You could finally learn what guests really thought about your creation. Did they notice the theme? Did they understand where the money was going? Did they mind the cash bar? From a planner’s perspective, we want to know what the guests preferred. Knowing our guests preferences helps us plan a better event.

Some guests will comment about the gala when they check-out. Others will complain to an administrator. Some folks will make an effort to find and compliment the Auction Chair before they leave. But all three of these methods are haphazard ways to track data.

Surveys are an excellent yet underutilized charity auction tool. If you’ve collected email addresses as guests registered, it’s easy to send out an electronic survey to capture quick data about their take on the gala.

Here are some of the questions you might ask:
• Did you attend the gala as a sponsor, as a guest, or as an individual ticket holder?
• What city / suburb is most convenient for you to attend a fundraiser?
• How many fundraisers do you attend in a year?
• What night of the week are you most likely to attend a fundraiser?
• Where did the proceeds of the gala go?

You can also ask guests to rate elements of the night. For instance, on a 5-point scale, you might ask them to rate the registration, check-out, food, dress code, location, facility, benefit auctioneer, auction items, or entertainment.

For high participation in your survey, keep it short. And send your survey promptly, preferably within three to four days of the auction. That way, the gala is still easy for them to remember.

To create your survey, consider SurveyMonkey. It’s a popular service because the format is straightforward and the tool is free, as long as you work within the company’s designated parameters.

If you’ve got an event coming up, I advocate that you design and write your survey now, prior to the auction. Then the survey link will be ready to email the day after the event.

Outside of reading your guests’ minds, a survey is your best method for finding out what your guests most enjoyed about your benefit auction.

About the Author
Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar’s entertaining stories and advice is often picked up by publications (e.g. Town & Country, The Washington Post Magazine, AUCTIONEER, The Eleusis, The Virginia Auctioneer) and television (e.g. E! Style, TLC) where she inspires and teaches volunteers how to hit new fundraising records in their auction galas. Enjoy her FREE Auction Item Guide(listing the 100 best-selling items to sell in your benefit auction) at http://www.RedAppleAuctions.com .

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Posted on 29 September 2011

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