Auction BidThe goal for an auction is to raise money, plain and simple. However, at many auctions, the catalog of items for bid may number far less than the number of attendees at the event. Hosting a Raise the Paddle Special Appeal will encourage every attendee to give a little extra at the event.

A Special Appeal is an opportunity during the auction for the auctioneer to take a moment to bring the focus of the evening back on the charity. A quick reflection on the reason for the evening will inspire and motivate attendees to dig deep in their pockets and make a difference for the charity.

Here are some reasons to host a Special Appeal in your auction:

  • It’s a great way to involve every attendee at your event and turn them into donors
  • It helps provide funding for a new project, such as a low-cost spay/ neuter clinic, repairing a building or adding a new school playground.
  • Encourages event attendees to Sponsor various levels of your operation, from $50 for a shelter cat’s spay surgery to $500 for new band instruments in schools (adjust values for your local prices)
  • Encourage extra giving to meet a matching challenge grant or donation
  • Create a 100% tax deductible opportunity for giving during this special event!

The best time to host the Special Appeal is before you are half way through your auction, before your attendees start to lose interest and head back to the buffet tables. Using the Bell Curve strategy, you’ll still be ramping up to the premiere items on your roster. Place the Special Appeal just after a highly successful item that brought in several high dollar bids with great excitement. You want your audience to think high dollar amounts when pledging their support to your charity.

If you place the Special Appeal after the highest dollar items, people may not be as generous with the high dollar gifts because they’ve already won a high ticket item and are factoring that into the equation. But, by placing the Special Appeal before those highest ticket items, the donors will still feel drawn to bid competitively on those items, even after pledging a high amount in the Special Appeal.

Your auctioneer (or a great public speaker from your group) will announce that there are plenty of wonderful items available for bid in just a few moments, but right now, we’re going to pause for a moment to reflect on the charity’s mission. It will take a minute to settle the crowd, and then the auctioneer/ speaker will spend 2 to 4 minutes highlighting some of the achievements for the group.

The purpose is to show success, tug at heartstrings, create excitement for these achievements, and inspire participation to fund the appeal! People want to support and be part of a winning team. This energetic and emotional Special Appeal process will also draw people into bidding who have not yet raised their paddles.

This is the time to switch gears from people bidding against each other, to encourage them to bid together for the greater good. Start with the highest bid you believe you can get from the crowd. Do not sell yourself short on this. Your goal is to get several paddles excitedly in the air to fund this great appeal. Then, work your way down at set increments so that everyone in the room is able to pledge a donation at the level where they feel most comfortable. Your regular auction workers will be noting the bids and including them in the regular check-out process, denoting that for the Special Appeal, no goods or services were exchanged and that portion is 100% tax deductible as allowed by law. If you are aiming for several high dollar pledges in the Special Appeal, you should spend some time prior to the auction targeting your donors who could pledge a high amount to lay the groundwork for the appeal.

Remember that even at an auction, the key to receiving gifts is by asking. Too many times, groups believe people will simply open their wallets without being prompted. By using the Special Appeal in your next auction, your charity can bring in the highest amounts ever, simply by asking at the appropriate time. Keep your auction lively, energetic and fun, and the bidders will see to it that your profits will reflect their enthusiasm for the group and for the auction.

About the Author: Danielle Hamilton is the editor of and moderator of a Yahoo group dedicated to helping animal rescue groups raise money for animals.

Posted on 14 September 2007

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