Stress Less Auction Fundraising Tips [storytelling]

Stress Less Auction Fundraising Tips

Take it from auction veteran Carlo: stress less and make more money at auction! Carlo’s philosophy is the less you stress the better the auction outcome. His tips make for happy volunteers and happy bidders. For 9 years Carlo has volunteered his time as a member of the Auction Committee for his children’s school in Folsom California. The team’s goal is to raise money for the school in the most effective and stress-free fashion possible. This all starts by working in advance and thorough preparation. Doing as as much as possible prior to the event makes for a very smooth running event with much less effort and stress. This bears repeating, anything that can be done prior to the auction fundraiser event means less to do and and less stress at the event.

Streamline and Work Smarter

We are never fully optimized, we can always do better. What worked and didn’t work at the last auction fundraiser? How can we change the process or activity to stress less? Any tweak from the year before to optimize work to yield less work is worth the time.

Establish a general pricing and bidding strategy for auction. When it comes to the final pricing and bid increments this is best handled by a single person to maintain oversight.

In reviewing prior years auction income they discover data gems. For instance more income does NOT come from more items. The quality of the item and the bidder perception of what the items are worth yields the highest bids.

Adding pre-bidding to the auction has helped boost awareness and income. With pre-bidding the highest pre-bid now becomes the starting bid. Nice starting off the event with auction action already as a safety net.

Using a full featured and sophisticated program like Auctria saves hours of time from their first endeavor of running the auction using basic office products. Use the system from the beginning of the fundraiser to the very end. PRE do everything!

Handle any Pre-Work in Advance

Any tasks that can be handled prior to the auction shall be taken care of in advance, and as far in advance as possible. For example this group recycles and reuses their bidder paddles. Some are taken home or lost by bidders but that’s ok! Immediately after the event an inventory is taken and they replace the missing bid numbers so come next year they are fully stockpiled.

bidder%20paddle%20with%20name%20tags%20300%20wide.jpg

  • pre-selling event tickets
  • pre-register the bidder
  • pre-bidding
  • pre-assign bidder number
  • pre-assign tables
  • pre-make bidder paddles
  • pre-make bidder bracelets
  • pre-train volunteers

This group goes even further in setting up the room pre-event. At the dining table they place the bidder paddles so that check in is a breeze. Check in is so smooth that they re-named check -in staff to Greeters because it requires no technology operations.

One of Carlo’s favorite feature is the drag & drop feature for table assignments. Arranging the tables in advance means stop taking reservations with enough time to manage table assignments. Work all these to do items into your timeline for less stress.

Prepare and Test Everything

Prepare volunteers by training them on the tasks for the event. If possible do this in advance of the event day then day of can be quickie refresher. Test all equipment and services ahead of the event date at the exact location. This includes: wifi, hotspot, printer & router. Think through the need for extension cords, paper, stapler, pens- anything that you may possibly need. Gather all the bits and pieces ahead of time- when it is calm and you can think clearly.

Income Boosters

Carlo’s team has tried lots of auction boosters and here 3 favorites:

  1. Go cashless = More Spending This can easily be done with Auctria, order drinks and s with your bidder number and record everything prior to checkout. Link spouse on the same record for even more convenience
  2. Raffle Tickets- These are an impulse buy, the more times you offer raffle tickets, especially with cashless, the more participation in the raffle.
  3. Sell Leftovers- Well, not really leftovers, but DO over order on food to sell to-go meals for bidders to enjoy the next day. Soup and crab are always faves at this auction, they always sell out and provide last income boost.

Next Steps

Carlo’s Next steps: Even after 9 years Carlo and his team are looking to further streamline the auction fundraising. Next year they are exploring adding an online auction component.

Auctria Timelines & Checklists

As you can see, planning and preparation are vital to a successful auction. Auctria's best practices timeline and checklist will help keep the auction on track. Download and share with your entire auction team today.

Auction Planning Timeline & Checklist WITH an event (gala, silent & live auction)

Auction Planning Timeline & Checklist WITHOUT an event (online only)


Special thanks to Carlo at SNJDS of Folsom, California for taking the time to share their fundraising story. As you can see Carlo is very methodical and it’s not surprising that his background is that of a software developer. We hope you enjoyed reading and ask yourself, what can we do better for our next auction to be stress free?