Close out your Silent Auction like a Pro: Tips to Avoiding Frustrated Guests
The last thing you want to do at your event is frustrate your guests. Of course we never set out to intentionally upset our guests; but there are some common mistakes that organizations make from time to time that will unintentionally cause guests frustration. Extending the time of your silent auction is one of those mistakes. Let’s take a few moments to break this down to better understand why it’s never a good idea to add on time to your silent auction.
Betrayal of trust
When you add on time to your silent auction, you are betraying the trust of the highest bidder who did play by the rules. You are allowing other people to outbid him or her with the extra allotted time. You may feel like you are doing a favor to everyone by adding on more time, but you are really bending the rules. When it comes to a silent auction, people like the rules to be consistent and fair.
If they feel that the rules were broken, they are less likely to participate in the future. Most notably, you are angering the highest bidder, which is a person who was willing to spend a large amount of money to help support your organization. This is the kind of donor that you want to come back to your events for the long-term.
There are a few exceptions to extending the time acceptable, for example a traffic jam causing people's attendance to be delayed or running very far behind in your program. However, if this is going to be the case, the earlier you can announce the extension, the less frustrated your bidders will be. When you wait until the last minute to extend the time because you don't see any bids, you have actually done your organization a disservice. As Ebay has proven, people don't bid until the last minute and you just took away guests' "last minute" thus decreasing the chances for bidding wars.
This being said, it is also important to note, never publicize the closing time of your auction. Rather, announce at the beginning of your event, your silent auction will close before or after an event in your program (for example "The silent auction will close once the ballroom doors open for dinner!") This will give you some wiggle room and you will never be running late in the eyes of your guests.
Set the rules with your team
Let’s talk about how we can best avoid angering the highest bidder in some of these situations related to closing out the silent auction. First, make sure your team and your venue are all coordinated with the rules. You need to work out these details ahead of time; be sure to discuss how you will tell time and how you will give your guests their closing announcements.
Be sure to plan out all of the potential scenarios that you can come up with. For example, do you hesitate and wait as someone puts down a final bid even though the countdown has finished? We at Amfund do not recommend it; again, this is bending the rules and something that will potentially upset the highest bidder.
We recommend going through and pulling the bid sheets right after the countdown. If you notice a guest putting a last-minute bid down at one end of the table, you could certainly start pulling the bid sheets from the other end, but do not hesitate and wait for them to finish, their bid must be complete when it’s time to pull the sheet. For multiple tables, it’s best to place your volunteers around the room to collect them.
Here’s the hard and fast rule to go by: if the bid was not fully completed by the time the bid sheet was pulled, then the bid does not count.
For more tips and insights on how to close out the silent auction at your next fundraising event, contact us at AmFund. Our friendly and experienced staff helps raise funds for hundreds of non-profits every year. We look forward to learning about your worthy cause!