No bids at a silent or live auction falls into the worst nightmare' category of fundraising. After working hard to collate a great range of prizes, set-up the auction platform and create an awesome event for donors and supporters -“ it's horribly dispiriting when the bids fail to materialise. But don't panic! Here are a few effective ways to minimise the no bid risk before the event and some tips to get things moving if you're faced with a no bid dilemma on the night:
Choose your prize mix carefully“ think about your guests and plan your prizes appropriately. Unless you have a unique selection of guests e.g. wealthy philanthropists, a good mix of price points is ideal. A few marquee prizes plus some low-mid range options means there's a prize for every budget. Also think about tailoring the prizes to your guests' tastes. Raising funds for a music based organisation? Concert tickets, music memorabilia and even artists' instruments will go down a storm.
Be aware of cultural norms
overseas fundraisers can come unstuck when it comes to cultural norms and expectations. In some countries and regions, fundraising auctions may be unusual. Guests may simply not understand what the process is and what they have to do. If you're holding a fundraiser overseas or in a new region, check what types of fundraising normally take place. If an auction is a new concept you may need to put some extra work in to explain the process. While this may involve extra time, the novelty factor could pay huge dividends!
Promote early: get your silent auction up and running ahead of the event. We find that up to 40% of all silent auction bids happen before the event even starts. Send the auction site link out to guests through regular communications. Early access means they get plenty of time to look through the prize options and decide which ones they want to bid for. Take the same approach with the live auction. Although guests may not be able to bid before the event, knowing what's on offer will whet their appetites and allow them to prep their wallets.
Use social media: making the silent auction available early means you can open it out to people who can't attend the event. Promoting on social media extends the auction reach to remote supporters. N.B. just bear in mind the logistics of posting prize options to people who are bidding outside the event.
it's hard when the auction starts and there are no bids. Resist the urge to panic. It can take a short while for bids to gather momentum but if activity remains slow (or non-existent) think about the followingâ€¦. MC action - ask your MC to make a short announcement. The MC asks everyone to stop what they're doing and take out their mobile phones. He or she then quickly runs through the auction registration procedure. The MC then asks everyone to register (and make a bid or donation there and then).
Roving encouragement - ask your volunteers to rove the floor to encourage bidding. Make sure they're across the bidding process so they can help anyone who is unsure about what to do. Don't be afraid to stoke competition between tables and bidders!
Remind people why they're there: whether it's your MC or someone from your cause/organisation, stopping the event to remind guests of why they're there, the importance of the cause and why the money is much needed is a good way to get the bids rolling in. It doesn't need to be heavy-handed, often guests can just get caught up in conversation and need a gentle nudge to get them focused on the auction action!