5 Tips for First Time Auction Chairs

Auction Chair

Congratulations! You just got elected Auction Chair. You’ve got a big job ahead of you, but we are here to help. Here are some tips for first-time Auction Chairs to help make the transition smoother.

Shadow Your Predecessor

Ideally the previous Auction Chair is still finishing out his or her term. If so, find a way to follow him/her around and see first-hand what needs to be done and how to do it. This person is a wealth of knowledge. Set up a “brain dump” session where you can sit down and really go through the nitty gritty details of putting on an auction. It will probably take more than one meeting. Ask questions and seek help. Your predecessor is most likely just as committed to your cause as you are and wants to see your organization succeed. Be sure to thank him/her for his/her service and for helping you with the transition.

Study Your History

Your organization has had a lot of successes. Find out what worked in the past and why.

  • What sold well at previous auctions?
  • What didn’t?
  • Who donated items to your auction?
  • What did they donate? Who signed up as sponsors?
  • Who or what was the connection that made them decide to sponsor your event?
  • Who were your large dollar donors?
  • What do they value about your organization?

Create a Timeline

You know there’s a lot to get done. By creating a timeline and sticking to it, you’ll make the job much more manageable. Enlist the help of your predecessor and key members of your team to create a schedule that outlines when to start various subprojects and when they need to be done. Our Greater Giving Auction Planner is a great place to begin to guide you through your to-do list.


Every organization has dedicated, knowledgeable, competent people. Find them, appreciate them and divide up the work among them. By giving them the responsibility and the authority to get the job done well, you’ll empower them and make your own job easier. Keep your door open if they have questions and make sure they have everything they need to get the job done. Find out how to delegate more effectively here.

TIP: Don’t have dedicated people? Recruit volunteers. Look for students or young professionals looking to beef up their portfolios/resumes.

Follow Up, Communicate, Follow Up

Check in with your team often. Talk to your volunteers and make sure they know what they are supposed to do. Follow up with donors and potential donors to secure those auction items. Connect with them afterwards and let them know how their donation helped make your auction a success. Follow up with sponsors before and after the event. People want to know their efforts made a difference. Whether it’s through cash donations, attending the event, volunteering, donating items or sponsoring the affair, let your supporters know just what a difference they made.

Armed with knowledge, a solid timeline and a committed team, you’ll be able to make your first auction a great success.

Also see:

  1. How to Choose an Auctioneer
  2. Top 6 Ways to Use a Leaderboard to Drive Revenue
  3. Training Your Volunteers for Event Night Success

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