Help! My Check-out Is a Mess

Long lines aren’t just a problem at Disney World, they can be an instant auction killer.

When I ask someone if they’re considering an auction, live or silent, as part of their annual fund to raise money for the nonprofit or school they’re closest to, I usually get one of two reactions:

We used to have one, but it’s more trouble than its worth. -or- We have one, but it’s so much work and check-out is stressful.

If I hear either of these reactions, my next question is usually centered on the event attendee’s experience. How long did it take for your guests to pick up their auction items and leave? The longer your guests wait in line, the more likely they are to not bid on a package next year saving themselves the trouble of waiting in a line later.

Consider the following steps to improve your donor experience at your next event:


Consider an auction software that will capture guest information such as addresses, phone numbers, & email addresses ahead of time. Some out there will even let you store the ticket purchaser’s credit card information for use at the event. The more information you can grab ahead of the event, the quicker your lines will move.

Bid Number Organization:

Pre-assigning bid numbers can be a pain especially if you have struggled to get everyone’s names ahead of time. Don’t rely on your volunteers to assign all the numbers on the fly, but rather pre-assign as many ahead of time as you can. Arrange each check-in station to have a stack of extra bid paddles to easily assign extra bid numbers to guests who are arriving whom we didn’t get notice of in advance. It may even be helpful to create a separate troubleshooting station for those guests who you didn’t get names for ahead of time. You can print out guest info cards to capture contact info and let them fill out and drop in a basket before entering the event. The idea is to capture as much info as you can, by keeping the lines as short and quick as possible.

Event Pacing:

One of the biggest event headaches can come from guests who want to check-out early. Do you have a posted time that guests can begin checking out? If so, are you adhering to that time? If you’re also hosting a paddle raise and a live auction, are you giving yourself enough time to log those sales & donations before your check-out can begin?


TIP: With Greater Givings Event Software BID-03 report, you can print out a sales listing by supporter and it will even indicate if the guest has a credit card on file.

Have you considered printing a picklist to aid in auction pickup? Instead of printing out a receipt for each guest, which can take up lots of valuable time, consider a picklist to aid in gathering packages by guests or by table. Even hand delivering the packages to the guests can improve the donor experience while keeping the auction check-out line from becoming congested.


Printing receipts can be a bottleneck. Consider emailing a preliminary receipt with verbiage stating that final receipts will be sent by a predetermined date. By capturing email addresses in your pre-registration efforts, you can also ensure that you have contact in case you need to revisit payment options.


Many guests love to take home their auction items that night, but there are even more that would love to pick up their winning lots at a more convenient time. Ask your venue if you can stage auction pickup the following day, or stage pickup at your organization’s location. This can provide an excellent opportunity to showcase your programs and services that the donor might otherwise not see if they only attend your annual event.

What are some ways you’re improving your donor experience?

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