You wouldn’t hire an electrician to landscape your yard, would you? You spend hard-earned money on professionals to do a professional job, and your auction is no exception. When you want something done right, more often than not the cost will more than make up for the benefit of hiring the right person for an important task.
But finding the right professional in a sea of what-ifs can be a daunting task. To help you find the right auctioneer or the right event planner for your non-profit fundraising event, here are some questions to ask before signing your name on that check—to save you money, time, and help ensure your auction is a success and avoid expensive pitfalls.
Before settling for a professional auctioneer, interview a few from a variety of backgrounds. Not every auctioneer is right for every auction and you want to find the right fit.
- What types of events does the auctioneer usually work?
Some auctioneers work both commercial and benefit events, and it’s essential to hire an auctioneer who is both familiar with fundraising auctions and experienced in pressing donors for high bids at a non-profit event.
- Does the auctioneer have the necessary experience or references?
Before forking over the cash to hire an auctioneer, ask for a list of references with events they’ve worked and amount of money raised. Consider interviewing organizations the auctioneer has worked with in the past to ensure the auctioneer is able to hold audience attention and keep the bids coming in. Even likeability is an important element to look for.
- What other professional advice can the auctioneer candidate offer?
A good auctioneer knows how best to work an audience, and if you have the funds, it’s worthwhile to have the auctioneer consult on sequencing of items in the live auction and, if possible, with the silent auction. Sometimes they can even offer helpful tips on organization, logistics, and item procurement.
- How does the auctioneer leverage event technology?
If you’re using event technology like Greater Giving Event Software or Mobile Bidding, ask how they would leverage the technology during the event to increase bidding excitement. For example, would they keep updated on the electronic bidding activity during the silent, so they can announce which items have little or no bids; and recommend extending the bid time for certain items that have competitive bids going?
Event planners are not only there to help you plan an event—event planners will catch things you miss, help you save money in finding and negotiating other services, and their broad range of experience is invaluable in all phases of organizing your auction. Here are some questions to ask before hiring an event planner that could make the difference between a good and a great auction.
- Does this event planner have non-profit experience?
Not every event is the same, and it’s essential when hiring an event planner to pick one experienced in planning fundraising events; even better if the event planner has worked events of a similar size and volume.
- Can your event planner offer related services?
What has your event planner learned just by working with other non-profit organizations that can be applied to your event? If using event software, it’s helpful to choose an event planner familiar with using the products and services you’ve already purchased.
Can your event planner help you procure items, organize your silent and live auction, or recommend professionals in the technical support, marketing, auctioneering or design fields? These are important related services to consider when hiring an event planner.
Remember that professionals are worth their weight in gold: every expert involved in your event is worth at least three non-experts, whose efforts could be better spent in other areas of organizing and working your event. We maintain a list of vetted professional partners that might be a good place to start.