Set Your Auction to “Self-Driving” in 4 Steps

Planning and executing an auction is hard work.

There’s the venue, the guest list, the catering, the sponsors—the list goes on and on. There’s one big question we get from event directors every year:

How can I make this easier on myself next time?

That’s where the “self-driving” auction comes in.

Managing hundreds of guest RSVPs by hand can require an entire staff member’s attention—which is why so many fundraisers look to technology and software tools to help. We all know that it could be done better, that it should be easier. The more tasks your software can automate for you, the more you can focus on problems that need your specialized attention.

Let’s aspire to something more—like a self-driving car handles the driving for you. You could be sitting in the back seat on a conference call while the car takes you to your next meeting.

Your auction should be the same way! We live in a time where auction technology can send invitations, sell tickets, and register guests all on its own. With the rise online bidding solutions that integrate into online ticketing platforms, the guest experience can now be seamless all the way from the invitation, to bidding at the event.

TIP: If you’re using Greater Giving’s event management software, every time you create a new event, just choose to use your past auction as a “template.” Then all your admission packages automatically copy over!

Turn your guest list to “self-driving” in 4 steps:

1. Set up your admission tiers to be forward-thinking, then choose how much each one will cost this year. (Avoid cute names for your tiers that might not transfer across event themes—pick things like “single,” “couple,” “table,” or “early bird.”) In following years, all you have to do is copy them over and post your event registration.

Self-driving admissions? Check!

2. Set opening and closing dates for online registration ahead of time. Most software packages that do online bidding will let you schedule registration in advance, so you can step away to focus on other things and trust registration will start when you want it to.

TIP: Some tools, like Greater Giving, will automatically send out invitations for you once registration opens. With the click of a button, it can even send them to everyone who attended last year.

Create your email invitation, drop in the link to your registration page, and queue it up to send to everyone on your list on the opening date. (Once you’ve created the invitation the first time, it’s easy to replace your graphic and link each year!)

Self-driving invitations? Check!

3. Lean back and wait for the registrations to roll in. Now it’s up to guests to visit your website on a phone, tablet, or computer, and buy their event tickets. Many software packages include the option for guests to register a credit card—that way, when they arrive on event night, there’s very little left to do at check-in. Talk about a quick event registration!

TIP: If you use Greater Giving’s software package to sell tickets online, all you have to do is review each registration and click “Import.” All guest names, contact information, and ticket purchases are uploaded to the database automatically.

Don’t forget to promote! Did you know that you can queue up posts on your nonprofit’s official Facebook page? Be sure to send people directly to the registration page when you drop in the link!

Self-driving ticket page? Check!

4. Make the list and check it twice. As you get closer to your event, make a paper copy of your guest list and check for any inaccuracies or missing information, so you can track it down before event day.

TIP: We recommend adding a page to your website detailing everything about your event (from online bidding to parking to childcare), and including it in all your registration confirmation emails. That way, people know right where to go to ask questions, and don’t need to bother you for each one!

Data can make or break an event! Good data integrity means all fields are filled out for every guest:

  • Group or sponsor
  • Table
  • Meal choice
  • Contact information (address, phone number, email address)

You’ll need those addresses and phone numbers later to resolve any outstanding issues after the event, and mail off receipts!

Self-driving guest list? Check!

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