This post is the fourth in a series of posts based on the “Best Practices for School Auctions” whitepaper from the Greater Giving Fundraising Excellence Series. Each new post covers the unique challenges school auction planners face, and how to overcome those challenges. Read additional articles: School Auctions Series
If you want a successful school auction, you’ll need strong leadership.
In general, this means a committed team that sets the direction and tone for the event and drives all activity before, during and after the auction.
Running an auction is a tall order and one person can’t do it alone year after year. Most schools have found it effective to have both an auction chair and an assistant chair. Then the following year the assistant chair takes over as auction chair. This accomplishes several things:
- Assures an unbroken “knowledge chain” from year to year.
- Reduces burnout by making sure the auction chair has backup, someone to share the load and consult with throughout the process.
- Next year the auction is led by someone who remembers what happened last year and can see potential issues before they become disasters.
An alternative structure that also works is a three-person committee. This provides a way to share the load and rotate roles over time.
Whichever structure you choose, you’ll want to select individuals with strong leadership skills.
The leadership team has the primary responsibility for making the auction successful. These tasks include:
- Manage the overall auction operation.
- Drive final procurement and revenue reporting.
- Tie up all the loose ends post-auction.
- Evaluate event operations and revenue results.
- Lead and record the event post-mortem (event evaluation).
- Send out event thank-yous.
- Drive event follow-up and initial procurement for next year.
- Select next year’s venue and announce next year’s date.
These last two items are critical for making a smooth transition to next year’s leadership team and helping them hit the ground running.
What’s Your Experience?
How do you structure your auction leadership team? What qualities do you look for in an auction chair or assistant chair? How do you ensure that the knowledge and learning about the auction process gets passed on to next year’s team? Please share your tips in the comments below. We’d love to hear what you are learning.