To make your auction a success, you need a veritable army of volunteers. As with any endeavor, the clearer you are about the roles and expectations of your volunteers, the more successful your event will be. Below is a list of volunteer roles you’ll need to fill for a medium-sized event—about 58-64 volunteers. For larger or smaller events, you can scale this list accordingly.
Set-up – 6 Volunteers
Set-up volunteers need to work quickly and in teams to set up tables and chairs, hang decorations and signs, arrange items for the silent auction, set-up bar stations, registration table, and equipment. Choose people who can lift heavy objects, work collaboratively and pay attention to detail.
Security – 4 Volunteers
You’ll need someone to keep an eye on the auction items to make sure that guests do not tamper with items or bid sheets. These volunteers also ensure that non-event guests (other hotel guests) do not take items that are in public view. You’ll need a couple people for set-up day and a couple more for the day of the event. Choose people who are firm, responsible and alert.
Greeters – 2 Volunteers
Give your guests a warm welcome with people at the door to answer their questions, direct them to the registration table and encourage them to pick up an opening cocktail. Choose people with warm, friendly personalities who understand the layout of the event.
Registration – 6 Volunteers
These volunteers need to work efficiently to register bidders into your auction system and give them an auction catalog, name tag and bidder sign. They’ll need to answer any questions and direct bidders to the seating area. Once registration is over, these volunteers will also enter purchase data from the silent and live auctions into your auction system. Choose people with warm, friendly personalities who have good computer skills and can trouble-shoot problems.
Contest Managers – 4 to 10 Volunteers
You’ll need people to manage each special contest you’ve planned during the event, such as:
- Raffle Tickets – 4 Volunteers: Circulate among guests and sell raffle tickets. Choose people who are enthusiastic and can work a crowd.
- Raise the Paddle Totaler – 1 Volunteer: Rapidly calculate running bid totals as the auctioneer acknowledges bidders at various levels. Provide auctioneer with an accurate cumulative total. Choose someone who is good with numbers and can focus on one task despite distractions.
- Heads and Tails Games – 2 Volunteers: Circulate among guests, explain the rules of the game and encourage them to participate. Choose people with engaging personalities who are strong communicators.
- Dessert Dash – 3 Volunteers: Collect dessert bid forms from tables and tally totals. Explain how the game works and assist table representatives in selecting their dessert. Provide each table with serving utensils and plates. Choose people with engaging personalities who can move quickly.
Auctioneer’s Runner – 1 Volunteer
Provide your auctioneer with a point person to answer their questions, solve problems and get anything they need. During the auction, this person runs the completed Live Bid sheets to the checkout area. Choose someone who is organized, assertive and a problem solver.
Live Auction Spotters – 3 Volunteers
Assigned to different sections of the room, spotters alert the auctioneer to the bids and call out the bidder numbers. Choose high-energy people who can read nonverbal cues. Have them meet with the auctioneer beforehand to make sure they understand how to meet his/her needs.
Live Auction Totalers/Recorders – 2 Volunteers
These volunteers record all auction sales on the individual Live Bid sheets. They also serve as a second set of ears for the Auctioneer. They record “paddle raise” amounts quickly and accurately. Choose people who can focus, write legibly and are good with numbers. Have them meet with the auctioneer beforehand to make sure they understand how to meet his/her needs.
Merchandise Handlers – 3 Volunteers
These volunteers carry items onto the stage for display as the auctioneer starts the bidding. Depending on the item, they can also circulate through the crowd so bidders can get a closer look. Once bidding is over, they need to quickly move the item off the floor. Choose people who can enthusiastically display items and can lift heavy objects. Have them meet with the auctioneer ahead of time to understand how he/she wants the items displayed.
Silent Auction Monitors/Closers – 2 Volunteers
Closers encourage bidding on silent auction items, answer bidder questions and efficiently close items purchased at the “Buy it now” price. Once the silent auction closes, they remove the silent bid sheets and take the silent auction items to the merchandise packaging area for pickup. Choose people with engaging personalities who can move quickly.
Ballroom Volunteers/ Runners/Stage Assistants – 3 Volunteers
You’ll need a few extra volunteers for odd tasks, such as tracking winning bids on live auction items, delivering notification to winning bidders, showcasing items and delivering receipts to the cashier station.
Recorder/Checkout Runner – 1 Volunteer
To process auction sales efficiently, have your runner carry auction recording forms from the live auction recording station to the check-out station. Accumulate no more than five items at a time. Choose someone who can track auction progress and move quickly.
Merchandise Packaging/Pick-Up – 2 Volunteers
These volunteers sort winning items into merchandise bags for pickup at the end of the evening. They’ll need to match the winning bidder number, retrieve the items and mark them off on the on receipt. At end of the evening, they help bidders find their purchases, address any problems and provide assistance carrying items to the car, if needed. Choose people with a warm personality, an eye for detail and the ability to lift heavy item.
Bidder Check-Out – 3 Volunteers
At the start of shift, these volunteers enter purchase data from silent and live auction into auction software. Once guests begin leaving, they help guests check out and settle up their bill. They then direct bidders to the merchandise pick-up area. Choose people who can remain kind and calm under pressure, who are good with numbers and with computers, neat with paperwork and who can troubleshoot problems.
Clean up – 3 Volunteers
You’ll need people who can quickly and efficiently clean up the facility: fold up tables, carry out the trash, stack chairs, remove decorations, sweep up, and load auction equipment and supplies into cars to return to your office/school. Choose people who can work quickly and lift heavy items.
Volunteer Room Supervisors – 2 Volunteers
You’ll need a couple people to help supervise your volunteers: check them in, distribute and collect supplies and answer questions and generally keep the volunteer room in order. Choose people with good supervisory skills and organizational skills.
Putting on an auction takes a lot of people working well together. With a clear idea of the roles you need to fill and the expectations for your volunteers, you’ll be able to assemble a top-notch team and make your auction a success. For additional tips and advice, check out these resources:
- Volunteer Management, a training DVD from Red Apple Auctions
- Train Your Volunteers
- Find and Recruit Volunteers