Charity Auctioneer Tips – Using a professional auctioneer will do wonders for your charity auction, but how do you go about selecting the right one? Obviously, you want the one who’s going to do the best job of raising funds for your nonprofit organization, but what questions do you ask?
Charity auctioneer Sherry Truhlar from Red Apple Auctions shares six tips that will help you with the selection process, including the all-important task of quickly finding a list of professional auctioneers for your area to choose from. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Sherry, she’s a prolific speaker and writer who’s fun auction ideas have been covered in Town & Country, The Washington Post Magazine, AUCTIONEER, Missouri Meetings & Events, The Virginia Auctioneer, and The Eleusis, and featured on TV shows on E! Style and TLC.
Sherry also publishes an annual free guide to the best-selling charity auction items that sold for above value in fundraising auctions across the country. You can download a copy of her Annual Auction Item Guide on her website or sign up for a free webinar packed with her unique live auction ideas and charity fundraising event ideas.
Check out Sherry Truhlar’s charity auctioneer tips in the guest article below.
Six Tips to Selecting the Best Charity Auctioneer For Your Auction Fundraiser
If you are new to benefit auctions or unfamiliar working with auctioneers, you might be uncomfortable with the selection process. Here are six tips I suggest auction committees use to not only survive the selection process, but actually enjoy the conversations.
#1: Locate a few auctioneers
If you’re starting from a blank slate, visit the National Auctioneers Association website and use their “Find an Auctioneer” search tool. Auctioneers with a “BAS” credential indicates that he or she has had specific training and testing in benefit auctions. In lieu of any other metric, that designation alone is a good way to start weeding people out.
Similarly, if you research your state auctioneers association, many state groups also have a similar search tool useful for finding area auctioneers.
Another great option is to call other organizations conducting auctions. Ask them who they use, and why.
#2: Research and compare auctioneers by studying their Websites
In today’s business environment, if a company doesn’t have a website, they aren’t doing much business. You can glean quite a bit about a company or a person simply by reading what they post online. Is the content fresh? Do they showcase videos? Are they active in their communities?
HINT: If an auction firm’s Website seems less focused on charity auctions than it is on real estate, automobiles, consignments, or another specialty, the auction firm probably is more knowledgeable about those other areas. Look for someone who has mastered what you need: fundraisers.
#3: Create a form with standard questions, and call some auctioneers
It’s best if you can talk with all of your candidates within the same time period so you can compare them in one swoop. Key questions you might want to ask include:
- Are you available on our gala date?
- How many events do you conduct per year?
- How many events have you overseen with our guest count?
- Could you describe the way you work with clients?
- Do you have a video? (If they don’t, ask when you can watch them next perform.)
- Can I speak with some of your clients who hold events similar to ours?
- Could you explain your service offerings and pricing structure
- … and whatever else is relevant for your event (emceeing, for instance)
HINT: Don’t begin by asking, “How much do you cost.” In most cases, a charity auctioneer will need to know a bit about your event before quoting a price.
#4: If the auctioneer has given you referrals, call those referrals
Find out what other organizations liked (or didn’t like) about the auctioneer’s substance and style.
#5: If you want a proposal or need a final interview, set it up.
Request a proposal only if you’re serious about the auctioneer.
If you need the auctioneer to meet key decision-makers face-to-face, set up the meeting. Meeting face-to-face isn’t always an option due to distance, but it’s not entirely uncommon.
#6: It’s OK Say No. You Won’t Burn Bridges or Hurt Feelings, Unless You Drop the Ball
If you’re not into an auctioneer’s style, or you know that you definitely don’t need their services, don’t ask for a proposal. Know that it’s completely fine to say “no thank you.”
But if you’ve moved along in the process and you’ve received a proposal, it’s only polite to let the auctioneer know that you opt for someone else. Give them a call and thank them for their proposal. Let them know you’ve opted for another candidate but will keep them in mind for next year.
It’s good to be polite! You never know… you might want to work with that auctioneer down the road. Your courtesy will be appreciated and remembered.
About The Author
Award-winning charity auctioneer Sherry Truhlar, CMP, BAS has been featured on TLC and E! Style cable shows, and written about in The Washington Post Magazine. If you like this article, she invites you to claim your own copy of her Auction Item Guide. The Guide lists 100+ of the top-selling items currently selling in fundraising auctions. Sign up at http://www.RedAppleAuctions.com and a fresh copy of the Guide will be arrive in your email in-box immediately.
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