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Auction Night Timeline

13 years 1 month ago #156743 by Roger.Devine
After volunteering at some of our customer's events this year, I think I want to write an eBook on event-night management. The variation in expertise out there is pretty huge - I've seen school auctions that have an org chart and run with military precision, and ones at the other end of the spectrum. All of which deserve success, and all of which have taught me something.

Here's the timeline I'm going to use at the Robert Gray Middle School auction on April 8th. Note - we are not serving dinner, just heavy appetizers and dessert.

2:00 pm - we get in to the space

2:00 - 5:30 pm: set up silent auction tables, front-desk area (for check-in, item sales and check-out), guest tables, and stage.

5:30 pm - Front-desk training. Will-call setup.

6:00 pm - Doors open. Check-in and Silent Auction bidding begins

7:15 pm - First Silent Auction closing. Data Entry begins. Will-call volunteers start bagging items.

7:45 pm - Second Silent Auction closing. Signup Party Boards closing.

7:50 pm - Guests move to tables; dessert is served

8:00 pm - Introduction of Auctioneer and M.C.

8:05 pm - Live Auction (this is going to be small; 7-10 items plus a paddle raise)

8:45 pm - Dancing; check-out opens; will-call (item pickup) begins

10:00 pm - Music stops; Clean-up begins.

10:30 pm - Will-call closes.

11:00 pm - Clean-up is done; we all go home

It isn't going to be a complicated auction; probably 50 or so silent-auction items, plus 5-6 party boards & the live auction; 120 guests or so. And it is a really mellow crowd; the parents at our school generally have been attending school auctions for 6-9 years at this point. So everyone pretty much knows what to do, and I expect it to go pretty smoothly. We did a volunteer-swap with an area preschool, so our front-desk and will-call people won't need to go bid and drink and schmooze during the event; they can just work (like we did at their auction last month).

I'm contemplating trying a no-check-out plan; where we require guests swipe their cards and give us an email address at check-in; then we can just have guests go straight to will-call and get their stuff on their way home. I need to talk this over with the team a little further to see how comfortable they are with this, but I volunteered at a local charity event last weekend where we pulled this off and it was pretty cool. Everyone just went home; no lines.

Roger Devine
2011 Robert Gray Middle School Auction Chair
The following user(s) said Thank You: xanshark
13 years 1 month ago #156465 by Katharine Fly
Replied by Katharine Fly on topic Re:Auction Night Timeline
We have a Chinese Auction during the night where our parents and patrons buy balls that are drawn out - kind of like a door prize. These are the $100 and below items that we get as donations. The Silent auctions close at different times during the night depending on what table they are on.
Then We close the last right before the Live auction event. This all happens after dinner.
13 years 2 months ago #156086 by Rose
Replied by Rose on topic Re:Auction Night Timeline
This post is a couple months old now and you may have already conducted your event but here is my input just in case your auction is still upcoming.

From my experience it is usually best to close all the silent auction items before you move guests into their seats for dinner. This may not be possible if you're dinner is a buffett or your timeline is really condensed. In either case, closing during the Live auction is something I would strongly discourage. In most cases the majority of the funds raised at an event is going to happen during the Live portion. Its not advantageous to disrupt the flow of the Live to generate a few more bids on silent auction items.

In regard to your slow check out process, do you issue bidder numbers? It seems like this is a much faster approach than to organize alphabetically. A hanging file folder system with carbon forms can make the checkout process go very smoothly. Carbon copies in the silent auction allow your bidders to know which items they've won, and how much money they have already spent while allowing you to do the required filing to get your guests out of the room in good time. Simply dropping the forms into pre numbered file folders make it simple to retrive them when that person checks out. The forms can also double as reciepts.

Good luck!
13 years 4 months ago #155523 by JHB
Replied by JHB on topic Re:Auction Night Timeline
Another consideration for you is that sometimes people's participation in the LIVE auction depends on whether or not they won (how much they spent) in the SILENT auction. So you may need to have your results posted before the live auction.

The one I was at this week, closed out the silent auction while the bag raffle results were being announced. This particular one probably has 40-80 bag raffles, so that takes awhile. (Anything under about $25 is bag raffle, over is Silent Auction at this one).

Then, the live auction was last (3rd). We only live auction 2-4 items. By then, we were far enough along that those who cared, could know how much they'd already committed for Silent Auction.

Some groups use carbon copies, circle the winner and leave a copy of the bid sheet by the items, so those monitoring their bids can see the results. I've never tried that approach as it just seemed a bit more cumbersome. But I think it works well for some.
13 years 4 months ago #155515 by mtchard
Replied by mtchard on topic Re:Auction Night Timeline
Thank you for your response. We have a live and silent auction with a dinner. We will have two separate silent auction sections and I was contemplating when to have the second section close. During the live event or before the live starts. The second section will be lining the perimiter of the room where the dinner and live event is held so people would not have to leave the room.

I love the idea of different colored tablecloths for the different sections. I'll get with the committee member handling decorations and find out if we can get colors to match the theme.

We have used a computerized checkout in the past and usually have 200-250 items including the live.
13 years 4 months ago #155512 by JHB
Replied by JHB on topic Re:Auction Night Timeline
I've worked on many silent auctions and it is definitely key to close out while other activities are still going on so you have a little time process the paperwork.

Some auctions have two waves of close outs. In that case, you'll want your signage to be very clear what closes when. Having different colored tablecloths help, so you can say something like "the blue tables close out at 7:30 and the red tables close at 8:15".

How you organize the info depends on how many items you have. For the ones I've worked on, we always alphabetize the sheets by winner's last name. If you only have 10-20 items, that's not a big chore. But if you have 50, 60, 80 then the method I use is to quickly divide the sheets into either 3 or 4 stacks. Put a card or piece of paper down labeling each stack. For instance A-F, G-L, M-S, T-Z. Then just flip through the sheets and put each in the appropriate stack. Then different volunteers can each pick up a stack a alphabetize their set. (These sets usually match the payment lines.)

Some places call out the winners, but I find that takes a lot of time and folks often don't hear. My preference is to put up a big pieces of paper or poster board for each alpha set and write the names, plus if they won more than one item, a number. Post these on the walls. It's quick and simple.

Having all your auction items numbered and all certificates (things not out on the table) organized is also essential.
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