The Internet is replete with calendars, checklists and other tips and tricks on how to best plan your silent auction. Most of them include a calendar that starts as far as a year out from your auction event and includes milestones throughout the year leading up to the day of your event.
While we are sure that a well-organized annual calendar is intended to be helpful; it’s likely to stress you out more than help. After all, are you really thinking about your next auction event a year in advance? You probably just completed your previous one, and the only thing that should be on your mind after your auction event is a tall glass of [you fill in the blank here], a sandy beach, calm winds and warm weather.
The last thing we want you to feel is stressed about your next event. So if you are reading one of those auction planners that tells you that you need most of your items collected 3 months in advance, well just toss that planner in the trash can.
Our belief is this, “there is no ideal timeline for your auction event.” That is right, we said it. There are cat lovers and dog lovers, Democrats and Republicans, and people that need a year to plan an auction vs. those that can do it in a month.
Create an Event Timeline That Works for You
Ok so getting back to the timeline…. there is definitely a set of things to do (a checklist if you need a name for it), and time is often never on your side; but there is no ideal timeline.
Regardless, as we mentioned above, we have seen clients plan and pull off auctions in a matter of weeks while others take months. There is no right way or wrong way.
So if you are a few months out and you still don’t have a good set of donations, DO NOT PANIC! Just continue to execute on your plan and expect that things will come together (like they always do).
Now that you are no longer feeling inadequate because some timeline told you your event was behind schedule, what do you do? Here are some tips to bring that auction across the finish line (without killing yourself).
Auction Event Planning Tips
- Get on your donation requests first. If you need to be on top of anything, be on top of donation requests. Here is where some notice does help. Many businesses like get enough notice about a donation request, so walking into a business the Monday before your event is likely to result in a “sorry but no” response.
As soon as your previous event is over, send out those thank you notes to your donors. In that note, consider asking them again for the next year. Then wait 2-3 months and follow up again. Just start collecting responses and entering them periodically into your database or spreadsheet.
- Secure your volunteers and event staff. If you do not have any volunteer workers lined up, you will need to find some. If your organization does not regularly recruit volunteers, consider local schools (sororities, fraternities) or businesses (e.g. Walmart or Kohls). All of these organizations promote community service work with their members and employees and may be able to help. Then, learn more about best practices for managing your silent auction volunteers.
- Use software to organize your auction items. Of course you aren’t surprised to hear us suggest this. After all, we are a software company, right? Well, we are more than that! Most of us run our own events or get deeply involved in some of our client events. Through that process we have been able to build software to alleviate many of the headaches involved in auction planning and prep.
To summarize: do not freak out. You are probably fine and probably have enough time if you get started now. So start securing donations, recruit your volunteers, and get your software ready to organize your items. And, if you need any help along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out to us!
Now that your timeline is on track, get our Silent Auction Tips eBook for seven tips on how to run a better auction.