auction theme

Our wonderful auctioneer, Lloyd, in costume for an event!  Ahoy!

Displaying Lloyd in costume.pngThe best auctions have a great auction theme.

Now, this doesn’t mean you have to have balloons or matching clothes, but it does mean you need a cohesive auction theme to make sure your live auction can be fun and get your organization the most money.  What does having a theme entail?

An overarching auction theme can really add to the ambiance of your event.  In order to choose a theme, you must first look at the people who will be coming to the event.  You wouldn’t want to have a luxurious champagne brunch for families, but you might want to have that type of event for a women’s organization.  Knowing who will be invited to your event will allow you to tailor an auction theme the guests will enjoy.

Here are some themes for your next event:

  1. High Tea: This is a mid-afternoon event which mothers and daughters love.  Tea, small sandwiches, and cold appetizers make this event cost effective and easy to put together.  Add ambiance by borrowing tea pots from volunteers and members to use as centerpieces.
  2. Circus: This can be a really fun theme and can be for grown-ups only or can include kids.  Curtains, stripes, and sparkle can make this event really something.  Include games and prizes, popcorn and funnel cakes to make the theme really stick.
  3. Vegas:  Who doesn’t love a Las Vegas themed party?  You can have gaming tables and, depending on State and local laws, you can let your guests gamble knowing the money goes toward your organization.  If gambling isn’t possible, you can still have gaming, just with no money.  People will still love it!
  4. Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams: This can get expensive, but it’s worth it to make your guests feel like a million bucks.  Serve sparkling wine and passed horderves.  Black and white decorations can also help with this theme.  Have your guests dress in black tie attire to complete the look.
  5. Masked Ball: Okay, you don’t have to have a ball, but a masked party can be fun!  You can have people make masks at the auction, or have ready made masks for them when they arrive.

There are many great websites that can help you find a theme.  Visit our Pinterest boards to see some great ideas. Lloyd and Mary can also help you find a theme for your auction.  They are also willing to dress to the occasion and make your event memorable.

Getting the Word Out

Photo by Dan McKay


How do you know your event will be successful?  How do you let the media, your organization, and your community know about your event?  How do you get the word out?

There are many different ways to let people know about your event.  Getting the word out doesn’t have to be complicated.  Here are some helpful ways to make sure your get the right people to come to your event.

  1. Newspapers: Local newspapers can cover your cause and your event.  Send out a press release at least 30 days in advance of the event.  Make sure you include a contact name and phone number in the press release.  Click here to see examples of press releases.  You might think newspapers are “old fashioned,” but many families, including mine, still use them to see what events are happening around town.
  2. Local Online Event Calendars:  Many newspapers, radio stations, and other online sites have areas where people can upload information about community events.  My favorite local calendar is  Posts must have editorial approval before being posted, so don’t worry if you don’t see it posted immediately.
  3. TV Stations: Local news stations are a great way to promote your event.  Contact your local news affiliate to promote your event.  Who knows, you might even be on TV!
  4. Your Organization:  Get members of your organization involved!  They might know someone to contact, have valuable information about ways to promote, or even volunteer to help run the event!  No one in your organization is unimportant.  Utilize what, and who, they know!
  5. Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other social media sites can help you talk about your event.  

These are just a few ways to get the word out about your event.  Benefit Bidding has many other ways to help promote your event.  Talk to us today about how we can help you!

Who do you know? Once you know what you need, it’s easier to find the right sponsors for your organization. The “right” sponsors for your organization should be sympathetic and supportive of your cause and your constituency and be able to provide funding and/or services. Generate a contact list of individuals to approach. Who do you, your Board, committee members, volunteers, and employees know? Be creative and inventive when compiling a potential sponsor list—you can always edit the list afterwards.

Keep in mind that your list should be a list of people, not organizations or companies. You’ll have more success if you target individuals rather than organizations, no matter how tempting or appropriate the potential sponsoring organization may be. 

How do you ask? The best way to gain a sponsorship is by starting with a personal contact, then asking for a favor. Don’t be afraid! People only donate if they’re asked.

Exactly how you ask depends on your style. Asking using a personal touch is important. As part of your brainstorming on who you know, note relationships and things in common with the potential sponsor, and bring up those items in your approach. Letter, email, phone call, meeting, or a combination? Do what you’re most comfortable with and you’ll be most natural, but keep in mind that you may have to get out of your comfort zone or take several different approaches to land the sponsor. 

Personal touches always win out. Sometimes gaining a sponsor takes a bit of ingenuity. When corporations are asked by many different groups and budgets are tight. You can get creative if needed suggest splitting a sponsorship between two like-minded companies, giving recognition to each.

What can you provide and how can you credit your sponsors? Sponsors will want to know how they’ll be recognized in return for sponsorship. Be prepared before you ask by understanding what recognition your organization is prepared to give. Be prepared to be creative to get the great sponsorships.

Effective recognition gestures include signage in the check-in area, in the main event room, on the tables and on guests’ seats. Place your sponsors’ ads or logos in the event catalog, on the online auction web site and even in the pre-event invitations. Be flexible in your recognition efforts. One idea is to hold a thank you luncheon for your sponsors after the event.

If you are executing public relations activities as part of the event, be sure to mention your sponsors in announcements and press-related activities. Better yet, get a media sponsor, like a local newspaper or radio or TV station, and leverage those outlets to promote your event to attendees and other sponsors.

After you’ve put together your sponsorship plan of attack – your list, your ask strategy, and a specific sponsor return on investment- don’t forget to arm your procurement and other committees with your knowledge. “Don’t assume that just because they volunteered to be on the sponsorship committee, that they know lots of people, and know what to do

A little legwork will go a long way to landing a great sponsor. And in return, sponsorships give businesses another means to gain visibility in the community – while supporting a good cause at the same time.


ID-100226209Many people go on vacation during the summer.  If you plan on going somewhere, or even having a staycation, use it as inspiration for your next auction.

When I go on vacation, I usually do and try things I normally wouldn’t at home.  For example, on a cruise there are many things that are great activities your group could auction.  I went to a high tea once.  Why not auction off a tea party?  There are local tea rooms that could host, or you could have one at someone’s home.  Other inspirations from cruise ships are tequila or wine tastings, events at local aquariums, a character party for children (Spend the Afternoon with Elmo), exotic food cooking classes, spa days, and many others.

Going camping?  Why not auction off a tent, or a camping stove?  Another idea could be to have a backyard family campout (you would plan age appropriate activities and food and the family enjoys).

Having a staycation?  Why not use local things you love to inspire you?  What do you love to do?  Do your kids love the zoo?  Auction off a zoo birthday party.  Do you love to play golf? Auction off a round of golf for 4.  Interested in skydiving?  Auction off a jump.  Are there products you love to use?  Make an silent auction basket with those products.

Anything can be used as inspiration to make your auction successful.  Take a look at things you love to do, or would love to do and auction it off!

Photo from  Photo by Sura Nualpradid.

I Need Volunteers

I need volunteers, you need volunteers,
we all need volunteers!

With any event, you need volunteers! These range from people to solicit auction items, people to put together table centerpieces, even people to make food. Volunteers can make or break your event. So, where do you find them?

The first thing to look at is your organization. Are members required to volunteer? If they are, you have a pool of qualified volunteers right there that have your goals in mind. Try to find volunteers that have a talent for the jobs you need done. Have someone crafty? Put them with decorations. Have someone who loves to talk and be social? Let them use those skills to talk to other organizations and people to get donations for your event.

If your organization doesn’t have rules about volunteering, or you can’t find anyone with the right set of skills, try some outside help. There are several online tools that can help. is a great, free, way to find volunteers. You input the type of volunteers you need, dates, times, and other information about your organization and event and volunteers come to you.

Another way to get volunteers is to partner with another organization or group. Several universities in the area have organizations, like fraternities and sororities, that have required volunteer hours. This is also a great way to mentor a younger generation and engage them in your cause. Many of them also need experience and will help you with skills that you would normally have to pay someone to do such as marketing, graphic design, computer skills, and many many others. High schools also have volunteer based organizations that would love to help a good cause. You can also contact organizations like the ASPCA, Lions Club, and other organizations to see if they are interested in volunteering.

Getting good volunteers isn’t easy, but if you contact the right people, you can get great volunteers to help your event run smoothly.

5You know Benefit Bidding can help you with all your auction needs, including online and live events.  Did you know they also offer helpful advice to make your auction amazing?  Benefit Bidding has a monthly newsletter sent directly to your email inbox that can help you plan your next fundraising event.  When you sign-up for the newsletter, you will automatically receive the document: “31 Tips to Achieving Record Breaking Auctions.”  This document is very helpful in helping you make the most money for your organization or cause.  Here are the top 5 tips for you to enjoy:

1. Hire a benefit auctioneer.  You may think anyone can stand in front of a group of people and call out numbers.  Using someone such as a local celebrity or a friend can be less of cost, but you will lose revenue.  Isn’t the point of doing the auction to raise the most money you can for your cause?  Hiring a professional auctioneer with experience working with organizations just like yours is the best possible way to ensure you are getting the most out of your auction.

2. Integrate an online auction into your plans.  Online auctions are a great way to start getting attendees excited for your event!  They provide a way to generate revenue before the live auction and provide a wonderful way to provide a greater value to your sponsors.  Benefit Bidding can help you plan and implement an online auction, even if you have little to no experience.

3. Use a benefit auction quality sound system.  All sound systems are not the same.  Most venues and DJs will have sound systems that are meant to play music, not allow people hear and bid on items.  This is a must if you want to generate the most money.  Benefit Bidding has their own and can set it up properly to maximize your revenue.

4.Keep the lights bright.  You want people to see what they are bidding on and it helps the auctioneer see who is bidding.  Don’t miss a great money making bid because the auctioneer couldn’t see it!

5.Timing is everything!  When planning your event, make sure to plan enough time to complete the auction.  A good rule of thumb is 2 minutes per item.  You don’t want your audience (and potential bidders) leaving in the middle of the auction.

Be sure to sign-up for our monthly newsletter here.  Remember, Benefit Bidding can help you plan a great and profitable auction for your organization.