Why Invest In a Professional Auctioneer?

By Kathy Kingston, CAI, BAS

Kingston Auction Company

Some may think that anyone with a strong voice and a sense of humor can lead an auction.  Development professionals know that a professional auctioneer, especially one who specializes in fundraising makes a huge difference to the success and tempo of the evening.

Using a volunteer celebrity, parent, friend of the organization or media personality, as an auctioneer may actually be the most expensive cost of your entire fundraising event. Volunteers and amateurs leave money in the room and do not have the expertise to conduct the Fund a Need appeal.   Event organizers may not hesitate to pay for entertainment, food and beverages or decorator services.   Hiring a professional auctioneer is an investment that will net more revenue for non profit organizations.

The trained professional auctioneer can read your audience, initiate a healthy competitive spirit, and move the bids along for maximum value. By setting a fast pace and using a quick wit, a professional auctioneer creates an entertaining, successful evening that increases profits where guests are pleased to return year after year.

A professional auctioneer can help take the risk out of fundraising by generating more profit, awareness, and excitement for nonprofit organizations.

What do professional auctioneers charge for a benefit auction?  Many professional auctioneers have non-profit rates.  Auctioneer fee structures can vary such as flat fee, percentage or a combination of both.  One innovative fee structure is called a Buyer or Services Premium.  Here buyers pay a small percentage of their purchases to cover the costs of an auctioneer and other services.  In this way the organization retains the full amount of the auction revenues. Fees can also be based on the size of the auction as well as additional services provided by the professional auctioneer.

Professional auctioneers can also provide additional services such as pre-auction planning, consulting, training, seminars, and auction check-in and checkout services.  Some also sell auction supplies and forms, fundraising auction software and innovative auction technology and on-line auctions.

How do you select a professional auctioneer?   It’s important to interview potential auctioneers.  Ask about experience with fundraising auctions, services provided and fees.  View their website, talk with references and if possible attend a benefit auction that he or she is conducting.  Organizations will want to select a professional auctioneer who will fit well.

One of the fastest growing areas of the auction business, the benefit auction specialty requires an understanding and appreciation of non-profit fundraising.  Professional auctioneers who specialize in fundraising auctions are distinctively skilled and committed to working with non profits.  Benefit Auctioneers are dedicated to providing specialized fundraising auction strategies that advance the mission of the non-profit organization.  Further serving as an auctioneer now requires competencies far beyond just selling live auction item.  A Benefit Auctioneer Specialist is also skilled in conducting the all important Fund a Need, motivating your auction guests to new bidding heights as well as assisting the Auction Committee to design the right timeline and auction logistics.

Professional auctioneers increase non-profit income and net the highest yields on auction items.  It’s important for non-profits to provide a fun and entertaining event where they entice guests to feel good about “paying more than the value” for a great cause.

To locate a professional auctioneer, contact the National Auctioneers Association at www.auctioneers.org and click on ‘Find an Auctioneer’ and select ‘Benefit and Charity Auctioneers’. You can search by state, name and company.  Another idea is to ask your colleagues locally and nationally for recommendations of great professional auctioneers who specialize in benefit auctions.  Additionally, many states have auction license laws. If you reside in one of those states make sure that your auctioneer is licensed and bonded.

Why risk hiring a non-professional when the needs of the non- profit organizations have never been greater. Professional Auctioneers are poised to help non-profits to serve as an ambassador for the organization to promote their mission, to increase excitement and momentum and to raise significantly more money for their great cause and maximize their fundraising efforts.

To learn more fundraising and benefit auctions, you can contact Kathy at kathy@kingstonauction.com 603-926-1919. Please visit her website at www.KingstonAuction.com