Kathy Kingston's BIDhi!
August 2008

Ignite Generosity



Question of
the Month

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Note from Kathy

Sunset on Chapin's Beach, Cape Cod, MA Welcome to our new e-newsletter.
Every month, you’ll be getting this, filled with news and fresh fundraising auction ideas!

Are you wondering about auction success in this economy? Thanks to your input, I’ve created a new seminar on October 8th that focuses on critical benefit auction strategies for this challenging fundraising climate.

Oh, and before I forget, our website just received a facelift:

It’s summer and I’m spending August on beautiful Cape Cod. I love this down time; it’s so important to me to rejuvenate, write and, of course, kayak! Slowing down the pace in the off-season really makes me ready for the busy fall benefit-auction season!

As I watch the tide ebb and flow, I think about how we all have to pace ourselves. But, you know, pacing in a benefit auction is as important as pacing in everyday life!

A key factor in a great auction event is that you control your auction timeline. Momentum is everything to keep your guests in the room, focused on your cause, enjoying themselves AND bidding! I recommend that you PREPARE a minute-by-minute “Show Flow” of the entire evening, a written schedule including name of activity, precise time allotted, and running timeline of the event. I’ll personally coach you through your best Show Flow at my Fall Seminars. To learn exactly how to have your next auction be your most successful, join me at either or both of my new fall seminars! October 7 & 8 in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Who should attend? Well, you, of course! But leverage the event, and increase the impact of attending, by bringing key members of your auction team. Your team of colleagues, volunteers, board or staff members can really jump start your auction. I want to make sure you’re all at the seminar, so take a moment now to sign up before things get busy. With so much riding on your auction success, join us and discover how to maximize your fundraising efforts!

I’m excited to report that Kingston Auction is now featured in a multi-part documentary on the AuctionNetwork! See the article below and click through the link to watch me in action.

Has the economy impacted your auction? Is attendance down? Has it been tougher to procure auction items? That will be my focus in next month’s issue. I’ll cover what immediate measures you can take and feature the four compass points for auction success in this economy.

Until then,
Kathy Kingston

Ignite Generosity!
Ideas for Maximizing Your Fundraising Results

Fundraising Benefit Auctioneer Featured in Auction Network “Auction Royalty” Series

Kathy Kingston has been profiled in 6 episodes by the Auction Network. “Auctioneers such as Kathy Kingston are the reason live auctions generate such excitement and enthusiasm and make for great entertainment,” says Pamela A. McKissick, CEO and founder of Auction Network. “We’re honored to feature her in our ‘Auction Royalty’ series.”

You’ll want to watch Episode 1, entitled “Getting the Most Auction Dollars for Non-Profits.” Why? Because you’ll learn techniques to help your organization increase auction profits by focusing on the mission, empowering bidders at the auction and procuring premium items.

After you’ve watched it, read the rest of the article because it will make a lot of sense to you. As you saw in Episode 1, now, more than ever, it’s crucial to brand your mission and to be transparent about how auction profits will be spent. Your charitable auction is a momentous opportunity to promote your unique cause, deepen relationships with your supporters, and invite them to invest in your success. It’s the job of the auction team and board to make it easy for them to connect and to invest!

You must begin now – well in advance of auction night, to cultivate your audience and lay the groundwork for a successful event. The best methods to emotionally connect your guests with your mission are personal: personal contact, phone calls and follow-up. Guests who care about your mission are much more likely to give generously. To encourage connection, and invite support, you’ll want to examine each and every way that you touch anyone connected to your non-profit auction. Yes, your members, sponsors, donors, guests, volunteers, staff and board.

The secret to getting support is to ASK! Tell them it’s a fundraising auction. Communicate your event, and your great cause, and the reasons for a fundraiser in as many ways as possible (letters, publications, website, sponsor links, and more!).

To whet your audience’s appetite, pre-promote auction items by listing them in your communication materials. But don’t stop there – pick up the phone, call your supporters, and ask them to donate and invite them to sponsor and attend.

Hint: to drum up excitement for the items, look at past auction records to see who bought what. Pick up the phone, and on the call, be sure to tell them there are great items they would absolutely love.

Speaking of auction items, here is another big secret to maximize your fundraising effectiveness: MATCH YOUR ITEMS TO YOUR AUDIENCE. If your buyers love theater, procure sold-out Broadway tickets with a 5-star meal and luxury hotel! High-yield items like TRIPS AND EXPERIENCES, and similar exclusive, hard-to-get, fantasy items should sell for more than value, and that’s what we want! DOUBLE YOUR MONEY Ask the donor if you can offer two packages on auction night. More information on this topic below in the Question of the Month.

Client Quote
"Kathy's strategies to increase audience participation and boost revenue are truly impressive. We far exceeded our financial goal."
—Joan Parker, Board of Directors
New Repertory Theatre, MA

Click here for more testimonials

Insights and Sometimes Rants


Save awards, celebrity speeches, entertainment and dancing until AFTER the Live Auction and Fund an Item Appeal. Why? You have the most fundraising potential when the majority of guests are fresh, attentive, and haven’t had to rush home early. Stack the deck in your favor by scheduling your most profitable activities (live auction and fund-a-need appeal) early in the event.

Choose only ONE speaker prior to the live auction. He or she must be well-liked, able to keep remarks brief (under two minutes) and inspiring. That speaker is key to auction success — because he or she uplifts the audience and sets the tone for generous support.

Keep in mind, the vast majority of people will not leave before awards are given or dessert is served, so finish early and serve dessert afterwards. The key is to engage as many generous supporters as possible!

Question of the Month

How do you know whether to put an item in the live auction or the silent auction?
Mary S., Skidmore College, NY

Thanks, Mary; this is the number one question I’m asked in my seminars and when I consult. Remember, any item will bring more money if it is in your live auction. Typically, place your most unique, exciting, exclusive items, those that have the greatest value, into the live auction.

However, be sure to consider these other important factors:

SPECIAL EXPERIENCE ITEMS that are sometimes hard to value (such as such as dinner paired with wine at your home with a well-known chef, front-row seats at graduation, school projects such as the first grade hand-painted cookie jar) always belong in a LIVE auction. Why? Because these are unique items or experiences that have the capacity to bring very high profit.

Items that do not have a high dollar value but are very MEANINGFUL TO YOUR AUDIENCE also belong in the LIVE auction: they will fetch a lot because of sentimental bidding such as a handmade “sock-monkey” lovingly made each year by the founder of the organization (sold for hundreds of dollars after lively bidding), a 10 lb. salami (a yearly tradition at a different auction), or even naming and visiting rights to a newborn calf (believe it or not, two high bidders each paid $1,000 to name twin calves) . In each case, these items have a big emotional connection to the particular organization; sometimes they take on a life of their own and it becomes an honor to be the winning bidder!

Think about what YOU can add to your auction to make it even more fun-and profitable. Send me an email (with subject line FUN to kathy@kingstonauction.com) and tell me about your unusual items that went for sky-high prices!

Who We Are
We are award-winning auctioneers, providing cutting-edge consulting and innovative training for both non-profits and auctioneers. A national leader in fundraising auctions, Kingston Auction Company has raised millions of dollars for non-profit organizations throughout New England and across the country for over 22 years. The company founder and president is Kathy Kingston, CAI, BAS. Come to us to make your next benefit fundraising auction a record-breaker.

Our affiliations include...

NAA Auctioneer
National Auctioneers Association promotes professionalism of auctioneers and auctions through education and technology.

CAI AuctioneerCertified Auctioneers Institute is the most prestigious designation awarded in the industry - only three percent of auctioneers nationwide hold the CAI designation.

Benefit Auctioneer Specialist designation provides BAS Benefit Auctioneer Specialistauctioneers with unique skills and strategies to conduct, plan and market fundraising auctions.

Visit KingstonAuction.com or call 603-926-1919

Email: kathy@kingstonauction.com

© 2008 Kathy Kingston. All Rights Reserved.