I could swear I saw Willie Nelson's twin at the Road Hog Saloon in Monkey Island, Oklahoma. During last month's visit, my Tulsa friends invited me to attend a local auction there for a friend who was facing expensive chemo treatments.
As I admired a perfect lineup of over 50 gleaming Harleys and lots of leather fringe, I quickly caught auction fever and happily waved my bid card for such a great cause. Most items went far beyond value, including my cool new Maui Jim shades.
The auction crowd reacted just as excitedly as Kathy Kingston, left, when Katie Banzaf and Mickey Herbst of Star Inc. announced that they more than doubled a $20,000 match for Fund A Need - plus they broke their all time auction record.
Achieving this high level of success is not unusual even in a dismal economy. This is the happy experience of the majority of our auction clients -- some even broke records as you can see from the picture here. From Monkey Island to Manhattan, I have witnessed the spirit of generosity in this challenging economy.
How? Please read my article "The Thompson Deal" to gain insight and practical imperatives for success in this economy.
Thank you so much for your support, dedication and leadership in our non profit community. Wishing you and your loved ones a joyful holiday season!
All the best,
PS: We hope to see you at our seminar in March in Nashua, NH and to have you join us for my new Tele-Seminars coming this spring!
THE THOMPSON DEAL
This wonderful, true story about "The Thompson Deal" takes the phrase "lend a helping hand" to a whole new level. My dear friend, Sally Thompson, shared this family story of generosity at her father's recent Memorial Service: Years ago during a favorite family card game of Hearts, her grandfather gently and persistently asked each player, "Wouldn't you like my cards? I'll switch with you - please, take my hand." After several rounds of polite no-takers, Sally's father finally reluctantly accepted his cards...then grinning; he revealed that he had been given the winning hand! Her family now happily dubs gestures such as these, "The Thompson Deal!"
One last piece of advice Sally's dad gave her was, "If you ever see someone who is down, give them your hand." Hearing stories and advice like this can't help but spread a contagious string of generosity - something that lies at the heart of any successful fundraising auction.
So in this volatile economy, it's vital to infuse the spirit of generosity into each moment of your benefit auction: Create that culture of giving by preparing each and every one of the guests to give "The Thompson Deal."
Many of our auction clients experienced overwhelming success even in this dismal economy. How did they do it?
Here are the most important strategies that have worked for our clients. Imbed them into your next fundraising auction. Also join us for our World Class Fundraising Auction Seminar in March 2009 in Nashua, NH. Learn practical profit making strategies in this economy now.
FOCUS ON YOUR CAUSE: more than ever before. (Stop talking about the color of the table napkins.) Request the Board, staff and volunteers to visit at cocktail hour with your guests and ask how they are involved with your organization. Ask your emcee and performers to make statements about why they personally support you. Empower your Auctioneer and write up compelling bulleted talking points so they can remind guests why the funds are critically needed. Use inspiration video and photos to showcase why you need funds.
LESS IS MORE: Seriously shorten your program. The days of long boring speeches and talking heads are gone. Instead, open your auction with a compelling success story in the first person. Make it riveting and personal to showcase your cause and why vital funds are needed more than ever. Reduce the number of auction items. Especially bundle your Silent Auction items. Strategically select Live items that your guests really want. Position your Live Auction and Fund a Need EARLY in the evening to maximize giving. Conduct your Live Auction and Fund a Need before or during dinner.
STAY CLOSE TO YOUR SUPPORTERS. Approach your auction as a cultivation event. Personally reach out and invite them to attend, donate an item, and ask for their influence to open a door for a new sponsor. Make audience development a top priority and even create an auction committee to reach out to invite guests to attend and support you at the auction.
TAKE THE RISK OUT OF FUNDRAISING. Invest in a professional auctioneer who specializes in benefit auctions to maximize your fundraising efforts, make more money and create an entertaining, successful evening. A volunteer auctioneer could be the most costly expense of your entire event. Many volunteer and celebrities who act as auctioneers often do not know how when your guests are bidding and if they will bid again losing significant dollars. Now more than ever, take the risk out of fundraising in this turbulent economy with the increased value and trusted expertise of a trained professional benefit auctioneer. It is an investment that will pay for itself many times over.
We care about you. Especially in this economy we wish to offer ideas and support so your auction can thrive in this dismal economy. We'd love to show you and your non profit how to maximize your fundraising efforts. Kingston Auction works closely with you to develop an effective strategic plan that will guide you before, during, and after your event through a variety of personalized services: consulting, training seminars, auctioneering and more. All of our services are an investment that will propel your auction profits. Please visit www.KingstonAuction.com for our seminars and training now.
We know the secrets to record-breaking benefit auctions in this economy. Let us show you how. Please feel free to call me personally 603-926-1919.
"Where would CCI be without you? You are without a doubt, the backbone of our fundraiser. People rave about your skills - and I am so glad that you encourage us to get bigger and better every year.
Thanks again - working with you is a blast!"
—Hadley Luddy, Vice President for Development
Community Connections, Inc., Yarmouth, Massachusetts
Click here for more testimonials
Insights and Sometimes Rants
"SNL" Sound and Lights
"Make more money with auction quality sound and lights!" Kathy Kingston
Hire a professional sound company
Benefit auctions require unique sound staging - different from any other event. High-quality sound is one of most overlooked areas for auction success. Guests are encouraged to cheer, applaud and have fun! If your guests cannot hear or understand above all the noise - they will not bid - a significant loss. Do NOT use the in-house sound system. A professional sound company that provides independent auction quality sound will pay for itself many times over.
Illuminate your silent and live auction brightly, not the auctioneer
Turn up the house lights full during the live auction! Good lighting is critical to auction success. Make sure your guests can read the silent auction forms and auction catalog. Dim dinner-style lighting can lose thousands of dollars and put supporters to sleep. Never spotlight your auctioneer; it is impossible to see bidders.
"What auction items sell best and what auction items should we avoid?"
- Miquel Rodriquez, Chief Development Officer, Fuller Craft Museum
Especially in this economy, it's imperative to match auction items to your guests. Best selling are personal and unique: once-in-a-lifetime experiences, exclusive, handmade gifts, one-of-a-kind, travel, sold out and unique group experiences. Top selling items have limitless retail value. When there is a stated retail value, bidders tend to stop at that pre-set spending limit.
Avoid auction items that sell below value. These are typically art, jewelry and professional services. They are considered personal choices, and typically do not sell well at auctions. Unless you know you have several ready bidders prior to auction night, avoid these items.
Thanks for your great question Miquel. I'd love to answer your question, just email me at email@example.com.
WATCH KATHY KINGSTON IN ACTION
on The Auction Network
Kathy is featured in a multi-part documentary on the Auction Network! Click this link to watch her in action in the first episode - and, if you like, stay to watch all 6 episodes.
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...
National Auctioneers Association promotes professionalism of auctioneers and auctions through education and technology.
Certified 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 auctioneers with unique skills and strategies to conduct, plan and market fundraising auctions.