2012 was a phenomenal year for so many of Granger Thagard’s clients! It seemed that every time we turned around a new auction record or overall event record was being set. There was rejuvenation in bidder excitement during live auctions and overall better execution with event logistics. Perhaps our clients just listened better this year? I mean, eventually, one realizes it’s easier to roller skate down the sidewalk with a proven blueprint, instead of hacking thru a forest trying to find your way. I say that a little tongue and cheek of course. The truth of the matter is, the more prepared a group is, the better chance you have for success the night of…and that includes us too. However, what comes with great success is great expectation. You will all have the challenge of “How do we top this one?” to answer. If you went from a $50,000 event to a $75,000 event, you should be dreaming of $100K and you should already be thinking about how to do it. 2013 in my opinion will continue to see a drop off in corporate sponsorships or at best level giving. However, much like 2012, I would anticipate that those who do come to your event will indeed spend! Our 2012 season ended with a great event on November 15th and we start 2013 with the first of nine events in a five week span on February 8th. I thought I would end the year with a “Best of”…Top five great auction moments, and top five not-so-great auction moments of 2012. Names have been removed to protect the innocent:
Top five great moments:
5. While conducting the pledge portion of an event this past spring, we knew we were starting at the $10,000 level (knowing that we had one person in the room willing to start at that amount). What we didn’t know was there would be three additional $10,000 pledges in the room! Bam! $40,000 in hand in about 20 seconds! Lesson: always do a pledge after your live auction, because you just never know.
4. While conducting the live auction portion of an event this fall, we were selling four tickets to any Yankees game during the 2013 season, in the players and family section with field passes. Pretty cool, right? Well, while Jack was in the middle of a bidding war, a gentleman motioned to me. He was the owner of the Hugo Boss in New York City, and on the spot added hotel stay for the week for four, clothing for all four for the week, Giants tickets and Knicks tickets! Yes, sometimes my mouth drops too. Lesson: always invite really important people to your event…and have them drink a little wine before the auction. Just a little.
3. During a silent auction this fall, as I was closing down a section (I believe I had just given the one minute warning), I see an elderly woman remove the pen from a bid sheet and put it in her purse as a way to protect the pink tricycle she was bidding on, and walk away! Seriously, I could not make this stuff up. I promptly gave the competing bidder MY pen (see, we are always looking out for you!), and a young mother became the owner of the pink tricycle. I got a little ovation for that maneuver. Lesson: always bring your own pen to a silent auction, just in case an old lady wants your item!
2. This one happened not at an event, but at an unofficial “auction boot camp” I was conducting. After I had given my speech and gone over my do’s and don’ts as all of you have surely heard once or twice, this one particular Executive Director says “I feel like you’re trying to sell me a Kia, when I know a Kia sucks” (yes, that is a 100% accurate quote) to which my surprisingly immediate response was “Really? Because what I thought I was selling you was a chance to ride in a Lamborghini when you’ve never even been in one”. Needless to say, this Executive Director was one of the very best clients, listeners, had the utmost faith in what we said and had a hugely successful event. I secretly wanted to sell a Kia in the live auction though! Lesson: I work with Jack…I have a comeback for almost any comment.
1. This happened on at least two occasions (to my knowledge)…it happened during the pledge in both events where I saw a gala coordinator in one instance and an executive director in another get teared up, presumably because they were overwhelmed with the outpouring of giving and support for something THEY had built. That’s why we do what we do…for those moments.
Now…drum roll please…the not-so-great moments of 2012:
5. Early spring, an event coordinator elected to not adhere to our “best auction practices” and list not only values on silent auction bid sheets, but minimums as well (high minimums at that)…the double whammy kiss of death. Needless to say, of the 100 or so silent auction items, about 25 of them never received bids. What a shame. We are not doing their event in 2013. “Sorry, we’re already booked that date”
4. Mid-spring, a group decided to not have a reputable A/V company provide sound for their event of nearly 300. In-ceiling sound systems DO NOT WORK. It’s in our contract for a reason. I can’t imagine how much money was left on the table that night because the sound was cracking all night and guests could not hear us. We also don’t enjoy not being able to speak for two days after an event because we had to shout all night into a microphone that is less powerful than my five year old daughter’s karaoke machine.
3. Fall event…silent auction set-up…somebody decided it would be cute to have these tiered step-like stands for the silent auction items, the lowest of them being about 18” off the ground. Imagine you are standing, walking around and you have to reach nearly to the floor in order to bid! To compound matters…yep, you guessed it; this group surprised us night of with values and minimum bids in the silent auction. Epic Fail.
2. This one is a generalization of sorts. We have the luxury of doing events in just about every venue in town. There is a reason we don’t recommend some and praise others. Trust me; we are looking out for your best interest and your ability to raise money in a fun environment. If at some point we strongly suggest against using a certain venue…do yourself a favor, and listen. The very best events start about 10 months out (shortly after you have hired us, right?) with a consultation of which venue is most appropriate for your event. You wouldn’t buy a set of tires first and then figure out which car to get to match would you?
1. This one is classic, and easily my #1…easily! So, at an event in late fall, I am closing down the last section of the silent auction and had just given a 2 minute warning when the lights go out. All of them. I said jokingly, “OK, let’s get the lights back up please” thinking someone had accidently hit the wrong switch or something. But, no…not the case. The next thing I hear is the director of this particular non-profit announce “I have had made an executive decision to show this video right now” (by the way, this was his third, THIRD, video of the night and we were not even through the silent auction yet). I can’t tell you what was going thru my head. Needless to say, I had to go to confession the next morning. So after this four minute worthless video plays, he gives me the “go ahead” to conclude the silent auction, and there were about four people still standing around the items, and one of them was me. I think I’ll let Jack handle this one next year…I might have a beach trip planned.
I hoped you all got a little laugh out of this, and maybe learned a few things. More importantly, I hope you all have a great Christmas holiday season, a prosperous New Year and a successful 2013 in all of your endeavors.