Your Benefit Event and the Economy

Benefit Auctions and the economy?

Something that has been in the news a great deal lately is the current economic landscape and the roller coaster stock market.  What does this mean for your Fundraising event both now and in the future?  It’s all about adaptation in every facet:  your event as a whole, the monetary expectations and what items you offer in your auction (the live auction especially).

One of the great tools that we enjoy as professional benefit auctioneers is the communication and data of other benefit auctioneers across the country.  Shared knowledge is exponential knowledge!  What we are seeing nationwide, and this seems to hold true in the state of Alabama as well, is that across the board, most everything is down.  Sponsorships are down, attendance is down and spending at the silent and live auctions are down (but only slightly). What we are seeing is that though attendance might be down, the people attending are spending!  So, what can you do as the Gala chair or auction chair?  Prepare your budgets with these statistics in mind and you will be successful. 


2011 will likely not be a growth year and maybe not even 2012 (although we have several clients this year that have set records with their auction component – most of them because they are using a benefit auction specialist rather than the weatherman or morning talk show host). Records or not, you can still have a successful event and you can still raise a ton of needed money for your cause!  Stay positive!  Another plus – if you format your evening correctly now, you have a blueprint for increased success once the economy turns the corner.

This is the time to make your event memorable!  People are attending fewer benefit events than they used to.  Instead of 4 or 5, they might be going to 1 or 2.  So, what is it about your event that keeps them coming back?  What is it that keeps them bidding high dollar in your auction?  People with means will spend top dollar on great auction items:  things they can’t buy otherwise (like field passes at Auburn or Alabama game) or an in-home dinner with a local celebrity chef or travel to a private estate in Europe, Jamaica, etc.  If your benefit event marketing includes these items to preview, you will begin to attract the “right” patrons – and by “right” I mean big spenders.  You might work twice as hard this year to stay even with what you raised for 2010 or 2009, but believe me, that is a HUGE win.

Here is what one group in San Francisco did to spice up their 2011 event…is it over the top?  Absolutely!  And it’s awesome!  This served two purposes, to get the guests seated (all 900 of them) and, as we talked about…to give the patrons a memorable night! 

Ask yourself, if the evening starts off this way, how do you think the rest of the event was?  Exactly! Incredibly entertaining and profitable, and I would bet the farm that nearly all 900 are coming back to spend next year. FYI…this event made 6.5million in one night (500 thousand more than in 2010).  You don’t have to be this over the top – but, do something that makes you memorable!


Happy Bidding! – Joey


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