How to ruin your event in the final 48 hours!

You’ve worked so hard for the last 4-6 months and now, in the final moments, you start to panic.  It’s more common than you think, and you’re not alone.  They key is…don’t do anything to ruin your event in the final 48 hours!

Last month, I went to Salt Lake City, Utah to run in a half marathon. I prepared with a full sixteen week training plan and a goal of running under 1 hour and 40 minutes.  I will tell you, the last mile was painful, but I finished in 1:39:38 or a 7:37 mile pace for 13.1 miles.  Goal accomplished!  I always find parallels between my personal life and work.  They’re seemingly a constant presence.  This was no different.  Think about it…most events prepare for about four months (a sixteen week training plan) and just before the big event, many events, like many runners, ruin all of their hard work in the final 48 hours.  My running coach has a saying about the final two days before a big race, “At this point, you can’t do a whole lot to help your cause, but you can do a whole lot to ruin it”.  There is some truth to that in the world of fundraising too!

Great trip to Morocco at EcoFest earlier this month! Amazing!

Great trip to Morocco at EcoFest earlier this month! Amazing!

Scenario #1: In 48 hours, you ruin your silent auction.  Here’s how:

You have worked extremely hard procuring silent auction items for the previous four months. Then, in the final days you print up bid sheets with minimum bids and valuations, you decide to “save” $1,000 and not get a professional sound system, you print the item descriptions in a 12 pt font so nobody can read it, you turn down the lights to “set the mood” and nobody can see your descriptions (the 12 pt font just got more difficult to read) and last, the most common silent auction blunder the last 48 hours…you continued to add items and add items and add items, putting you well over the suggested number and you now have a garage sale instead of an auction.  All of that work from your staff and volunteers did not reach full potential.

One of our new clients, On River Time, knocked it out of the park with this trip to NYC!

One of our new clients, On River Time, knocked it out of the park with this trip to NYC!

Scenario #2: In 30 minutes, you cripple your live auction by ignoring the program and program protocol.  Here’s how:

You have your “Night of” timeline and program all buttoned up and you’re ready to go! But then the program starts and things start to go unscripted.  First, your speakers forget that they are not at a Kiwanis club lunch meeting and think that every spare minute of dinner service needs to be filled with constant talking and storytelling.  Your 4-5 minute scripted speech turns into a thank you party that lasts 25 minutes, essentially interrupting your guest’s nice dinner and time to chat.  Now we know why the Academy Awards have the music that comes on (cue Jeopardy music, now!).  Next, even though they were instructed otherwise, your table service crew forgets that tonight is not about the food and table service.  It’s about raising money.  They continue to walk around pouring water and tea during the live auction.  Last…You guessed it!  It’s all about that bass, ‘bout that bass!  A poor sound system means that no matter how good your items are, or how hard you have worked, if your guests can’t hear the live auction, they can’t bid.  Think about it this way…you have three profit centers the night of:  Silent Auction, Live Auction and Pledge.  Your sound system will cost approximately $1,000.  That’s $333 for each of the three profit centers.  In simple terms, that’s one or two silent auction items worth, one bid increment in the live auction or one lower end pledge.

We can’t predict how every auction will turn out, just like I can’t predict what my time will be in a race, because there are so many “x” factors we can’t control. BUT, we CAN prepare to be successful!  And, we CAN avoid ruining our potential in the final 48 hours!  Think of Granger Thagard as your personal event coach.  Think of us as your insurance policy.    Though each and every event this fall we have been associated with has broken an all time event record (no kidding, it’s been an amazing run), I can recall at least three that avoided monumental disasters because they had a professional steering the ship (something you don’t get when the weatherman does your auction). All you have to do is listen.  If your event did not break a record this fall, you may want to ask yourself why you’re still hosting amateur hour at your auction.  Spring is filling up and 7 events have already rebooked for next fall 2015…yes, it’s time!

Happy Bidding, Joey

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