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►Got Scarves?

September 28, 2017 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of selling donated scarves at auction

DON’T leave things folded up!

So, scarves.

It’s not a frequent donation, but these were high-end, valued about $80 each, and we had 12 of them!

How to display, how to display, to get the most eyeballs and attract the most bids?

“Don’t worry,” I told my client last January, “I got this.”

And with our hotel contact, we tucked 2 narrow tables into an alcove and draped them in black to make them “disappear,” and then draped 3 easels in an expensive-looking cream stripe to better offset the various scarf patterns. Then we grabbed 2 bamboo poles the hotel had in storage, tied those to the easel rests, and draped each gorgeous scarf. A quick tie with cream ribbon kept each from sliding off the pole, while still allowing guests to touch the fabric and lift upward to see the design.

Sure, you COULD leave them folded in squares, flat and sad on the silent auction table…but that’s only if you didn’t have a Benefit Auctioneer Specialist to help you craft a better display, right? 🙂

Categories: Consulting, Event Logistics, GALA GAL Case Study, Silent auctions

►Venue Checklist – Download This

September 14, 2017 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
image of Venue Checklist

Download the FREE Checklist!

I try to do a Venue Visit with clients at least 2 months before the event, so I can help determine stage position, traffic flow, sound system and lighting needs, etc.

You can download and print (or view on your phone) this 70-item Venue Checklist to help you either A.) narrow down your venue options, or B.) catch potential problems with the venue you chose.

It covers

  • Destination Appeal
  • Parking / Valet
  • Raised Stage
  • Pre-dinner Space
  • Auction Promotion
  • Lighting

I often repeat the mottos “Make it easy for people to spend money” and “Ambiance is bad for auctions” (meaning low light is fine for dinner, but make sure the lights can be brighter for silent and live auctions and appeals).

As always, if you’ve got a question, just call my cell at 407-791-1360 in Tampa!

Categories: Consulting, Event Logistics, Live Auctions

►”Lucky Line” with Mobile Bidding

August 16, 2017 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of mobile bidding incentive caption

Using Mobile Bidding? Add an incentive to get guests to Bid More!

Do you use the “Lucky Line” for your traditional silent auction bids on paper?

It’s a way to encourage folks to be more generous, give a little more, just jump down a few bidding lines rather than the next bid available. I’ve got an explanation in a viewable Google doc here.

For years we (the benefit auctioneer community) have been trying to replicate this bidder incentive with handheld mobile/text bidding, but to date most mobile technology companies haven’t figured out a way to virtually highlight only bids past a certain point, and then segregate just those for a random winner.

And then my new client shared a semi-solution!

While the one “who makes the most bids” isn’t random and may not encourage as many people to try for the prize as the Lucky Line highlighting does, it certainly is trackable in mobile bidding reports, AND worth celebrating and rewarding! Using the technique above, the organization rewards participation, not dollars, which is an equalizer of sorts.

How have you figured out ways to incentivize more bidding using technology?

 

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Other Money Makers, Silent auctions, Technology

►VIDEO – Selling an Inside Joke!

June 21, 2017 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of auctioneer GALA GAL Jenelle Taylor

Sell More Memories, Less Stuff!

This might be my favorite video clip ev-er!

It starts at $100 and you’ll never guess where we end up 🙂

Watch the short VIDEO on my You Tube channel.

There’s a lot I love about this clip – this small crowd of 160 solid supporters, the clear joy of giving in the room, and the fact that I’ve done this event for years so we’ve built this great rapport!

(Sidenote: we really do have the best job in the world.)

Anyway, the winning bidder doesn’t even keep the hat! It’s all in fun, a vehicle for donations, and a few minutes we will all remember as a highlight. Can your event do that?

Sell more memories to make your event a signature celebration of your cause.

Not sure how? Just call me: 407-791-1360 in Tampa.

 

Categories: About GALA GAL, Auctioneers, Charity, Consulting, Live Auctions

►VIDEO – Only 2 Live Auction Items

June 7, 2017 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of charity auctioneer GALA GAL Jenelle Taylor

On the catwalk selling just 2 auction items!

Here’s a quick video on my You Tube channel from May 2017, when I sold just 2 live auction items (and raised double what we’d expected!)

Watch the VIDEO on You Tube, click here

There’s no one perfect answer to how many live auction items you should have.

I always ask my clients, “How long will your crowd pay attention?”

That’s a good place to start!

But it depends on if your event is a weeknight (ends earlier) or a weekend, what else you’re trying to accomplish that night, what your items are, if you have deep pockets and big spenders in the room, and several other factors.

Believe it or not, selling just 2 or 3 items is just as challenging as selling 18!

Call me (407-791-1360) and I’ll help you figure out how many items are best for your event.

Categories: About GALA GAL, Auctioneers, Live Auctions

►2017 Bookings in full swing!

November 16, 2016 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of Jenelle Taylor

It pays to hire a professional!

After a fantastic 2016, the GALA GAL team is looking ahead to an invigorating new year, and we’re looking for you!

Since 2002, I have worked with hundreds of nonprofits across Florida, and trained hundreds of fundraising auctioneers across the country through my private BOOTCAMP for Benefit Auctioneers course.

I’m available to help most any cause, and this year I find my heart being pulled to social justice causes, the underdog, the underfunded and hugely impactful.

If you’re making a difference in the world, I want to use my 14 years of fundraising to increase your impact, raise your revenue, and expand your outreach. You are committed to moving America forward, and so am I. Let’s plan your biggest fundraising auction yet for 2017!

Categories: Consulting, Live Auctions

►About that Safari Trip…

April 15, 2015 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
Photo of GALA GAL Jenelle Taylor

Try to avoid this at your non-profit, says GALA GAL Jenelle Taylor

A client called today for advice. They’ve planned to feature a safari trip as one of the live auction items for their event in a few weeks. When I read the description a few days ago, I realized with some surprise that this was not a typical sightseeing safari trip – this was a hunting safari!

I’ve seen and sold a number of safari trips, but they’ve always been photo safaris, or – said another way – photo shoots, not actual shoots.

My dad was a hunter, though I am not. Even though I would greatly prefer to only shoot things with a camera, I understand that a portion of the population worldwide shoots for sport and challenge. I’m comfortable promoting this item during the live auction alongside the other trips and experiences.

However, some of this organization’s supporters called to complain today, with the expectation that the trip will be pulled from the auction.

What should you do if some people feel an auction item is controversial?

Whether it’s selling a puppy, dinner with the embattled mayor, a hunting safari or countless other potential hot buttons, how should your committee proceed?

  1. Pull the item from the auction? After how many complaints, 1? 5? 25?
  2. Only pull the controversial item if the complaint comes from a major donor?
  3. What about moving the item from the more visible live auction into the silent auction?
  4. Should you try the “Sealed Bid” method for this auction item, so that if no one bids, no one knows, but if folks do bid, their names and amounts are known only to the committee?
  5. Or how about sending an e-mail blast or newsletter notification for interested parties to place bids via fax or email or text prior to the event?
  6. Keep the item in the live auction, but work hard to identify someone on the staff or committee or patrons interested in the item and willing to quickly raise a bid card, ensuring that it sells easily if other bidders don’t materialize?

There’s no one right answer, of course. While you may not want to bend to a few disgruntled voices, you also don’t want those voices to complain even more loudly on Facebook or the nightly news if they feel dismissed.

Ask yourself, what could possibly go wrong if we auction this item?

As your committee tries to “think outside the box” for atypical auction items, if you don’t have these conversations early on, you may find yourself – like my client – scrambling to find a solution 1 day before the catalog goes to print.

Categories: Consulting, Event Logistics, GALA GAL Case Study, Live Auctions

►Silent Auction – Bidder Blockers and Sheet Stealers

March 19, 2015 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of Gala Gal

Don’t let those “bid blockers” and “sheet stealers” ruin your auction!

If you’ve never seen one at your event, you’re lucky! While it’s great to have fast and furious bidding on your silent auction items, and it’s fun to watch that competition, too many times I’ve heard (or seen) heated bidders try to bend or break the rules of fair play.

I’ve seen Bid Blockers who square their shoulders and won’t let anyone else get to the bid sheet to bid against them, or Sheet Stealers who actually pick up or hide the bid sheet and try to sneak it back on the table right before closing time! I’ve actually seen someone rip up a bid sheet…twice! The same guy!

Anyway, if every year a few of your classroom projects or priceless opportunities create more bad blood than goodwill among your bidders, you’ve got a few options: either move those items to the main Live Auction, where peer pressure and encouragement will spur on the bidding, or post signs and make announcements reminding people that if your auctioneer sees a bidding war heat up, she plans to step over there and see who really wants it the most with an on-the-spot, mini live auction. It’s fun, it’s fast, and it’s fair.

But make sure to warn people first. And, of course, if you use mobile bidding for your silent auction, you’ll never have this issue again 🙂

What are your auctions most highly contested items year after year? How have you solved it?

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Silent Auction, or Mini On-the-Spot Live Auction?

March 10, 2015 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of easels with poster-sized bid sheets

Draw attention to a row of Can’t Miss items

What to do when you have so many great auction items that you can’t even fit them all in to the time slotted for the Live Auction?

Most live auctions at charity events are 30-45 minutes, and with an industry average of 3-4 minutes per live auction sale, that means only 10-15 items make the Live Auction cut for many events.

What if you have 20 awesome items that you need to get in front of bidders? I suggest blowing up the bid sheets to 20″ x 30″ mounted on foam board, place them on easels in a very high traffic area, add signage, place 1-2 full-time volunteers who never leave and can answer all questions about the items, and then get into the mindset of a county fair carnival barker, “Ladies and Gentlemen, don’t miss this awesome opportunity right here. Step right up to bid on ….” You get the idea.

Sometimes, I place these easel items in a semi-circle directly in front of the ballroom doors, and I let the crowd know that these items -while available for normal bidding during the silent auction – will be closed by on-the-spot, mini live auction between 7:40-7:45, immediately before the doors open for dinner. All interested in bidding need to gather here at 7:40 to get a last chance to be the winning bidder.

By doing this, we get as close as we can to the energy, excitement and ego of a live auction even though there wasn’t time in the program. As guests gather, I gets everyone’s attention in the vicinity and say, “Ladies and Gentlemen, we’re now going to close these 5 SUPER silent auction items by mini live auction. They are such great items that we didn’t want anyone to miss the opportunity, so whether you’ve already bid or not, everyone is welcome to bid right now as we close these awesome items. First up, you’ve been bidding on Item 901, 1 week RCI Timeshare anywhere in the world, valued up to $1800. The current bid is $1200, but who’ll go $1300, do I hear $1300, yes and now $1400…” Each item will take just seconds to close, and inevitably we’ll raise several hundred more dollars, remind folks that a professional auctioneer will entertain them later, and generate auction closing excitement right before releasing the guests to dinner.
Win. Win. Win!

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Live Auctions, Silent auctions

►SUPER Silent Auction items

February 23, 2015 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of bid sheet blown up to poster size

Great way to make sure everyone sees your best silent auction items!

How do you make sure that the more significant, valuable or noteworthy items in your silent auction don’t get lost among the smaller items and packages?

Sure, you can make a small section of silent auction with somewhat larger displays, or target spot lighting (or both). For just a few dollars, you can really make a statement and get bidders’ attention.

Sometimes I call these “Almost Live” items, meaning that they were good enough for the live auction, but either we already had the live auction spots all filled, or this event doesn’t have a live auction.

Simply save the ready-to-print bid sheet as a PDF and have FedEx/Kinko’s blow it up to 20″ x 30″ for $4 (black and white). Whether it’s one item or 10, having a super-sized bid sheet will help ensure you get the eyeballs (and bids) you want.

Since color displays of this size would be crazy expensive (like $20-40 each), we just printed the color photos, slid into clear slip sleeves from Office Depot, and attached via O-ring and ribbon. Guests still bid just like a normal bid sheet, though we did have Sharpies on hand to make bids easier to see.

Which items will be SUPER at your next auction?

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Auction Jewelry Displays

February 13, 2015 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of a jewelry donation

Think ahead to plan how you will display jewelry donations

Isn’t it a tiny bit sad when you see jewelry at auctions just lying flat on the table? Surely that isn’t the best way to showcase that donor’s contribution, or encourage the most bids?

Some options, from easiest to most elaborate:

1. Drape necklace over a corner of the plexi sign holder or description frame
2. Cut a length of pretty ribbon and attach earrings or bracelets to the ribbon
3. Gift-wrap (in a solid or metallic paper) a small flat box (perhaps 6″ x 8″ x 1″ high) to place the jewelry on
4. Buy stand up jewelry displays from Michael’s or from a Dollar Store
5. Arrange to borrow jewelry displays from the donor (but make sure to label so your donor gets them back)
6. Use lighted clear plexi boxes for luxury jewelry items to mimic the actual jewelry retailer effect.

By the way, an easy way to remember that you’ll need specialty display items before you get to the venue to set up is to add a column or field in your auction item database called “Needed for Display.” Here you can make months weeks or months in advance about how many easels, jewelry displays, gift-wrapped boxes, clip-on lighting, props or other display enhancements you’ll need to bring.

Here’s to better auction displays. Cheers!

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Silent Auction – This Section Closes

January 22, 2015 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo "This Silent Auction Sections Closes at 6:50"

Post Silent Auction closing times for each section

Don’t you get this question ALL the time?

“What time does the silent auction close?”

Or worse yet, you have patrons complaining after a section has already closed that they didn’t know.

You can put auction closing times in the program, but we all know hardly anyone reads the program, and especially not while they are shopping, holding a cocktail and an appetizer plate.

So put signs on each table or row, at least 2 per section. If you use 4″ x 6″ signage, put 6 or more on each row of tables. What’s the harm?

If there’s a chance (due to traffic, slow registration, or a quirky chairperson) that your silent auction closing times might change, here’s a secret: print several options for each section and just hide them behind the front one. For instance, you can have signage display “This section closes at 7:30” but also have a 7:40 and a 7:45 printed out and hidden behind, so if you have to change the rules on the fly, you can. Keep in mind, though, you need to do this in conjunction with big, bold, loud announcements to keep the crowd up to date. You don’t want to upset any bidders, so you can say over the microphone, “Folks, due to some heavy traffic we have guests just now arriving, so you’ll notice that this section will NOW close at 7:45. Please see the signs on each table.”

Make it easy for people to spend money – by being clear about the closing times!

(Note that with handheld (text) bidding, you won’t have this issue. Alerts about closing are sent to bidders’ devices, assuming they still have battery life!)

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Silent Auction – Item Numbering

January 8, 2015 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of silent auction display

Make it clear which Bid Sheet matches which plexiglass or framed display

Let’s face it: at most silent auctions, there are a lot of items and bid sheets on the table. When you’re on the auction committee, it’s easy for you to know at a glance that the basket on the left with the blue ribbon is the “Family Fun Night” basket and the one on the right with the red ribbon is the “Italian Fest” basket (duh!). But to your guests, it’s all just a mash up of colors, fluff, and paperwork.

Make it easier for people to spend money by clearly labeling and numbering each package up for bid. I like to place each bid sheet directly in front of its plexi display, and I make sure the auction section and number on each are clearly visible.

Or you can invest in mobile (text) bidding and folks will see the image you’ve uploaded with each auction item 🙂

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Silent Auction – Displays for Baskets

December 18, 2014 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo for a coffee basket

Don’t want to take a photo of each basket? Find a funny image

When I attend other auctions, I often see groups that don’t make a stand-up display for baskets or physical items, thinking that the item “sells itself.” I don’t agree.

I like the continuity that every auction lot, whether physical item or certificate-not-on-display, gets a standardized written description, displayed either in a frame, an acrylic slanted sign holder, or a foamboard with attached easel back. This makes the tables organized, balanced, consistent, and polished.

So, what do you put as a visual for a basket that’s right next to it on display? Sure, you could take a picture of the basket, but to me that doesn’t add anything, so I try to find an image (Google Images) that’s cute, funny, or will make the viewer chuckle with recognition. That wine basket gets the “I love wine” graphic, and the coffee basket gets the cutesy, “Life is short. Enjoy your coffee.”

OH, and make sure that a list of what’s in the basket is either in the typed description or attached by a nicely typed card attached to the actual basket.

Will your next auction have better basket descriptions?

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Silent Auctions – Levels

December 9, 2014 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of silent auction display

Make visually interesting silent auction displays with boxes and levels

I’ve talked before about changing the levels on your auction displays. Having a variety of levels above the table’s surface makes a huge difference in visual appeal.

I think the easiest way to add levels to a silent auction is by gift-wrapping empty cardboard boxes. Gather 1 box for every 4-6 silent auction items, anywhere from an 8″ high to 24″ high, and wrap them in whatever colors or prints match your theme. I get inexpensive paper from Dollar Tree or Michael’s. These boxes can be wrapped weeks in advance and transported to the venue easily in garbage bags. Or if you have a ton of volunteers for day-of auction set up, boxes can be wrapped on site. Sometimes volunteers are standing around looking for a job to do.

In the photo, you’ll see a different, more subtle way to create levels. It takes a bit longer to slide a box under the tablecloth and then adjust, adjust, adjust to get it right, but it’s another way to create levels while keeping the tables looking less cluttered.

No matter which way you do it, you MUST add levels to your next auction display!

Categories: Better Buyers, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Silent Auction Displays, sample

November 18, 2014 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS

photo of silent auction display

If you’ve got a trip, help people spend money with photos of the resort(s)


No matter how good your descriptions, it’s the visuals that sell a trip.
For every hotel, weekend getaway, B & B, home stay, condo, time share, yacht, resort or castle, include as many visuals as possible. If it’s a high-end package, especially in the live auction, it’s a great idea to use technology to really showcase the destination. Have gorgeous photos visible in a looping digital photo frame (you know you’ve got one lying unused around your house!), or a laptop or an iPad. Assign a volunteer if you’re worried about someone walking off with your display.
For all the other stays in your silent auction, just get the visuals on display, preferably on a brochure or promotional sheet with the donor’s logo for added validity and trustworthiness.
For your attendees to want to bid on a vacation, they have to really *see* themselves there!

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Silent Auctions – Better Displays

November 6, 2014 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of silent auction display

If the donor sent a brochure, display it!

If you’ve ever been in the office or on the committee when donations come in the mail, you know that many of them include an informational or promotional piece, like a brochure, menu of services, takeout menu, postcard, folder, etc.

It may be your first inclination to give these items to the winning bidder, so you just stash them away in the winner’s envelope with the certificate.

DON’T!

In order to make it easy for people to spend money (one of my mantras), make sure promotional items that would help potential bidders understand an item, see the value, or get excited are put on display next to the bid sheet. Either stuff into a clear plexi sign holder, or, for small items, I lean them against a 4″ x 6″ plexi.

If you hide all the juicy details until after the bidding is over, you’ve lost the opportunity to promote your donors and encourage more (and higher) bids. Promote your items better next time!

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Silent Auction Posters

October 21, 2014 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of a silent auction poster

Make it easy for people to spend money by hanging a poster listing this silent auction section’s items in order

Here’s a simple way to make it easier for people to shop your silent auctions.

This is just a table made in Excel with columns for the Item Number, Item Name, and an extra column where later you will write in the winning bidder’s name or number.

Simply save the table as a PDF, and then FedEx/Kinko’s can blow this up to a 20″ x 30″ for about $4 in black and white. You can tape or spraymount it onto a standard foam core board (about $4 at Michael’s craft store). If you’re going to hang it, attach a cord or ribbon.

These boards should be easily visible (up high!) within each auction section, and make sure that the items are then displayed in the order listed on the board. Guests should be able to look up at the board, see “514 Massage, Mani, Pedi” and walk right to that bid sheet to bid. If you have electronic (text) bidding, signage like this still helps guests to see what items interest them at a glance.

After each silent auction section closes, it’s fast and easy to write in winning bidders and display these in front of the Checkout area so patrons can easy check to see who won.

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions

►Auction Signage, the Signs

October 7, 2014 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of silent auction signage

Clearly label each silent auction section

People often ask me about the Silent Auction Signage I use.
Providing much of the standard event signage is one of additional benefits I provide to my nonprofit clients. Why should each of my clients spend hundreds of dollars on signage they’ll only use once a year?
Instead, over the years I’ve purchased all kinds of handy signage, and I can pull from this stash and bring 8-12 signs for a client, saving them time, hassle and money. (With the added benefit that I know we’ll have good signs to add polish and professionalism!)

Ask your auctioneer if they provide signage that says:
-LIVE AUCTION
-SILENT AUCTION (or silent auction section names like SUPER SILENT, DON’T MISS, BLING THINGS, OUT ON THE TOWN, or many others)
-REGISTRATION (and/or EXPRESS CHECK-IN, REGISTERED ONLINE, WILL CALL, NEED TICKETS)
-CHECKOUT (and/or PAY HERE, CREDIT CARD CHECKOUT, CASH/CHECKS CHECKOUT, EXPRESS CHECKOUT, -DONATIONS ONLY, GET INVOICE HERE)
-PICK UP ITEMS (or ITEM HANDOVER)
-CHANCE TO WIN
-PURCHASE TICKETS
-BIG BOARD

If that’s not part of the services for the auctioneer you choose, then I hope these signage ideas help you to create your own signage and make it easy for your guests to experience all your event has to offer them!

Categories: About GALA GAL, Consulting, Event Logistics, Live Auctions, Silent auctions

►Silent Auction Signage

September 20, 2014 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of silent auction signage

It’s easy to see these silent auction sections

In 2004 I built these tabletop sign poles for a client. They are about 5 feet high, and have a wide base meant to sit on top of the table so that guests can see and read them from 50-100 feet away across a ballroom or down a long hall. The problem I see groups make is either that they don’t have any silent auction section signage at all, or the signage they have is lost on the tables or lost on easels, only readable to the handful of folks standing within a few feet.

Get your auction signage higher, clearer, and bolder.
Make it easy for people to spend money!

Categories: Better Buyers, Consulting, Event Logistics, Silent auctions