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What the “free” auctioneer will cost you

June 22, 2012 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS

A Development Director said via e-mail this week:

Due to a very tight budget, the committee is searching for an auctioneer that will donate their time for this event.

As a full-time fundraiser for the past 10 years, I understand completely about tight budgets and wanting to limit expenses. In fact, I daresay I understand this better than most auctioneers in the country, for two reasons:

1. First, the GALA GAL motto is “We teach charities how to raise more money and keep 100%.”  In fact, nearly 75% of my clients don’t pay anything out of pocket for my services, thus making me “free”. We accomplish this in multiple ways, but primarily by applying a “Collective Contribution” to each winning bid in the auctions. That way, the folks who have directly benefited from the auction experience are the ones who subsidize it. This is also called a “Shared Subsidy” or, in traditional auction terms, a Buyer’s Premium. It is fantastic for non-profit auctions, and works like a charm! We’ve used a Buyer’s Premium in Florida on silent and live auctions nearing $200,000, with not a single issue, question or complaint. It works because it’s straightforward, honest, and clearly in the best interest of you, the non-profit, keeping the most possible dollars.

2. Second, in 2005, my company won the Greater Orlando Business Ethics Award, specifically because we offered non-profits a way to receive a licensed, fundraising-specific auctioneer and consultant for no out-of-pocket cost using the Buyer’s Premium.

I replied to this Development Director, “We know that the result everyone wants for your non-profit is for the guests to have a great time learning more about the community work you’re doing and feel compelled to either donate outright, bid on auction items or both. When you can do that and be certain that the polish and profit gained will far exceed your outlay, it is a wise investment in spending money to make money.”

You want your guests to leave saying, “That was a great Live Auction!” 

If they’re NOT saying that, then what ARE they saying?

That’s why it just makes sense to retain a professional for your event.

Any true fundraising auctioneer will be able to show you multiple ways she can pay for herself, so don’t get so hung up on how you’re going to compensate your professional, just focus on finding the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist whose skills best match your needs.

When in doubt, remember…

The free guy doesn’t know (and thus can’t help you with)…

  •  38 Ways to Create Prepared Bidders
  • The one simple thing you can do with a pen to increase silent auction bidding results by 20% or more
  • 7 Concrete Ways to Invigorate the Biggest Supporters in the room
  • 4 Specific Techniques during the Live Auction to Engage the 90% who aren’t bidding on the bigger items, 
  • and countless other fundraising-specific strategies to maximize your 1 Night, Once a Year event.  


Categories: Auctioneers, Buyer's Premium, Consulting, Live Auctions - Tag: , , ,