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►Multi-year Agreements?

November 7, 2017 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
photo of GALA GAL Jenelle Taylor

Yes, you should consider multi-year contracts

Recently I emailed an organization in Tampa with a really cool, unique event, asking if they had an auctioneer already for spring 2018.

Here’s the reply:

I have hired my auctioneer with a five- year,  first-right-of- refusal contract. Thank you for your interest. We can revisit you in 2020.

I was like, “Wow, 2020! Ok, then, they are taking this 5-year thing *seriously*. And then I thought, “Kudos to you, unknown auctioneer, who talked your client into this job security, rare in our line of work.”

But here’s the thing – I soon found out it wasn’t the auctioneer’s idea – it was the Event Chair’s!

Check this out:

“I have been doing events since 1986 and after my first year working with everyone I’ve nailed them into a five-year contract. It just helps so I do not have to re-create the wheel every year.”

How.Wise. Is. That? I mean, crazy smart, right?

Once you know you like an auctioneer’s style and you like working with them, or like a DJ, a caterer, a venue, an emcee, etc., doesn’t it make your life sooooo much easier to not recreate the wheel each year? Of course you can have a new theme, new decor, maybe different entertainment, but good auctioneers are hard to find, as are ideal venues, especially those with great food. Wouldn’t it make your life soooo much easier to agree to a longer-term partnership than 3 months, 6 months, or even a year?

I was pretty blown away by the crystal clear logic of this Event Chair with 30 years of experience.

I think it’s something we would all benefit from, so if you love your venue, emcee or auctioneer, next time give them first right of refusal beyond year 2, as a show of goodwill (and a commitment to your sanity!)

 

Categories: Auctioneers, Consulting, Event Logistics

►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

►”America’s Worst Charities”

June 10, 2013 - Author: Jenelle Taylor, CAI BAS
Tampa Bay Times

“America’s Worst Charities” June 9, 2013 3-part series

Back in the headlines, and not in a good way.

“America’s Worst Charities” is the result of a yearlong collaboration between the Tampa Bay Times and California-based The Center for Investigative Reporting, the nation’s largest and longest serving nonprofit newsroom dedicated to watchdog journalism. CNN joined the partnership in March.

I’m all for investigative journalism, and I agree that this story needs to be told. We all want any unscrupulous groups to be exposed, so that America’s donated dollars go instead to groups where they’ll do the most charitable good.

We’ve talked about this before, however, lamenting the possibility that today’s overwhelmed reader takes in the negative sound bite “worst charities” without putting the headlines in context. This year-long series focuses on 50 of  5,800 groups identified nationwide that spend the majority of funds raised on expenses rather than causes. It’s great information that’s important to expose…but there are 1.6 million nationally registered non-profits (and nearly 200,000 congregations), so those 5,800 offenders represent about 1/3 of 1% of America’s charities.

I wish there was such sensational press coverage about the more than 99.6% of known non-profits striving to do the right thing with donors’ dollars. The article says,

“several watchdog organizations say charities should spend no more than 35  percent of the money they raise on fundraising expenses”

Many of you have expenses much, much less than 35% of your intake.

All the more reason for you to tell your amazing story. Share where donated dollars go via your website, Facebook, Twitter, and annual reports. Take 10 minutes to get the Guidestar Valued Partner badge and issue a press release!

You’re out there killing yourself to raise money so you can feed more families, clothe more kids, finally find a cure. It’s okay – no, it’s imperative – that you take time to share your story. We can’t let the bad press be America’s soundbite.

Categories: Board members, Charity, Consulting