What is Needed For a Charity Auction

During the course of my consultations with clients, we often discuss an appeal. If the organization is new to the concept, I explain it to them. One of the first questions I am asked is, “Don’t you think that we’ll make less money in the silent and live auction if we also conduct an appeal?”

No, I don’t.

Here’s a wedding-based analogy to explain my point.

I’ve attended a few weddings during which the bride and groom unique silent auction ideas have a money dance. For a song or two, a guest can dance with either the bride or groom for a fee. Depending on the crowd, the guests might pay $5 to $100 for the privilege of busting a move with one of the newly-married individuals.

Given that each of those guests has already given a wedding gift to the couple, anyone who contributes during the money dance is “gifting twice.” Do they care?

I don’t think they do. I don’t believe it affects the actions of any guests. Those that want to dance will dance, regardless of whether they already gave a gift to the couple.

Imagine the scene. The music is jamming, guests are dining on good food and strong drinks, and everyone is chatting. In the midst of this great time, it’s announced that there will be a money dance. Joe and Helen, two of the guests, cheer and clap with the crowd: “Whoo Hooo!”

Joe is excited! He’s happy for the couple! He jumps up to grab the bride for a dance.

Which scenario happens next?

1. Joe whisks the bride around the floor to a fast polka while slipping her a $20 bill.

OR

2. Joe stops abruptly at the edge of the dance floor. “WHOA. Wait a second,” he thinks, “We gave this couple a gift. My wife bought them sheets and I wrapped them earlier today. Those greedy, unappreciative kids. We already gave them a gift, and they have the nerve to ask for more.” Joe skulks back to his chair.

I’ve never seen the second scenario happen. Have you? It seems the decision to make a cash gift donation occupies a different place in our psyche than the decision to bid in a live or silent auction.

 

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