Despite this, many organizations still like to have a live auction as part of their charity event.
A question that often comes up when I’m working with clients is: Where should we place the Fund-A-Need in relation to the live auction?
Your Fund-A-Need can happen before, during, or after the live auction. Over the past year I’ve done all three and there are pros and cons to each.
After the Live Auction
The most popular time to have a Fund-A-Need is after the live auction.
It is perfectly fine to have the Fund-A-Need after the live auction unless:
- Your auction has more than eight items
- Your crowd is particularly rowdy and drunk
- Your crowd tends to leave early
- Your event takes place in the afternoon
These factors lead to more people getting bored and leaving your event early, which means that many of them will not be around for the Fund-A-Need portion of the evening.
Now, I’m a really engaging auctioneer (if I do say so myself) but keep in mind that during a typical live auction only about 10-20 people participate. The more items in your live auction, the more time the majority of your audience will be disengaged and at risk of boredom.
During the Live Auction
I only do a Fund-A-Need in the middle of a live auction if the auction contains more than ten items and I’ll tell you why.
Once the auction gets rolling it is really hard to stop the momentum. Not only that, but it’s hard to get that momentum going again.
At any live auction there is an energy build-up that happens. The first item or two up for auction tends to be bid on less enthusiastically while this energy grows. After a couple items everyone is ready to bid and we’re off to the races! Interrupting the live auction destroys this energy and forces the room to start building that energy all over again.
The first item after the Fund-A-Need becomes a sacrifice to the Fund-A-Need gods. It’s likely to sell for less than you would like as we work to build that energy again.
It’s also confusing for people to go from buying things, to serious and excited about your cause, and back to buying things. With a longer auction this isn’t as huge of a deal because there are more items to sell which allows for that energy build-up to happen again.
Before the Live Auction
Putting the Fund-A-Need before the live auction is controversial and I’m only starting to appreciate the merits of this practice.
If you have a rowdy crowd, enthusiastic drinkers, or a lengthy program you want to catch people when the excitement is high, which typically happens at the beginning of the event once everyone is seated.
Holding the Fund-A-Need ahead of the live auction virtually guarantees you’ll get everyone engaged in giving, allowing them to just relax and enjoy the rest of the night. And you, as the development professional, won’t care how much they drink or how much they talk because the money’s already been raised.
Many people dread the Fund-A-Need because some auctioneers (not us!) create an awkward and uncomfortable atmosphere during this part of the evening. It’s only after the Fund-A-Need is out of the way that people feel like they can start enjoying themselves.
The Fund-A-Need is the only time of the evening when everyone comes together as one big group. Inclusivity is a key aspect of Fund-A-Needs, unlike live auctions where very few people are actually participating, making this an excellent way to kick off the event.
My advice, when placing your Fund-A-Need before your live auction, is to go straight into the Fund-A-Need while people are enjoying their salads. No speakers, no awards, just the Fund-A-Need. A well-run Fund-A-Need starts the evening off right and gets everyone excited to continue giving.
Regardless of where your nonprofit decides to place the Fund-A-Need in the evening’s program, your Fund-A-Need success relies heavily on the energy and excitement in the room. For more tips and tricks, check out my post on getting your Fund-A-Need to work harder for you, or grab a copy of my free ebook 8 Easy Steps to Your Best Fund-A-Need Ever.