In a previous life, I hosted a radio show where I had a boss who, on occasion, would have me record & then transcribe my program. "Write down everything you said today between 8-10am he'd say". Then we'd go through and cross out everything I said that was redundant, not thought out or just plain dumb with a red pen. The lesson was simple: There were plenty of "red line moments" in those 2 hours.
It taught me was that it's difficult to edit/evaluate yourself on the fly and that things may not always be going as well as we would like. It's hard to see the details when you are in the middle of a radio show. The same goes for a major fundraising auction. When we take time to step back and for an honest look at things, we identify potential elements of our evening that may be alienating the people who pay our bills.
Digital Video recorders are cheap. They are a great tool we can use to evaluate our auctions. It doesn't have to be professional grade. Just set a tripod with a camera next to the stage and let it run while your auction takes place. The camera lens will not blink. Good chance you will learn something.
- How long did your Board Member's 3 minute speech REALLY take?
- Were presenters prepared when they got on stage?
- Did the auctioneer really say it was 10 nights in Mexico instead of 6?
- Did 30% of our crowd really leave after the Fund A Need?
- Was putting that volunteer on stage really a good idea?
- How many people were actually bidding on that "last minute" item that MUST BE added to the Live?
We spend a lot of time trying to keep things on schedule at a benefit auction. We do it, because it's important. A sure fire way to see your revenue decline is to develop a reputation for a long auction. I've found that most of the things that put us behind schedule, can be prevented. But we must be willing to honestly evaluate everything once the dust has settled.
It's really not designed to be critical or point fingers. But I hear auction committees say all the time say "everything went great" and I wonder if we were watching the same auction.
An added bonus is that you have a documented record of anyone who might later retract a bid or question something that was said during a description.