4 Tasks that Waste Volunteer’s Time… for low returns

27 Jan 2013 By Roger Devine

Let’s face it, there’s a lot to do to make your fundraising event a success. Chances are, right now you’re up to your armpits in planning, procurement, and volunteer organization… all so that event night will come off without a hitch.

You’ve got your volunteers to help, but everybody has busy schedules and limited time to take on the details of auction planning.

Rather than adding another tip to your bag of tricks, today we’re going to do you one better… and give you a list of the most common time-wasters in the auction planning process.

These are the tasks that take your time and drain your volunteers, but don’t actually do anything to make your event more successful. (Auction planners; hang on to your hats. A few of these may surprise you).

Here is a list of the biggest time wasters in auction planning:

  • Assigning Bid Numbers before check-in - You may want to make elaborate bid packets - with a catalog, bid number, name tag, drink tickets, and more in them. That can be fun, and worthwhile, if you have a volunteer who is perfect for the job. Do yourself a favor, however - don’t write a name on the envelope (or name tag) - that way, your check-in volunteers don’t have to dig for a pre-assigned number; they can just grab the top packet on the stack, enter that bid number into the check-in screen on your SchoolAuction.net site, and get the guest on your way.

  • Assigning Seats - If your event has fewer than 300 guests, let people sit where they want to… it’s more fun for them and easier for you. If you are running a larger event than that, and know ahead of time who the likely high bidders will be, it’s worth making sure that they are seated strategically, within easy view of the auctioneer. But even then, why not upgrade them to special reserved tables, and let the rest of the crowd sit where they want.

  • Decorating Bid Sheets. I know, it’s tempting to pretty up those silent auction table lists but the truth is fancy flowers or a sexy logo won’t have any impact at all on the number of bidders you get to sign that sheet. Tip: Spend your aesthetic energy on making the silent auction displays look beautiful.

  • Over-procuring Silent Auction Items - This topic deserves its own post (coming soon!), but you should know that there is definitely a diminishing return on your silent auction as the number of items increases. You wind up spreading out the bidding, and everything goes for a lower % of its fair market value. Since silent-auction procurement is one of the most stressful, time-consuming volunteer jobs, you also run the risk of burning out a good volunteer if you try to get enough items for every guest to be able to win something. We recommend this simple formula for securing the right number of items: # of guests ÷ 2 x .35 = the right # of silent auction items (or lots).

Auction volunteers tend to be very busy people who are somehow squeezing a few extra hours out of their weeks to help with event planning. When the planning process get’s too involved or details, volunteers tend to get burnt out. Can you relate?

Keeping it simple and staying focused on the tasks that really matter is the best way to keep your volunteers coming back to help, year after year.

We know because we’ve been on your side of the bid sheet. So, let us know how we can best support your process.

We’re in this together.