SchoolAuction.net recently spoke with Mary Ellen Holmes with Covenant Preparatory School about her experience with SchoolAuction.net. Our conversation touched on the software mostly, but Mary Ellen has some other helpful auction insights as well. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.
Hi Mary Ellen, thanks so much for speaking with us today. Can you start off by telling me a little bit about your event?
Sure. We held a gala in February and used the SchoolAuction.net software, which was perfect for our event. It was so easy to use. We are in the process of planning our gala for next year, and we’re going to go ahead and use SchoolAuction.net again, but we’re going to get it set up sooner this year.
What was your favorite part of the auction experience overall?
In reference to the software, it was the ease of use, the functionality, and most importantly, it was easy to put in all of our auction items. The auction went smoothly. My favorite part of it were the reports afterwards. I was able to pull any and all information that I needed, including our IRS letters.
Did the auction have any hiccups?
I only had one. During the registration, I had someone who already had an auction paddle number. They didn’t come, so we were trying to assign it to someone else. The software wouldn’t let me do it, so I place a phone call to SchoolAuction.net. I was answered right away. I received the answer that I needed, and was able to move ahead from there.
This all happened in real time?
Yes, on the spot.
What do you know now that you wish you knew going into the auction?
I wish we had purchased the software sooner. You can put so much information into the software, and we only had a few weeks to upload everything. It was a little difficult to get everything in the software. Now that I’ve used it and I’m familiar with it, I’ve realized that we can put more information in there that we didn’t.
What advice would you give to someone brand new at organizing an event like this?
Plan, plan, and plan. You just can’t plan enough, because there’s going to be things that come up at the last minute. Have a really good committee with really good agendas, and then follow that.
Second, use the software and acquaint yourself with it before you really have to. Spend a lot of time with the software before you actually start using it.
How user-friendly did you feel the software was for the auction attendees?
It was user friendly. The auction went without a glitch.
How long did you spend on planning the auction?
We started planning August, and our gala was in February. This year, we started planning in March for our gala that’s next February, so we will be planning for the entire year. We’ve learned a lot.