The big day is here – time for the Auction. You’ll want to have all the certificates (Live Auction) and bidding sheets (Silent Auction) filled out in advance, along with 8-10 extra blank copies for last-minute donations. You will want to post a list of all the items up for bid throughout the church. If your Auction is on a Sunday, you might also opt to put a copy of the item list in the bulletin announcements. Be sure to highlight some of the big / expensive items that might draw in a person who wouldn’t otherwise be interested in attending.
Set up the Silent Auction items on long tables around the perimeter of the room. Be sure to allow enough space next to each item for “elbow room” among the bidders. You will also want to have space for a few extra tables – again, for the last minute donations. Have all the Silent Auction items in place at least one hour in advance. The people who arrive early can get a head start on the items they want to bid on.
Once the official start of the Auction arrives, begin with a few opening remarks…including, but not limited to:
- Opening Prayer
- Thanks to all donors
- Thanks to the person calling the Live Auction
- Mention of any refreshments available
- Indication of what projects / trips the Auction supports
- Brief explanation of bidding procedure
- Clarification of when the Silent Auction ends (probably 15 minutes after the Live Auction ends)
- Turn it over to the Auctioneer
Have a table set up next to the front podium where you and another helper will sit during the Live Auction. Your job is to make sure there isn’t any confusion of who is the winning bidder. Your helper can fill out the certificates. Once the bidding is closed on an item, the winner should immediately come to the front to receive their certificate (and item, if applicable).
When the Live Auction has concluded, be sure to thank the Auctioneer once again, and indicate the official time that the Silent Auction will close. At that point, people are welcome to leave. The most important thing is to make sure they “cash out” before leaving. Put a small table with a cash box near the exit. Have a couple of trustworthy people working the table. The certificates (Live) and bidder sheets (Silent) serve as their receipts. The people working the table will add up the total amounts of the certificates and bidding sheets and ask the winning bidder to pay AT THAT TIME. Most people will pay with a check, but be prepared to make change for large dollar bills in some cases. Try your best to avoid I.O.U.’s, but not to the point of jeopardizing a good relationship with a church member.
Once the dust has settled and everyone has left, put up your feet, pour yourself something cold to drink, and celebrate the fruits of your labors. Not only have you raised money for your ministry, but you have created an intergenerational event for your congregation…one that will continue to foster relationships in the months ahead as people begin to redeem their prizes.
The final installment of this four-part series will include a brief synopsis of how to follow-up with people after the Auction, and to make sure people continue to have positive feelings about the event.