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The video above gives pointers on having the ideal live auction.



The Live Lots Coordinator manages everything to do with the live auction.

Live Auction divides into 7 steps:

Step 1:  Create Your Sub-Committee

Step 2:  Strategize 

Step 3:  Assemble Lots 

Step 4:  Group Items & Auction Lots 

Step 5:  Items Received & Lots Display 

Step 6:  Auction Strategy & Planning 

Step 7:  Lot Copy & Bid Sheets


  Step 1: Create a Subcommittee
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Live Auction

 Choose one (or more) coordinator to oversee this area of auction:

•  5-6 killer lots that pack a punch.
•  This coordinator has good connections to solicit lot donations.



Step 2: Strategize


    Begin strategizing 8 months out.  It's never too early.

    Brainstorm about your ideal lots. "Think "wouldn't it be great if we had . . .    A dinner at a fabulous home? A weekend in someone's ski 
A trip to Mexico?"   (You know, the usual suspects.)  Below under Step 3 you'll read some of our ideas.

    Strategize about who to approach to for donations.        
Donation Solicitation Fast Facts from Naples

 Professionally solicit auction lots:  
    Use your event’s official stationary (created by the Event & Marketing chairs) to   

Sample Solicitation Cover letter
One-Sheet Donation Request Template 

  WW&S Lots.  Lot Display.  
    Start working with a Lot Display Coordinators & thinking about the best ways to display your Silent Auction items.

    Start thinking about ideal auctioneers for your crowd.  The best book up months in advance.
Many groups struggle finding
    auctioneers who fit their audience
.  Portland had great success contracting the lead performer of a local drag show (below left photo).
    She had energy, she knew how to work a crowd.  It 
wouldn't work everywhere, but it was a ton of fun and effective in Portland.

 "Steer" clear of auctioneers using the “cattle calling” technique preferred at cattle auctions (below right photo).  There's nothing chic about this.


 Yes  No
dragqueenauctioneer CattleCall



    STEP 3:  Assemble Lots

Track Your Lots

• Don't lose your lots!!  Create inventory spreadsheets:

 Sample Contents Spreadsheet

You will receive more shipments than you care to count.  Designate someone to properly receive and inventory all incoming lot items by sub-committee.  Then store them in a safe long-term area.  Some items may go missing (stolen or lost) so we suggest a receipt deadline of two weeks prior to the event date so everything can be accounted for in advance.

Example Lots

•  Brainstorm about your ideal lots. "Think "wouldn't it be great if we had . . .    A dinner at a fabulous home? A weekend in
   someone's ski 
cabin?   A trip to Mexico?"   (You know, the usual suspects.)  

•  WW&S Lots:  
check out some of our popular lots  Click Here to See Example Lots



Silent Auction Mixed Case


Lots Display

 Example Lot Display: 

•  Good lot display HUGELY impacts revenue.  Look through the pictures on
    this page & begin thinking about the lots coming in & how to set 
up to their best 
    advantage. What props do you need? 



Step 4: Group Items & Auction Lots


• Once you have collected a lot of donated auction items, you'll need to group things together.  
  Which items go best in Key-to-the-Closet? What works together as a good packages in Silent Auction, et cetera? together as a
  good packages in Silent Auction, et cetera.

• Don't lose track of lots.  Organize them in a spreadsheet like this one Sample Contents Spreadsheet


Step 5:  Items Received & Lot Display 


• Have you received all of your lots?  Check and check again.

• Think about attractive, creative display ideas & work on obtaining any necessary props


Step 6: Auction  Strategy & Planning  



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Live Auction

 Strategy & Planning: 

  Start the auction with your least important lot–a warm up lot. 

  Place your most important lot about 2/3 of the way through or at the end. 
   People will be waiting for  this.

  Have a Fund-a-Cause "Cash Call"A cash call during a live auction can raise $30,000.  
   Name it "Fund a Cause", "Fund a Dream", "Fund a Wish", etc.  Invite the audience to
   bid on services or opportunities for your charity: a new hospital room, new equipment,
   etc.  Remind guests that this is an opportunity to give without getting back.


Watch this video on the Ideal Cash Call:



Strategy:·   Position the cash call in the middle of the live auction, before the most
important lot.

  Show an emotional video (no more than 2 min.) about your charity before the cash call.

  Before the event, ensure there's one good bidder (a "sure thing") in the audience–  
ne you know plans to give money.  Speak with this person before your event,
   and ask her or him to be the first to "fund a wish" if 
others aren't bidding.  This will
   entice others to give

•  Begin the bidding at 50-60 percent of the lot's value.  Be sure to list the lot value in  
   your display & programs.

•  Timeline:  Live Auction with Cash Call:  25 minutes

→ Cash Call (a.k.a. Fund a Cause):   If you don’t do this in the right way it can cost you 10KOccurs 1/2 to 2/3 into the auction, not at the end b/c audience loses enthusiasm, or at the start because they’re not warmed up.   Tie the "fund a cause" to concrete outcomes e.g. $10K gets x number of kids out of foster care, saving the State x number of dollars

→ A "Heartfelt Story"Immediately precedes "Cash Call". You need to have video for the full impact.  A live person has a challenge of being fallible--too long-winded, boring, not good at triggering people's emotions.

•  Music in the background during the auction gets louder between lots and revs up the

•  Create a Powerpoint presentation or slideshow of photos that corresponds to each lot so
   guests can “see” what they’re bidding on (i.e. photos of the winery, etc.) is fundamental.
sure the order of the hotos is “in sync” with the order of the lots in the event program.

•  ALWAYS hold the live auction BEFORE the fashion show. This ensures guests remain 
   seated and builds momentum. The auctioneer should dedicate no more than 2-3 minutes 
   to describing each lot to sustain guests’ attention.

•  Hearing a name pronounced incorrectly is always painful, especially when it’s   
   preventable. Rehearse the pronunciation of all names in all of the lots in case they are 
   present at the event.  

•  Have volunteers assigned as spotters who “communicate” with the auctioneer.  This 
   helps everyone in this process. 

•  The value of a lot will raise significantly when the auctioneer reminds the guests that the 
   wine country experiences are “once in a lifetime opportunities that are not open to the 
   general public” and “cannot  be duplicated” – this language is essential in describing the 
   hospitality lots. 


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Lots Display 

 Strategy & Planning: 

  Allow at least 3 hours on event day to arrange the Key to the Closet display

  The Key to the Closet coordinator needs help on event day to assist with display set up

•  Create a display that corresponds to each lot so guests can “see” what they’re
    bidding on (i.e. photos of the winery, etc.) is fundamental. (See the property &
    other photos in the slideshow.)

  Borrow or buy props and frames to create a "still life" display for each lot

• Certain lots (wine magnums,etc.) speak for themselves & don't require much display
   room.Others(trips, spa days, interior design consultation, etc.) become more appealing
   with photos or props. 

•  Dedicate one to two feet on a display table for the more complex packages.  It makes 
   a huge difference if they are not all crammed together.

  Each silent lot display should be a minimum of 20 inches wide

  Each live lot display should be a minimum 30 inches wide

  Locate silent auction & K2C in a central locations ( i.e center of the room) at the
   event so that they are seen. When displays are hidden or located at an event
   entrance, guests forget about 
the auctions. 

  Good lot display HUGELY impacts revenue--not only with silent, but with live auction.  
   It's worth taking the  time to do this well. 

Step 7: Lot Copy & Bid Sheets


• Click here for samples of Lot Copy.

 It frustrates guests when they can't determine which bid sheet goes with what display.  Remember to put a BID # on both your display & 
  the corresponding bid sheet.  Also make space between each lot -- See the notes about this on LOT DISPLAY

 Provide well-detailed lot descriptions in event programs. Many guests who intend to bid read these  thoroughly before the auction begins. If
  the auctioneer forgets to mention a key component, or if the winning bidder thought the lotincluded something it didn't, it will be in writing.

 The value of a lot rises when the guests are reminded a lot is a “once in a lifetime opportunity that is not open to the general public” and    
  “cannot be duplicated” – this language is essential in describing the hospitality lots.


Lessons Learned


  Auctioneer did not go in same lot order as event program and guests became lost

  25 auction lots before the fashion show made for many bored, unhappy guests

  Always keep the wine flowing!

• Ask those donating to lots if they’d be willing to donate “2” of their item in case the lot  sells twice, which happens often 
    when it is compelling.

  Incorrect lot detail in event program – make sure this is signed off by Auction Chair and WW&S

  Drunk auctioneer - all the more reason to hire a pro

 Broken sound system and no one could hear the auctioneer


Sample Documents

(For Viewing & Downloading)

View & Download these helpful samples & tools:

Lot Copy Samples:


 Sample Auction Programs:

Auction Lots Napa Program 2010


Auction Timeline