If you've never done an auction before, it can be pretty crazy trying to figure out all the necessary pieces. How many volunteers do I need? Who does what?
Here is a quick and easy list of the different positions you might need to make up an auction. These are based on best practices, and will vary in detail based on what you're trying to do at your event.
Check in/ registration
The check in team are the MVPs of your event. I recommend filling it with staff, starting with your finance team, and most trusted volunteers to support them.
Since this is the first encounter guests will have at your event, its important that this group is trained ahead of time on your process, how to handle any issues that might come up (and you will have issues, trust me) and most importantly, how to greet and interact positively with guests.
I also like to make sure that this same group of people do check out ( more on that later).
For silent auction
Some people also call these positions Table Guards, but I prefer table guards because their job isn't just to stand their and look at all your guests like security guards at Walmart. Good table hosts talk to guests as they come by the tables. They are knowledgeable about the packages and can strike up conversations with guests and make suggestions on bidding.
“Do you have any kids? They might live this trip to the zoo.”
Go for the full guest experience, not just a person standing at a table staring blankly into the crowd.
This position can be a mix of your table hosts and any floaters that you might have. After the silent auction is closed, this group helps consolidate packages and bring them to the checkout area, so that they are ready to go home with the winning bidders.
This group will also make sure that all of the silent auction sheets go to checkout for processing.
Pro tip: make sure that you have a large board, or presentation slide where you can display the silent auction winners during dinner. This way people know if they won something and if they are willing to spend more money before the live auction begins.
For live auction/ fund a need
I recommend contracting a professional. Even if you know someone willing to do it for free, make sure they have experience, or you could end up leaving money on the table at your next event.
This group help get the auctioneers attention during the auction. Whether its flags, or light up wands, or just yelling, this group helps make sure that no one who wants to participate is missed. Most auctioneers will want to talk to spotters, recorders, and runners before the auction and organize them into a system that works for them.
This is a super important job. These people write down the winning bids as they're made. They are your way of knowing how much money was made.
The number of recorders that you have totally depends on what you're comfortable with.
I've seen orgs do one, or like to safeguard by having two.
For large events (over 200 people) or if my recorders aren't seasoned, I actually like to have 3 recorders. Seems like overkill right?
Well I've had instances where 2 different people hear two different amounts, or 2 different bid numbers. Or since things are happening super fast, maybe they just write the number down in the wrong order. Bidder number 123 and 132 are two very different people. I like to have a third recorder as a comparison if these things come up.
Again, this is totally up to you, what works for your event, and your comfort level.
This position tends to be a little different at every auction, because its based on how you specifically set up your payment processing system. Here are some ways that I've seen the position of runners used:
- Writing down winning bids and running them to tables for bidders to sign ( this isn't my favorite system because its hard for runners to get all of their bids written down and signed during a fund a need, and it creates duplicate work with the recorders)
- Taking carbon sheets from recorders and running them to tables for bidders to sign and swiping cards. This is system works when you don't have auction software. It can be a little hectic for volunteers, so make sure they are well trained and organized beforehand. I also recommend putting your most seasoned auction volunteers on this to help out.
- Taking the sheets that recorders write a list of all bids on and running them to checkout for processing. This works the best with auction software.
I recommend having the same people at check in/ check out because they've had the time to familiarize themselves with the registration system that you will be using, and also will be more familiar with guests. Both of these things may seem small, but it can take a lot of time bringing someone new into this position who has no idea how people were checked in, doesn't know processing, and still needs to get familiar with the action packages. Not to mention, by keeping the same crew here, you don't have to worry about volunteers being late or not showing.
They will be entering bidding information into software like Greater Giving, or organizing bidder receipts if you are using another card swipe system, like Square.
They will also make sure that guests receive their winnings at the end of the night (less packing for you!) and answer any questions that guests might have.
There you have it! All the positions you might need at your next auction. Remember, none of this is set in stone, so feel free to add to, or subtract from this list as you see fit. Its all about what works best for your event.
What do you think of this list? Do you have any other positions, or variations of these positions that you use for your auction? Let me know in the comments below!