Silent Auction Set Up
Attending a fundraising event is an experience—and guests will only participate and return next year if they have a good time. Your silent auction layout
should make it obvious and intuitive to find important landmarks such as registration, the package display room, bathrooms, the dining room, checkout and item pickup.
Leave plenty of space between package display tables for guests to look, bid, and move past to other areas of the room without crowding. Events that are disorganized, cramped, or have long lines can be stressful for guests, and won’t foster the fun, charitable mood that encourages giving.
They say first impressions are the most important, and an event check-in line can set the tone for the rest of the event. If registering for the silent auction is simple
and moves quickly, guests can get inside and start bidding right away.
But a busy check-in line with long wait times can frustrate and annoy guests before they even walk inside. Attendees want to have a cocktail, socialize, and browse the auction packages—not wait in line!
No More Waiting in the Check-in Line!
At some of the best fundraising events, guests simply have to pick up their bid paddles when they arrive. The more registration details you can handle before the event starts, the less guests (and volunteers) will have to do at registration—and the faster the line moves.
Many silent auction software packages offer online ticket sales and credit card registration, so guest data is already in the system and doesn’t have to be gathered at the registration table. Using mobile bidding can even eliminate check-in lines further!
VIPs and VIP lines
Some nonprofit organizations like to use separate VIP lines
from regular guest check-in, so sponsors and their guests can get appropriate treatment from a staff member who knows the guest list.
This is especially important when many sponsor guests are still unknowns, and have to be registered and added to the guest list manually.
Create teams of silent auction volunteers
to set up each part of the auction—registration, auction items, tables and chairs, and any signage or decorations. Make sure all staff and volunteers know in advance which team they’re on, their responsibilities, and their timeline.
One of the easiest ways to improve the flow of movement through your event is to guide guests with large, clear signage.
Indicate at the entrance to your venue where to find registration—it should be able to catch all guests before they enter the event. During dinner, remove signage for registration, and add indicators for Item Pickup and Checkout
. Place signs where all guests will see them, and position volunteers nearby who can help direct and answer questions.
Emcees and Scheduled Programming
Make sure you have a way to communicate with guests
throughout your venue, whether through a PA system or volunteers. Announce silent auction closings before they happen so guests anywhere in the venue can return to the room to place their final bids. It’s a good idea to hire an emcee to relay the event schedule to guests, announce speakers, and encourage a fun, playful atmosphere.