How to Decide the Perfect Number of Live Auction Items For Your Charity Auction

Placing your headline entertainment at the appropriate point in your benefit auction is important to the ultimate goal of raising more money.  Sometimes your event will dictate when the auction and entertainment must take place, but here are some guidelines.

For evening galas with a dinner, you will silent auction display ideas ideally want to conduct the live auction over dinner, and follow the fundraising with the headliner.  At times this format isn’t practical.

For instance, my company recently worked a prestigious auction of 600 guests.  The performing headliner was Wynton Marsalis, and his performance schedule only allowed him a small window during which he could make an appearance in Washington, D.C. before heading to New York.  Because we had to work around his schedule, guests enjoyed his 45-minute performance (and they even danced!) before dinner.  During dinner, we conducted the live auction and had record-breaking results.

For daytime events, multi-day conventions and trade shows, the headliner is often positioned during lunch.  This makes sense because the noon meal tends to be when attendance is the greatest.  Conduct the auction first, and follow with the headline performance.

One client asked me if they should put the auction on a separate day.  Although the variables can be many, consider these advantages to keeping the auction and the headliner on the same day:

  • You’ll have the greatest amount of people in the room, and the crowd won’t leave until the headliner performs.  A larger audience often results in larger auction revenues.
  • Your sound system is already set up to accommodate the performer and could easily be tweaked for the the auction.  Renting the sound system for one day instead of two is more cost effective.
  • You can be tallying your auction results and preparing for check-out while guests listen to the headliner.  When the crowd shows up at your cashiering table to pay for their items, you’ll be ready!