Benefit Auction Audience Diversification – Tips to Encourage Youth to Attend Your Fundraising Gala

Without a doubt, my pet peeve during this economic recession has been when the Executive Director, Auction Chair, or some other person silent auction display ideas of importance gets up to the microphone to say a few words at the benefit auction (e.g. thank sponsors and guests, etc.) and then – immediately before I walk onstage – pleads with the audience to “bid high, even though the economy is really bad right now.”

Ugh! What are they doing?!

Remember this. You will never, ever, ever get more money out of a group of people if you remind them of how bad they’ve got it. And besides, to whom is your spokesperson speaking?

Consider your audience. No one sitting in your crowd has it that bad.

  • Some of your guests just paid $50 .. or $100 .. or $250 … or $500 to attend your benefit auction. In the larger scheme of life, they are doing well.
  • Some of your guests are sitting at their employer’s sponsored table. In that case, we know they are employed. In the larger scheme of life, they are doing well.
  • Some of your guests are sitting at their friend’s table. Their friend paid for their ticket. If their friend can afford to buy multiple tickets, we will assume – by association – that everyone at that table is financially stable. In the larger scheme of life, they are doing well.

Every single person sitting in your benefit can afford to make a donation to your cause. And instead of asking them to give heartily, you’ve just reminded them to count their pennies.

Instead, remind guests to count their blessings.

Remind them of how they’ve got it easy. Remind them that we have all become so accustomed to our luxuries (clean water … cars … electricity) that we tend to forget that others around us may need a helping hand. Remind them of your mission. Remind them that they can be a hero to someone whom they’ll likely never meet, but someone who will remember that generosity forever. Remind them that they have the power to change a life.

But do NOT remind them that “times are tough” … or that “people are losing their jobs” … or that “it’s a difficult time to donate.” This will not serve your mission.

Even if you tend to be a pessimist, you will better serve your cause if you exude optimism. If you can’t speak optimistically … and your Executive Director can’t … and your Development Director can’t … and your Auction Chair can’t … than don’t let anyone speak, except the auctioneer. Don’t sabotage your auction before the auctioneer has a chance to work her magic.