It’s a professional fundraiser’s greatest nightmare. You’re standing in front of a group of 200 people at your fundraising auction and no one is bidding on anything. This actually happened to me. If we had held the auction at a funeral, it would have been livelier and just as productive.
What could be worse than planning an outdoor gala in Florida with its unpredictable afternoon rains, swarming mosquitos and humidity heavy enough to melt coifs in seconds? “Our auctioneer is drunk,” my assistant said.
Orlando-based Wade and Barbara West are co-owners of the American Fundraising Association, a nonprofit organization specializing in fundraising auctions. I sat down with the Wests, former television news anchors who have more than 1,800 fundraising auctions under their belt, to hear their thoughts about common mistakes made at fundraising auctions.