Begin with defining the purpose of your event. Then, review prior year’s historical data and previous survey’s/feedback. Next, identify chair person(s) and committee leaders. With your core team, determine attendance/revenue goals and plan how you will track data/resources. Hire FSA Auctions to partner with you along the way to provide experience, guidance and resources. Hire catering, consider a venue that builds into their contract catering or select a catering group that has experience with fundraising events. Hire professional audio-visual, this is key. Consider hiring an event planner who specializes in fundraising events. Select your venue and event date. FSA books highly desirable dates 10 to 12 months in advance.
FSA Pro Tip: Consider putting a save the date on your website at this point with photos and event recap video from last year’s event.
Look For: FSA will send a New Partner Questionnaire and then a Pre-Fundraiser Report
Ask For: Email FSA for a Venue Checklist to help with questions to ask and things to consider freddie@FSAauctions.com
6+ Months from Event Date
When partnering with FSA, we put lots of focus on donor stewardship strategies year-round. We would encourage if you don’t have a touch points checklist in place for the year, now is a good time to start. Craft a marketing strategy/timeline and begin to storyboard how all your communication will look moving forward (theme, branding, logos, hashtags, social tags, etc). Select benefit auction software that you will streamline ticket sales, registration, silent auction bidding, donations and check out through. Establish deadlines for sponsorships and lot procurement. Send save the dates. Create event online presence and begin placing sponsor logos here. Secure a Master of Ceremonies and Photographer. Brainstorm live auction lots with FSA and determine your Paddle Raise beneficiary. Finally, be aware of printed materials to come as the date gets closer so have templates in place to copy/paste or plug in photos/logos etc. into a program, slideshow and foam boards.
FSA Pro Tip: Consider the importance of your registration link. Many times, guests will enter their credit card here to purchase a ticket (unless selling tables and/or sponsors). Consider options to add on $50 or $100 to pre-purchase a Golden Ticket (or other revenue enhancer, consult FSA).
Look For: FSA will send a Sponsorships Toolkit
Ask For: FSA Live Auction Ideas that are creative and trending in 2022-2023
3 Months from Event Date
Review donor engagement strategies and create opportunities to expand your Paddle Raise. Design an event floor plan (most venues can provide). Begin to create a logistics timeline for day-of-event. Begin to draft a run of show for event program. Secure program speakers and/or film videos. Schedule radio interviews, television segments, advertise in magazines and prepare press releases. Decide on a volunteer appreciation element for after the event. Finally, begin to plan your registration and check out procedures for payment processing and item distribution.
FSA Pro Tip: Consider 30 second selfie videos from influential folks to create excitement for event!
Look For: FSA will send Bio and Headshot for program, slideshow and marketing.
Ask For: FSA Post Event Tips including guest surveys, planning to capture data for Sponsors ROI and more.
1+ Month from Event Date
Finalize check in/out procedures and promote event. Finalize live auction lots and gather descriptions, restrictions, values and photos for program, slideshow, foam boards, emails and social media distribution campaigns. Prepare Paddle Raise strategies. Prepare talking points for Master of Ceremonies and FSA Auctions. Recruit volunteers for setup, check in/out, recorders, bid assistants, takedown and more. FSA Auctions provides training for some of these roles and FSA also provides staffing. Complete procurement & inputting items into software. Inventory auction items and create auction certificates. Conduct a final venue walk-through and test WIFI capabilities (consider a “green room” a place for volunteers to put there stuff and eat). Create display boards for: live/silent auction items, fundraising game, directional arrows, etc. Create program, inserts, slides presentation (include: sponsors, thank you’s, fund-a-need slides, live auction slides, etc). Schedule a mandatory program rehearsal (as needed).
FSA Pro Tip: Many times audio is secured for the main “ballroom” however some times there is no audio outside where the cocktail reception is prior to having guests enter to the main location for dinner. Prepare accordingly. Highly recommend large foam boards with photos on easels to communicate directions and purchasing opportunities to guests as they are walking around.
Look For: FSA will provide live auction lot sequencing for optimal revenue generation.
Ask For: FSA revenue enhancing opportunities that can generate an incremental $10,000+ at event.
2+ Weeks from Event Date
Finalize Run-of-Show elements for program. Double check certificates & put in chronological order by package number for check out team. Finalize the date for next year’s event & prepare to promote it at event. Send out Run-of-Show & Day-of Script to volunteers, catering manager & audio-visual team. Organize all auction items & display boards for transport to venue. Give caterer & venue a final guest count for meals. Test all payment transaction equipment & train check out team (as needed). Assign guests to tables & bidder numbers. Establish a way to collect attendee updates and contact info. Ensure all live & silent auction items are entered into auction software. Plan to print all materials including: programs, bid sheets, three digit bid numbers, foam boards and more. Also print, package list for verification of all packages (match silent auction package with bid sheet). Prepare extra programs & bid cards for last minute “walk-ins.” Prepare all auction items to have their item number assigned & attached for processing.
FSA Pro Tip: Consider table centerpieces that speak to the mission of your organization. FSA can provide examples. This will be a reminder in front of guests all night long and a table conversation starter about your mission before we begin the live fundraising. Also, bid numbers should begin at 101 & increase consecutively. Bid cards that are white with big bold black numbers that are a minimum of 5×7 tend to work best (be mindful of size of room, total guests and lighting).
Look For: FSA will send an email requesting key information needed for us to formulate our script.
Ask For: FSA Fundraising Recording Bid Sheets for Paddle Raise, Live Auction and Revenue Enhancers. FSA can also provide helpful information for your silent auction recording sheets that can generate thousands more there too!
Day of Event
Distribute timeline, script and Run-of-Show to appropriate team members (prepare extra copies for catering & audio-visual teams). Prepare technology & check it twice including payment processing systems. Test & verify lighting settings and sound levels. Sound & lighting check (have extra batteries for microphones and fill all with new batteries). Conduct a program dress rehearsal at the event venue. Hold an “all-hands” meeting with volunteers & staff to review roles and energize them. Answer any last-minute questions and most important “thank them!”
FSA Pro Tip: As auction chair, ED, DD or CEO, FSA suggests you relax & mingle with donors. At every event, challenges are bound to happen but with proper planning most won’t even know they did!
Day After Event
Send thank you email to all guests. Submit all payments and reconcile (as needed). Provide acknowledgements for volunteers (thank-you cards or volunteer party). Review systems and organize for next year’s event.
FSA Pro Tip: Sending out a 3 to 5 question guest survey with the opportunity to win a prize if drawn can be highly beneficial for next year’s event.
Look For: FSA will want to schedule time to debrief to review event typically within 3 weeks after event date.
Ask For: Sponsors ROI and Volunteer Appreciation ideas.
Important Note: FSA Auctions books dates up very quickly, especially Friday and Saturday evenings (typically 10 months in advance). Be sure to secure your date with FSA.