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January 22, 2013 - In This Issue:
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3 Ways to Improve the Flow of Large Silent Auction Items
by Joe Garecht, published on The Fundraising Authority Website

Even the best silent auction events can prove to be a logistical nightmare.  Between bidsheets, registration, checkout and keeping track of items, there's a lot that can go wrong.

I've worked with a number of organizations successfully running large silent auctions (50-250 items) and today want to provide some very practical advice on how you can improve the flow of your next auction event.


1. Use Sections and Close Them One or Two at a Time

One of the best things you can do to improve both the auction experience for your bidders is to break your items up into categories and place each category into its own section.  You may have bidders who are interested in sports tickets but not restaurant gift cards, or people who want to bid on gift baskets but not jewelry.  If someone knows what they are looking for at a large auction but has trouble finding it, they may give up and instead focus on the food stations and the bar.


My suggestion is to break up your auction items into anywhere from 4-10 categories and place these items together at the event with signage indicating what each section is.  That way, when someone comes into your large silent auction, they can glance around and see signs that say, "Jewelry and Gift Baskets," "Restaurants and Nightlife," "Sports Tickets and Memorabilia," and "Gift Baskets," or whatever

categories make sense for your event.


To improve your check out flow, close your sections one or two at a time, depending on how many classifications you are using.  For example, if your event ends at 9 PM, you can close the first section at 8:20, and then close another section every 10 minutes until the event ends.


This helps break up the checkout process and stretch it out over time.  It also allows you to up your bids by announcing a last call for each section prior to its closing, which will allow people to make one last effort to win items without worrying about hitting up every section at the same time.


2. Segregate Your Checkout

Long checkout lines are the bane of large silent auctions everywhere.  No one wants to wait in a line 40 people deep to pay for the $50 gift card they won.  The best way to combat this problem is to segregate your checkout lines.  Here's how I do it:


First, you have a payment table with multiple people processing credit cards and taking cash and checks.  When someone pays for an item, they get a receipt listing the item numbers they won (preprint a stack of these that your payment volunteers can simply fill out and hand to the winners after payment).

Then, rather than having people wait at the payment table while you search for their gift certificates or fetch the items they won, you send the winners over to the items table.  They hand in their receipt and your volunteers give them their gift card or gift certificates, or your runners go and collect the items they have won.


Segregating your checkout in this way works because you have lots of volunteers working at your checkout tables, and they only have to worry about one thing - either processing payments or handing out items.  Things move smoother and faster, and that results in happier bidders.


3. Overdo it with Signage

I have found that when it comes to silent auctions, the more signage the better.  Good, clear signage keeps people moving and makes the registration, bidding, and check out process move much more smoothly.

The signs I like to use at my large auctions include:

  • Registration - Signs showing where to register / check-in
  • How it Works - One or two large signs explaining how the silent auction process works
  • Categories - As explained above, signs showing where various auction categories can be found
  • Checkout - I like to use lots of signs at checkout, including signs that show where checkout is located, where payments are accepted, where items can be picked up and what type of payments can be accepted
  • Restrooms and Coat Check - When necessary to enable visitors to find the bathrooms and coat check room


Make your signs large, bold and clear.  Have them printed up at FedEx Office or another quick print shop, put on a foam board backing and use easels to display them around your event venue.

Using these three strategies, you can keep your silent auction events running smoothly without exhausting or confusing your staff, volunteers or guests.


Announcing a new website!
Tim Crum_      The idea for a fundraising company to help animal groups ran through my mind many times in the early 2000's.  As much as I knew it was something that the industry needed, I just could not get past this self-imposed "starting a business is a Herculean task requiring a lot of money"-mindset.  So I simply let the thought run through my mind and never did anything about it.   But in 2008, after working under a completely dysfunctional board, I knew it was time to make an impact and so I started my own fundraising company.   I've learned a lot over these past few years and I am proud of the fact that each year has surpassed the previous year.  2012 was the best year so far for Animal Shelter Fundraising.  In fact, the demand for our services grew so much last year that I knew the company's basic website, which had served its purpose, was no longer an accurate reflection of who we are as a company. 
I am now very pleased to introduce to you the ALL NEW & IMPROVED Animal Shelter Fundraising website.  I hope you will take a moment to browse around and check out our new look.
Thanks so much for being with me and the company on this wonderful journey.  If there is anything I can do for your group, please call me direct at 623.975.1234.
Our Special February Offer to You
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When you hire Animal Shelter Fundraising to do your fundraising feasibility study, we'll donate two iPad-minis to your organization!


Contract must be signed by February 28, 2013, although the study does not have to be scheduled until before December 31, 2013. 

Not valid with any other otffers.




ipad mini  ipad mini


Contact Tim Crum to discuss your organization's need for a fundraising feasibility study. 


Want to start the off on the right foot with your donors?  Take the time to show your gratitude and to differentiate yourself in a way that advances your mission and deepens your relationships with donors. Remember: having a memorable thank you is the first step in retaining more donors.


Try these three ways to wow your donors with your next thank you letter.

Show the impact.

Don't lead with, "Thank you for your gift of $25 on December 5."  Lead with something that captures the true story of the impact. Lead with the success they are helping to achieve. That's what the donor wants. They don't want to know that you deposited $25 in your bank account on December 5. They want to know you are spending that $25 to make a difference in the world.

Open the door.

Share with your donors the other ways they can be involved with your cause. Invite them to an open house or participate in other programs. Educate them on what they can do in their own life to help your cause and if you have volunteer opportunities, let them know how to join in. Think of the different ways people can learn more about your organization and get even more involved in making a difference.

Set expectations.

Let donors know when they will hear from you again. If you add them to your mailing list, make sure you have an interesting and inspiring newsletter. Don't just start slamming people with a bunch of boring information and ask them for money all the time. Create a newsletter that that continues to engage people's spirit and report back on the results they helped make possible. Plan ongoing updates that will let donors know about all the great stuff that they're making possible.

by Caryn Stein appearing on the Network for Good website


Is your board struggling with its duties and responsibilities?


Does your organization have a difficult time attracting and retaining board members?


Are your board meetings excessively long and seem to accomplish little?


Do board members overstep their boundaries?


If you answered YES to any one of these questions, then your board could benefit by attending our professional training and development course.


Animal Shelter Fundraising will be offering a two-day board training and development on April 19-20 that is ideal for board members and executive directors here on our campus in Surprise, AZ.   This comprehensive and in-depth training will focus on your non-profit board's legal and ethical duties and responsibilities and will even cover all the policies and procedures that will have your board on the path to success.  The two-day session includes a workbook and flashdrive with dozens of documents from  handbook to policies to orientation.


Registration opens in February and will be announced in our next newsletter!

Looking for a motivational speaker for your next conference
Want a dynamic and engaging speaker to train your staff and board? 
Tim Crum speaks at a national conferenceTIM CRUM is the answer.

Tim is regularly called upon to speak at national and regional conferences.  In addition, he is the founder and lead presenter for the School of Fundraising, speaking and training thousands of professionals every year.

Audiences value Tim's knowledge and experience while taking delight in his enthusiasm and quick wit.




We encourage you to patronize the following industry leading companies...

Mason Company has earned the reputation for providing the finest animal enclosures on the market. They use only the highest grade raw materials and, unlike some of their competitors, they manufacture everything in the U.S. rather than overseas. 


The Mason Company has sold and installed more kennel systems than anyone else in the world. No matter what your unique needs, chances are the Mason Company has built it before.

Kuranda USA, based in Maryland, makes and sells dog beds.
GIVE the gift of COMFORT to a homeless pet.    

Day in and day out thousands of shelter dogs languish on cold, hard concrete floors, while cats seek a soft place to rest in their cages. But you can make a world of difference in a homeless pet's life by donating a Kuranda bed to the shelter of your choosing.

Special 28% donation discount. Beds ship directly to the shelter.