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San Francisco charity auctioneers and fundraising consultants » Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you charge a set fee, or do you charge a percentage?
We charge a set fee plus travel. Meals are at our own expense. Our belief is that charging a percentage causes serious ethical problems in the not-for-profit world.
Do you require a deposit?
No. Fees and expenses are due upon receipt of an invoice after the auction. However, if a planning meeting is needed prior to the event and travel is required, we invoice for those travel expenses after the meeting.
How do we engage your services?
We send a simple, one-page Letter of Agreement. You sign it, we sign it, and that’s it.
How early do we need to book an auctioneer?
As early as possible, preferably no later than four to six months in advance. We have found that we are most effective when we have an opportunity to consult with you and your team.
Our event date is already booked on your calendar, is there anything we can do to get that date?
No. We offer our existing clients first right of refusal to re-book us for their event the following year, provided it is on the same date. The vast majority of our clients re-hire us every year.
Why do you include a clause in your Letter of Agreement about sound systems?
A professional sound system (with skilled sound technicians on site) is mandatory for a successful fundraising auction. Poor sound will cost you significant dollars and create ill will. For our clients, we speak with your audio company (or those you are considering) to make certain they understand the unique demands of a fundraising auction and have the professional expertise and equipment to meet those demands.
What do you need on stage?
All we need are a small table and a number of bottles of room temperature water. We do not need a podium.
What are your thoughts about purchasing pre-packaged auction lots from companies specializing in such items?
Creating a successful fundraising auction is the result of building many relationships and having both donors and bidders understand and support your charitable work. Purchasing packages eliminates this important bond and thus undermines this overall process. In many cases, these items are not unique and are easily available on the open market for comparable costs.
Should a charity ever purchase anything for their auction?
Yes. For example, if a trip would be greatly enhanced by a night or two at a hotel and you are unable to secure a donation, purchasing the hotel portion will add to the overall value and is worth it.
What do you think about consignment donations?
Not a good idea.
I want to throw a great party, but we need to make money. Can I do both?
A gala and a fundraising auction are two different events. A gala is a party to raise money for a cause. A fundraising auction is an evening where the party is secondary to the auction efforts. Our skill is making the auction so entertaining that everyone leaves feeling they had a great time for a great cause.
What is a “fund-a-need”?
The fund-a-need started in Seattle, Washington and David Reynolds helped it propagate throughout the rest of the country. It is, most simply, a call for cash. We will guide you on how best to implement it at your event.
Should we start the live auction after dessert is served?
NO! You will most certainly lose your audience and thus lose money. At a fundraising auction, everyone knows why he or she is in the room. After some social time during the first course, it is time to get on with the auction and conduct it over dinner. Our auctioneers are skilled at working on stage with waiters clearing tables and in the general chaos of the auction room. Your attendees will thank you for efficient use of their time, and you will raise more money in your auction.
Where are you willing to travel for an event?
We work all over the United States, from New York to Alaska.
That’s a great vest, where can I get one?
Thank you very much, I have them custom-made. You can get great fabric at many stores in the Bay Area, and then you just need a good tailor.
Do you help bring in auction lots?

We will look over your list of auction lots and make recommendations on ways to strengthen your auction, including additions or contacts we think would be relevant. But we do not solicit lots for you, for two reasons

1. A successful event is built on relationships that are owned by you. Building those relationships is important for the event, and for your organization.

2. If we pulled all of our strings for every event we would quickly find ourselves out of strings, with no-one returning our calls.

Why do you charge for your services rather than donate your time?
We are the very best at what we do because are able to focus on our craft 100%. If we donated our services, or made this our “hobby,” we would not be able to provide the level of excellence that sets us apart and helps you raise more money.
Why hire a fundraising auctioneer?
 A fundraising auction is unlike any other auction environment and offers a number of unique challenges. As professional fundraising auctioneers, we understand this environment better than any volunteer, celebrity or other type of auctioneer.