Know Your Audience

Know Your Audience

One of the most common questions I get asked when working with auction committees is what items should be included to raise maximum funds for the organization. The answer? It depends on your audience. A luxury golf package may be worth thousands of dollars, but it will only sell well in your auction if you have golfers in the audience.

Let me share two recent examples I encountered. I’ve had many donors at larger events tell me that when they bid on travel lots, the inclusion of airfare does not add value. Many donors feel that donated airfare comes with too many blackout dates and other restrictions or they already have their own miles and preferred airlines. But in conversation with a new organization with a smaller event, the feedback was completely different. For their event, donors only wanted to buy travel packages that had airfare included.

At one of my spring events, we received a donation for tickets to a local tourist attraction. I felt that they should be paired with another donated item in order to flush out a more attractive package for the auction, but none of the other donated items matched up well. The committee and I decided to simply include the tickets as a stand-alone item in the silent auction. When reviewing bids after the event, it turned out that those tickets were one of the most popular lots in the silent auction.

Knowing your audience is one of the most important components to your auction strategy. There’s no perfect, one size fits all auction lot. Nothing has universal appeal. What matters most is knowing how to engage your specific audience. And that starts with knowing who they are.

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