Charity Auction Timeline & Planner

Charity Auction Timeline & Planner

We have created this awesome Charity Auction Timeline & Planner to help make your fundraising auction a success. This timeline is designed for online to live format auctions, but can be tailored to meet any organization’s needs. The most important thing is to start early and remember to build on your organization’s relationships with businesses and the community at large. Done right, your charity auction can be a big fundraising success!

Charity Auction Timeline: First Steps

  1. Appoint an Auction Chair & key volunteers/staff/Board members who will serve on the auction steering committee. The more dedicated committee members you can find at this stage of your event, the more successful your auction will be.
  2. Review previous years’ event history and resources, if available. Be sure to learn from the lessons of the past.
  3. Set your auction objectives.
  4. Start an auction file where you will store all relevant data for your event, for reference in the future. Be sure the steering committee members know to save all important documentation and resources for the future.

9 to 12 Months Prior to the Auction

  1. Decide on your auction timeline – including the online auction start date, length of the online auction, and live auction event date.
  2. Begin searching for an appropriate event venue for live events. Consider event capacity, location, costs, insurance, parking, and catering options.
  3. Make a list of potential corporate & community sponsors, and assign a committee member to follow-up with each.
  4. Ask your organization’s Board of Directors to seek corporate sponsors & potential items for donation.
  5. Begin the auction procurement process – contact potential donors such as hotels, restaurants, and local merchants. (Use our auction donor template letter)
  6. Create sponsorship packages & sponsor recruitment materials. Be sure to emphasize to the sponsor the visibility they will receive by being a part of your auction event.
  7. Create a preliminary event budget with realistic goals for your event. Include sponsorship sales, event registrations (determine what you will charge), and auction goals.

5 to 8 Months Prior to the Auction

  1. Your venue should be secured. Complete paperwork, as necessary.
  2. Begin looking for a catering service, if needed.
  3. Build your organization’s auction website and determine registration payment methods.
  4. Create & print promotional materials such as fliers and formal event invitations.
  5. Mail Save the Date postcards and/or advertise directly to your donors & constituents, via your website, newsletters, etc.
  6. Begin the process to advertise your event as widely as possible – possible channels include TV, radio, newspapers, on-line calendars & community websites, fliers, and more. Consider engaging an advertising/ PR firm to help, if your budget allows.
  7. Secure tables, chairs, linens, sound systems, decorations, and any other rentals for your live event.
  8. Place holds on luxury travel packages.
  9. Determine the logistics of your live event – auctioneer, emcee, entertainment, sound, celebrity host, volunteers, etc. Sign contracts, as needed.
  10. Recruit a local celebrity host for your event, if possible.
  11. Continue work to secure auction sponsorships.
  12. Launch your fundraising auction website. GET STARTED HERE.

3 to 4 Months Prior to the Auction

  1. Begin taking online registrations & auction bids on your auction website.
  2. Prepare your event menu with your catering company – be sure to provide for vegetarian and other special request meals for your guests.
  3. Escalate your auction procurement – all donations should be secured in this period. Purchase any remaining items needed or place holds on No Risk Auction Items.
  4. Mail personal invitations to your donors & constituents.
  5. Select and order awards, if you will be honoring constituents/Board members/staff at your event.
  6. Begin taking online volunteer registrations on your auction website. You may need volunteers for event registration, greeters, parking assistance/valet parking, auction runners, auction check-out, decoration & set-up, and event clean up.
  7. Continue with advertising & event PR campaign.
  8. Determine all technical details for your live event check-out process. If you will require auction payment terminals to process final bids at the event, reserve them with your merchant services provider.

1 to 2 Months Prior to the Auction

  1. Prepare the event program & timeline.
  2. Find clients or presenters to talk about their experience with your organization and how it has impacted them positively. This could be done with a PowerPoint or slide show for maximum impact.
  3. Assign your auction items to live and silent auction categories, create a schedule for the live auction items.
  4. Host a volunteer training session, so that your event day volunteers know what to expect. If possible, host the meeting at your event venue and provide a tour to your volunteers.
  5. Finalize volunteer schedules & responsibilities.
  6. Finalize and print the auction catalog and event program.
  7. Continue with advertising & event PR campaign.
  8. Order or create your bid paddles.

1 to 2 Weeks Prior to the Auction

  1. Confirm final guest count and special meal requests with your catering company.
  2. Prepare catalog and product information for your auctioneer.
  3. Finalize all technical details for online access, payments at the event, etc.
  4. Organize all auction items, putting together packages, baskets, and displays for your live event.
  5. Finish all administrative registrations in your auction website & assign individual guests to open tables.
  6. Meet with emcee and/or presenters to review the event timeline & program. Prepare a script for each presenter.

48 Hours Prior to the Auction

  1. Close your online auction bidding.
  2. Print bid sheets for your live event, these will include the highest online bid, item number, etc. Separate the bid sheets for your silent & live auctions.
  3. Deliver your auction items, decorations, signs, goody bags, and any other event materials to the venue.
  4. If the venue is available, set up decorations, tables, podium, sound system, etc. for your event early.
  5. Finish all administrative registrations in your auction website & assign individual guests to open tables.
  6. Assign bid numbers to all registered guests who have not registered to bid on-line.
  7. Assign bid paddles for each participant for easy check-out.
  8. Print your registration report & any other reports that you would like to take to the event.

Show Time!

  1. Arrive early for registration & auction set-up. Bring reports, payment terminals & any remaining items to the event venue.
  2. Hang instructional signs for registration, parking, auction check-out, restrooms, etc.
  3. Be sure volunteers are in place early & trained for each position. Assign greeters to welcome guests.
  4. Recognize and thank your event sponsors.

Immediately Following the Auction

  1. Organize an auction wrap up meeting with the entire auction committee to critique the event and update your auction files with suggestions for next year’s event. This should be done within a week to 10 days of the event so that everything is fresh in the committee’s minds.
  2. Purchase DoJiggy auction items for delivery direct to winning bidders.
  3. Complete all financials – determine actual monies raised, make final payments on any open invoices, etc.
  4. Send thank-you notes to all event sponsors & volunteers, detailing the amount raised for your organization.
  5. Update your auction website with event pictures, thank yous, and special moments from your live auction.