Running a successful Fund-A-Need or Raise-the-Paddle is about being ready, having a great auctioneer who can work with an audience, and setting a plan so details aren’t missed. In my experience through the years I have seen some very successful fund-a-need appeals.
To be clear, I’m not a fan of trying to make your fund-a-need run on guest’s phones. I manage a mobile bidding company so that may seem like a contradiction. However, there is a very important difference between the benefits of mobile bidding versus the benefits of donor recognition during a live auction and fund-a-need. Fund-a-need is a chance for donors to be recognized among their peers. Raising a paddle has been a great way to do this tastefully. In addition, an auctioneer can “feel” how the room is engaging and make on-the-spot decisions that greatly affect the outcome. This combination has yielded the most successful fund-a-need events that I have seen.
Knowing this information, how do you properly plan for it? Paddle raises happen quickly and are very fluid. You will want to be ready for fast data entry so you don’t miss a donation. Here’s my checklist for being ready.
- Identify roles. In my experience, things can get a little disorganized after check-in. Volunteers drift around the venue and when they show up they aren’t clear what they are doing. With a fund-a-need, you want to make sure your team knows their jobs. You will need at least 2 “spotters” who will write down paddle numbers as they are called by the auctioneer. Two spotters provide redundancy so that if one gets behind, the other will have their back. Tip: make sure to record the auctioneer so you can go back and verify if needed. I would dedicate a full piece of paper per denomination so you don’t have to fit numbers in a small area. You will also need a volunteer to consolidate the lists into an accurate accounting. This list can be used to request payments or be added to checkout totals for guests.
- Practice. There’s nothing like a dry run. Here’s what I suggest. Write 25 random bidder numbers on a sheet of paper. Get two “spotters” to sit down with empty paper. Have them write as you read the number in a sequence. Then, compare those sheets to see how they did. Your auctioneer will know that they need to speak clearly and slow enough to write down numbers but they will still move at a good clip. This exercise will give your volunteers a taste of what’s required during the fund-a-need.
- Be ready early. This might be the most important point. After practicing, your volunteers should know what they are in for. They should also know how difficult it will be if they aren’t ready in time. The auctioneer will be in full energizer mode so don’t be caught off guard. Have your spotters seated with paper and pen and a good writing surface about 5 minutes early. The numbers they write down will be critical to getting the right donations from the right guests. Then, make sure your spotters know exactly where to go immediately after the fund-a-need. The volunteer that consolidates the two spotters will need time so impress on your spotters to hand off their sheets immediately after the auctioneer is complete.
- Give yourself time after the fund-a-need. Your spotters should know that they are to immediately drop their sheets to the consolidation volunteer after the auctioneer is complete. From there, the two sheets are combined for a single accounting of the donations. It’s important to consider the time this will take. In some cases, I have been at events where the fund-a-need is the very last item on the agenda. This creates a challenge for the organization to get the donations ready in time for checkout. It’s ideal if your guests can pay the same night because it’s fresh on their minds. Consider adding one or two more elements to your event after the fund-a-need. This will allow your volunteers enough time to prepare for checkout. Then, your guests will be able to pay and complete their giving process.
Hopefully these tips can assist you in running a great fund-a-need. ClickBid offers a low cost solution to fund-a-need events. We provide tools to speed up the consolidation process and screens to motivate giving. To learn more, send us an email.
We can recommend several great auctioneers to help you raise more money.