top of page

To Bid or Not to Bid? Live Auctions vs. Direct Appeals

When it comes to fundraising at events, the choice between live auctions and donation appeals often leaves organizers wondering which option will lead to greater success. Let's delve into the unique virtues of each method, shedding light on their distinctive qualities and how they can coexist harmoniously to elevate the fundraising experience.

To Bid: The Thrill of Auctions

A live auction, essentially a marketing method, hinges on the organization's ability to procure extraordinary and exclusive auction items. These sought-after lots become the focal point of a competitive atmosphere where guests vie for ownership while under the influence of Pinot Grigio. The success of a live auction is contingent on a relatively small percentage of attendees taking the initiative to bid.

While the allure of live auctions lies in the excitement of bidding wars and the acquisition of unique and incredible items, it's crucial to acknowledge the inherent limitations. The success of this method heavily relies on the availability and desirability of auction lots, creating a somewhat unpredictable dynamic. If there are 500 people at your event, perhaps 5-9 of them are winners.

Not to Bid: An Appeal to Collective Philanthropy

In stark contrast, a live appeal is a direct pledge moment, unbounded by the need for exclusive items. This approach seeks to engage every person in the room, presenting a philanthropic call to actively participate in making a difference through direct donations. All 500 guest can participate! The appeal aims to foster a sense of collective responsibility, urging everyone to contribute according to their capacity, and factors in a friendly dose of peer pressure.

The appeal transforms your event into a theatre of giving, where the power lies in storytelling to foster an emotional connection to the cause. It's a mission based moment driven to communicate the impact of a gift. Crying is acceptable. Unlike auctions, appeals present an egalitarian opportunity for all attendees to play a role in supporting your programs and services, creating a shared experience of philanthropy.

Compare and Despair: Harmony in Diversity

Attempting to compare live auctions and donation appeals can be challenging, as each method brings its own set of virtues to the fundraising landscape. Revenue alone can be a good indicator for which of the two to prioritize in your program. While a live auction is akin to pure play, and harnesses the capacity of high net worth individuals, an appeal can transform the event into a dramatically effective stage for widespread generosity. The former is fun, the latter more meaningful.

Instead of pitting one against the other, recognizing the complementary nature of live auctions and donation appeals is paramount. The thrill of bidding can coexist harmoniously with the egalitarian appeal for collective giving. It's not a matter of one being better than the other; rather, it's about understanding how they can work together seamlessly to maximize fundraising potential.

The Bottom Line: Maximizing Revenue Through Harmony

While live auctions offer a thrilling experience for a select audience, the potential for revenue in the pledge moment is significantly greater. Everyone can participate! The appeal's ability to engage a broader audience, coupled with its mission based pathos, presents a powerful opportunity for fundraising success. Considering the substantial effort and energy required for planning a successful live auction, finding a balance that integrates both methods may be the key to unlocking the full potential at your next event.

Ultimately, the goal is clear: to raise as much money as possible for your organization, no matter the chosen method or a harmonious blend of both.


bottom of page