10-12 MONTHS

  • Pick a date and venue. Some venues are booked 2 years out! Also start thinking about possible themes for your event, and revenue enhancers you may want to include at your event.
  • Hire a professional fundraising auctioneer. Get to know them to make sure they are the right fit for your event.
  • Select an auction chairperson. This person will be able to answer questions and most importantly make decisions throughout the planning process
  • Establish a budget. Make sure it is reasonable and your spending is in line with what your group and guests can afford.
  • Pick committee members. People who will get things done, under your direction. They should understand the mission, and understand the point of the fundraiser.
  • Establish fundraising goals. Set your goals at the high end of what’s achievable and make sure they’re in line with what your group and guests will be willing to donate and the items you have.
  • Think about an admission price to your event. Remember it is a fundraiser, so set the price at a point to where the seats will be filled by donors willing to spend money. Selling out is a good problem to have – unless the price was too low.
  • Develop a marketing plan. How are you going to get the right people in the seats? You also need to explore your donor base to see who in the past has spent money at your event.
  • Procure, procure, procure.


  • Establish committees. Often times it is best to have one or two people in charge, who are able to make decisions. But those leaders need to have support. Fill committees with people who have personal strengths in the roles they are assigned. Auction committees include: Procurement, Event Logistics, Marketing, Sponsorship, and Audience Development. You may even have a committee team that covers Dessert Dash and Raise The Paddle separately.
  • Conduct a Procurement Rally. Time to start procuring items for your auction.  Remember, it is about “mindful procurement” and getting the right items for you guests.
  • Finalize your theme, logo, website, and marketing plan.  Think about how you are going to get the right people at your event. Go through your invitation list. See who was at your event last year, and who you need to get back at your event this year.
  • Develop save-the-date cards and email messages, and work on how you will promote your event.
  • Make sure you have some sort of auction software, or a way to keep track of all the items you are collecting for your event. Auction software can also help you keep track of your invitation list.
  • You need items, and you need guests, but you also need sponsorships and underwriting.
  • Make sure you have hired a professional audio/visual company. A company that will do a walk-through and give you just what you need to make your event heard by everyone in the room.
  • Look into hiring a DJ for your event. Not for dancing, but to add music to your live auction. You can secure a photographer/photo booth.

PROCUREMENT – If you are interested in procurement ideas and hearing about the best selling auction items, call or email us.  We also have a wide variety of trips available with various companies. CLICK HERE FOR VACATION PACKAGES

FEELING OVERWHELMED?  Hire a night-of manager. Our night-of manager can train your volunteers, oversee the check-in and check-out process and data entry. The job of the night-of manager is to make sure the night runs smoothly.


  • Time for everyone on the committee to know their role, and for committee leaders to start developing plans and assigning tasks.
  • Save-The-Date cards  and emails should be sent out, and invitations should be in the design stage.
  • Review marketing plan on how you are going to get the right people at your event. If you haven’t already, develop a website specifically dedicated to your fundraising event.
  • In addition to a website start promoting your event through social media. You can even create a hashtag specifically for  your fundraising event.
  • Go through your current procurement and discuss with your auctioneer what is needed to round out your auction. Pick items specifically designed for your crowd. Be sure to set a procurement deadline.
  • IMPORTANT: Begin brainstorming your Special Appeal / Paddle Raise. Are you doing a video?  Are you having a speaker?  Work with your auctioneer to determine how they will achieve your goal.  A specific goal, need, or mission will get bigger returns in your Special Appeal / Paddle Raise.
  • All the logistics (sound/lighting, catering, venue, auctioneer, software, etc.) of your event should be worked out, it is now down to the details.


  • Procurement continues – Live, Silent, Raffle, Wine, etc. Finalize sponsors.
  • Solidify the focus of your Special Appeal. Is the video done?  Who is speaking?  What is the focus going to be?  Strategize on how you are going to get to your goal. 
  • Set goals for each level of your Special Appeal, and start securing pre-donations. Event volunteers, and people who can’t attend are great resources to make extra money for your Special Appeal that can be announced during your event.
  • Are you ready regarding: registration, cashiering, and all aspects of check-in and check-out?
  • Formulate a timeline with your auctioneer. The timeline should include all aspects from set-up to tear down.  It should include volunteer schedules, where the items are stored, and of course a night-of schedule.
  • Have you figured out your decoration plan? And your centerpieces?

NEED AN EMCEE?  We have professional emcees and item readers available for your auction.  The emcee role is key to a successful event. 

THEME IDEAS. Read about some great theme ideas for your event here: EVENT THEMES

SOUND SYSTEM. Sound is essential for a successful auction, click here for our preferred sound and lighting vendor that specializes in auctions: SOUND AND SIGHT

STRATEGIC RAISE THE PADDLE PLAN. Meet with your auctioneer to discuss a strategy for raising more money on your Special Appeal or Paddle Raise.


  • Advertise any special auction items and your Special Appeal on your event website, through social media, and other marketing platforms.
  • Develop a plan for displaying silent auction items, and desserts, if you are doing a Dessert Dash.
  • Start firming up event timeline, establishing and laying out the catalog (never put the value of items in your catelog).
  • Finalize sponsorships for your event.
  • Continue securing pre-donations for your Special Appeal.
  • Work with your auctioneer to set the order of live auction items. Also check with the auctioneer regarding auction packages and revenue enhancers.
  • Set the volunteers for the evening. who they are, and what their jobs will be. Have a volunteer rally to explain their roles.
  • Finalize plans for check-in and check-out services. How will you be processing payments? Will guests be taking their items home that day?
  • Finalize your event menu, and drink plan. Have you checked in with all your vendors?
  • Encourage attendance!


  • The final push to get people registered for your event. Continue with your marketing plan. Highlight special auction items and what you are raising money for in your Special Appeal in email correspondence and Social Media.
  • Finalize the silent auction and live auction items. Use thoughtful discussions to pick which items will be best for your audience.  Work with your auctioneer to set the order of live auction items.
  • Have a meeting with the emcee or item reader and auctioneer. The event will be more successful if they have a good working relationship.  Discuss timelines, guest information, and name pronunciations.  Also educate them on your organization, and why we are raising money.
  • Finalize the catalog, and get it printed. Before printing, make sure your auctioneer has helped you with item order, timelines, etc. Remember, don’t print the value of your live items in the catalog. 
  • What other things need to be printed? Name tags, table numbers, bid sheets, silent auction descriptions, signage, tally sheets, and invoices.
  • Prepare or order bid cards/numbers.
  • Begin preparing your registration packets.
  • Create a power-point presentation for your live auction items.
  • Finalize all aspects of the Special Appeal / Paddle Raise. Develop a strategic plan with your auctioneer to maximize the donations in the room on event night.
  • Are the volunteers trained on their jobs at your event? This is crucial as the volunteers are representing your organization at this event, and they need to be educated on what their role is.
  • Make display boards for silent auction items, and revenue enhancers
  • Assign guests to tables, and assign bid numbers to guests. Also, get bidder packets ready for the night of your event.

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