When Your Auction Doesn’t Go As Planned
During my first personal training session of the New Year, I had some pretty high hopes for myself. 2011 was a pretty good year for me fitness-wise as far I as could tell: I ran my second half marathon and made many improvements in my endurance and strength training. Or so I thought. At the end of that first session, my trainer pointed to the scale and said “Before you go, we need to do a weigh-in.” Clearly I was expecting to see a bit of a loss or just the same number from the past year. But that wasn’t the case. I gained weight.
Over 3 years ago, I made the decision to lose weight and get in better shape. Ever since then, I have been committed to maintaining a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise and weightlifting. I’ve lost over 45 lbs. and have kept it off. So to find out that I had gained weight was pretty shocking.
As I spent the next few days thinking about what happened and wondering "where did I go wrong,” it also occurred to me that I’ve encountered a situation similar to this a few times with my clients at BiddingForGood. They’ve been running a successful auction for years, and then surprisingly, their last auction doesn’t raise as much money, even if, for the most part, they did all the right stuff.
After that dreadful weigh-in my first reaction was that I thought I did everything I was supposed to. I even came up with a few excuses, such as: it probably just all muscle and I may just be dehydrated. But, then as I thought about it some more, I realized that maybe I did cut a few corners here and there, maybe I did indulge a little bit more than I originally tracked, and so on.
After your auction closes and you realize that you didn’t raise as much as you thought you would, the best thing to do is first give yourself a few days to decompress and then start thinking about what happened:
- Were there any other events or other factors going on at the organization or in the community that may have impacted your audience’s engagement?
- How did you publicize your auction this year? Did you send out as many emails? What were the open and click rates of those emails?
- Did one of your historically top performing categories do as well as in the past? Sometimes all it takes is not getting one or two of the higher grossing items to change the results of the whole auction.
(You can find a great recap with helpful charts, graphs and comparison data in the End of Auction Report, which Alice wrote about earlier this week.)
Answering those questions and really digging into the results can help you move on the next part that I like to call “What Now?” Now that you have some general ideas of why your auction didn’t do as well, how do you move forward?
- Don’t dwell on it! After a couple of days of moping and feeling aggravated, I told myself that I had to stop feeling bad and guilty. The same applies to auction administrators. This shouldn't completely negate all of the hard work you put into your fundraiser.
What I’ve found in general is that you just need to get creative. What other businesses/contacts can you ask for donations? What are some creative ways to promote and get our supporters excited? You may also want to think about the date that you’re running your online auction. For example, if you’ve been running it before your auction, you may want to try running it after or even running it separately at another time of the year.
- Set Goals! Besides my obvious bigger goal to lose what I’ve gained, I’ve also set some additional fitness- and diet-related goals to help me reach it. As an auction administrator, you should think of some long- and short-term goals for your next auction, such as how much money you’d like to raise next year. Other goals to think about are: reaching a certain number of items or auction bidders, sending a certain number of emails, using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter more often to publicize, and setting a date to have your auction homepage ready.
Once you’ve figured out “What Now?” it’s time to put that plan into action! The biggest lesson I learned from my setback is that it’s an opportunity to reassess your goals, reset expectations, and most importantly, keep moving forward!