April 2, 2013

Service Auction

Recently, we had an evening get together with the ladies of a women's organization I'm a part of called the Relief Society.  We decided that, in honor of the Relief Society's 171st birthday, we would have a Service Auction.  It was a HUGE hit!  I worked with a small group of women to organize the event, and I wanted to document some of the specifics of the night...

A couple weeks in advance, we handed out invitations.  Pictured above, they were auction paddles made out of large popsicle sticks and cardstock.  There was a number on one side, and the invitation specifics were on the other side (date, time, etc.).

We asked people to bring their paddle with them on the night of the auction, but had extras the night of for anyone who forgot.  Everyone got to use their paddle to bid - real live auction style!

We found this idea, and many others for our event, on a blog called Mishmash Mom.  Be sure to check out her post too!

A couple weeks in advance, we invited everyone to donate a service item. We setup an online "google doc" for people to sign up on.  There was a space for their name, and what they were donating.  We also included a list of possible donation items to give people ideas.  We had a great response!  We emailed a link to the list a couple of times, and allowed people to sign up last minute as they came to the event.  We ended up with over 50 items!  Many people gave more than one thing.  Here is a list of some of the things that people donated:

Ride to/from the airport (after bedtime/before dawn)
2 hours of housecleaning
Family Photo Session (or just your kids, or just you!)
Haircut and style
Babysitting- an evening or Saturday daytime
Made-to-order red crocheted scarf
45 min Aroma Touch Massage
Amber & turquoise necklace
16oz of our own local honey- harvested in June
Four quarts of soup
French Lesson
Photography Class
Personalized wood sign
Clean out your fridge!
Shellac Pedicure/Manicure
Special Occasion Cake
Custom Birthday Invitations & Decorations
Authentic Mexican Enchiladas
Your entire family's haircuts in your home
Homemade pie: lemon meringue or pumpkin
Homemade strawberry ice cream
Homemade Boston Cream Pie
Mint brownies
Homemade Bread (bread-making class optional)
6 crocheted flowers, hearts, and/or butterflies
3 Handmade Hair Ribbons
Resume review or job interview prep session
2 crocheted cotton washcloths
Frozen cookie dough

Some people brought items the night of (frozen cookie dough, bread, hair bows), but most was for delivery on a later date.

Before the event, we organized the list to put a few "hot ticket" items at the beginning, so that people were not saving all their points for items at the end.  We wanted a lot of bidding, and figured that if people were "holding out" for big items, we wouldn't get as much action throughout.

The donation list was printed and brought to the event and people continued to sign up as they arrived.

Right before the auctioning started we made a bunch of copies of the list to hand out so that people knew what had been donated, and the order that things would be auctioned off in.  

We had some festive colored plates, balloons and tissue paper banners as decorations on the night of.  We had dinner before the auction, and offered a baked potato/salad bar.  It was delicious!

When people arrived and got their food, we had them fill out the Service Auction Questionnaire, which was available at each place setting, along with a pen.  The results of the questionnaire gave each person the points they would bid with.  Here's how it worked:

There were about 100 questions, on both sides of one piece of paper.  Each question had a "yes" or "no" answer, and each "yes" answer was worth 10 points.  This made it easy for everyone to add up.
People had point totals ranging from 400-700 points, and they kept track of their own points.  We made a rule that people could not combine points.

As they bid for items and won, they would subtract those points from their total.  It was all on the honor system.    Some people did win more than one item, which was fine because we had more items than people in attendance.  And typically, for a big ticket item, someone had to use all of their points anyway.  So, people generally got one "big" item for all their points, or split up their points for a couple of "smaller" items.  It worked out really well.  It kept the bidding lively and fun.
To see a copy of the questionnaire, click here.  

A big part of the night was having an amazing auctioneer!  

We had the husband of one of the ladies in the group act as the auctioneer.  He had a real gavel, a fast pace, and some great jokes.  We seriously won the jackpot with this guy :)  I would definitely suggest getting a good auctioneer!!  

First of all, with over 50 items, we were a little worried about the time it would take.  Our auctioneer could talk fast, and kept the auction moving very quickly.  Bidding was never allowed to lull before the item was pronounced "sold!"  As soon as one item was finished he went right into the next item, no pause.  This worked well for time, but also worked well because it never felt like any item wasn't being bid on.  Even if only 2 people bid, it all happened so fast, that it felt really lively.  All together, the bidding went for just about an hour, which was perfect!

For early items, we started the bidding at about 80-100 points.  As we got further down the list, we lowered the starting bid to about 40, because most people had used a large portion of their points, and it was natural to lower the starting bid price.  

We had one person keeping a master list of items won.  Using one of the copies of the items available, she wrote down the name of each person who won, and also handed them a card that had info on the item they won, and how to contact the person who donated the item.  After the event, we emailed the master list of winners out to everyone.  

There were a lot of logistics, but we had such a great time - and our event was a huge success!!  We were so happy to give people the opportunity to serve others, and share their talents.  We hope that new friendships are formed, and new acquaintances made through these acts of service.  We were very happy that all the items were bid on, and appreciated.  We were impressed with the items donated, and how kind and energetic everyone was at the event.  

Hopefully this will give you a few good ideas if you are planning your own service auction!  Personally, I am very thankful that I was given the opportunity to serve someone else by sharing my talents, and have such a fun time doing it!

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  1. Best activity ever! And especially because I ended up with 2 hours of cleaning! :) Thanks for all you did!

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  3. Doesn't your auctioneer look alot like Ed Helms (Andy Bernard) from the office? Maybe it's just me. Looks like it was lot of fun! Well done.

  4. Wow Really fun activity! And super organized! You guys rock!

  5. I would really like to see the questionnaire, but the link is not working! Please let me know if it's working soon!

    1. Sorry that the link isn't working for you.
      I've just tried it myself, and it downloads an excel file just fine for me.
      If you'd like, you can email me, and I'll email it to you directly.

  6. Looks so awesome! How did you determine how many points each item should be auctioned for? Did the sisters pick the amount themselves? I was wondering how you'd do that without offending someone! ("Why'd you give her item more points than mine?!")

    1. Hi Emily,
      Good question.
      I believe we pretty much started everyone at the same point value. I did this a long time ago, but in my post I wrote: For early items, we started the bidding at about 80-100 points. As we got further down the list, we lowered the starting bid to about 40, because most people had used a large portion of their points, and it was natural to lower the starting bid price.

      By doing it this way, you don't have to worry about offending someone. Start them all the same, and the bidding for big ticket items will naturally go higher. Toward the end of the night we bumped that starting # down, simply because people were running out of points.

      Things to consider when determining starting a bid price: how many average points you expect someone will have and then how many items you have. You may want to put the big ticket items toward the beginning of the night.

      Good luck!

  7. Interesting Article. Hoping that you will continue posting an article having a useful information. Auction Bidding Service

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