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Charity Auction Gala Agenda for Success


A well conceived agenda is one of the most important benefit auction elements for success

Charity Auctioneers Gala

For many non-profits, a charity auction is the largest annual fundraising event.  If you’ve participated in the planning and execution of a benefit auction, you know fundraising auctions are demanding and complicated.  There’s a lot to do and many important decisions to make.  Setting the date, selecting the venue, deciding on admission prices, selling tickets, providing on-line registration, procuring auction items and promoting the event are among the tasks that must be accomplished. So much to consider and do, but the event agenda will have a far greater impact on your event’s financial success (and flow) than any other decision you make.

Fundraising gala auction events generally have 7 components.

  1. Cocktail/ Social Hour
  2. Silent Auction
  3. A Message from the Organization
  4. Sit Down Dinner
  5. Live Auction
  6. Fund-a-Need.  (Fund-a-Need is when attendees are given the opportunity to make cash  donations to the non-profit.
  7. Entertainment Music, Dancing, DJ etc.)

In a properly conducted benefit auction gala , roughly 70% of the non-admission revenues result from the live auction and fund-a-need, while 30% of the non-admission revenues are generated by the silent auction.  90 minutes is plenty of time for a successful silent auction.  The silent auction should be conducted from the time the doors open until the end of the social/ cocktail “hour". It’s important that your benefit auctioneer performs some emcee services and effectively “counts down” the closing of the silent auction with a sufficient sound system so attendees clearly understand when the bidding will close.  This bolsters silent auctions revenues and creates a bidding frenzy during the final minutes of the silent auction.  At the close of the silent auction, attendees should be directed to take their seats for dinner, keeping to the planned agenda.   Salads should be placed on the tables just before guests are seated.  Winning bidders should immediately be determined and a report of the silent auction results (by bidder number, not name) should be placed on every table.  This should be done prior to the start of the live auction so serious supporters know how much money is left in their “support budget.”

Identifying the "window of opportunity" for the live charity auction

Thousands of fundraising auctions are conducted across the United States every year but many are not be achieving their full financial potential. (The necessities of hiring a professional benefit auctioneer to keep the agenda on schedule as well as other critical factors are reviewed in our other blog articles). The importance of conducting your live auction during the optimum “window of opportunity” is immeasurable.  A truly successful live charity auction requires the entire audience to be seated and attentive. If you miss this “window of opportunity”, your results will not likely reach their maximum potential. Let's recount about this so called optimum time to conduct the live benefit auction of your fundraiser. 

Most people will sit comfortably for an hour.  On average, fifteen minutes are required to serve dinner and get the "live charity auction" segment of the fundraiser gala started.  When attendees have finished their meals, they wish to socialize and it becomes difficult to direct their focus upon the upcoming agenda items. When dinner is concluded, it’s time to chat, get up and do something else.   Human nature is impossible to change, but must be anticipated and accommodated.  When dinner is over the crowd's attention is elsewhere and the optimum time for live auction has passed.

Dinner is the one time during the event where the entire crowd is seated and their attention can be easily captured.   The window of opportunity begins once dinner has been served and lasts for 45 minutes. When attendees are eating dinner they are more interested in enjoying their meal than socializing.  On average, 80% of your attendees are not interested in participating in the bidding.  For these attendees, the live auction becomes part of the evening's entertainment.  We receive rave reviews from attendees who did not bid, yet enjoyed the action, excitement and competition of the live benefit auction.  This is reinforced by the cheers and applause offered when a winning bidder is determined.

The largest adversarial factor of benefit auctions event is chatty attendees. The financial impact of attendees who have reengaged in socializing and are no longer focused on the agenda is substantial.

Closing thoughts; give your charity fundraising auction agenda as much thought and attention as any other element of the charity auction or gala. Be sure to discuss the number of live items being offered with your benefit auctioneer and be sure that they can be presented within the "window of opportunity." Most importantly be sure to stay on schedule. (Please see our blog post titled "3 Common Charity Auction Errors") Don't allow any delays .  Agenda variations as they will compromise your results.  Make your next benefit auction or charity gala fundraiser is a smashing success!

We welcome you to visit our other blog entries or visit or website for more information about charity auctions and fundraising galas.

3 Common Charity Auction Errors


Three mistakes that will surely affect your charity fundraisers bottom line.

Charity Auctioneers

In our other blog posts we write about the many elements involved in organizing a successful benefit auction fundraiser. Even the very best planned charity auctions are often hampered by the same three errors. These mistakes will affect your bottom line.

Error #1:  Inadequate sound system.

Believe it or not this is a common and serious problem! Just think, a benefit auction gala where attendees cannot hear the auctioneer?  Often, the event facility’s “house” sound system is not adequate for a live auction and no consideration is given for a proper sound system in the silent auction area.  Sound is the lifeline of your event.  If attendees can’t hear what’s going on, your event is losing money. The silent auction is one of the noisiest times of the entire event.  For the silent auction segment of your charity fundraiser to be successful, it is crucial that the benefit auctioneer is heard over the conversations of attendees.  He/ she must be able to promote bidding, close the silent auction by section and encourage the attendees to proceed to the next agenda segment of the gala or charity fundraiser.

Error # 2: Failure to brighten house lights. Often the house lights are dimmed as attendees are seated for dinner.  It is essential that the house lights are brightened at the beginning of the live auction! It sends a signal that something is about to happen and assists directing the attention of the attendees onto the main event. Your auctioneer needs good lighting to see the bids and interact with the attendees and attendees are more attentive and engaging in brighter lighting conditions. A spotlight on a performer in a dimly lit room might be great for a singer, but not for a benefit auctioneer. Inadequate lighting will always have a negative impact on live auction revenues.

Error # 3: Delays in Schedule. This is the number one error for a charity auction fundraiser. Like it or not, people have a limited attention span. Human nature cannot be changed, but can worked with in the most effective possible way.  Before your guests arrive at your charity gala or benefit fundraising auction they have an idea of how long they plan to stay. A common mistake auction committees make is extending the silent auction, or deviating from the schedule by spending unallocated time selling raffle tickets before the live benefit auction.  Any delays have a domino effect that will cause a delay in serving dinner and starting the live auction. The later the live auction is started, the less attentive guests will be.  Less attentive guests spend less money.  Once a charity auction gala gets off schedule, guests become disconnected.  They no longer believe the agenda and do not know what comes next.  Disconnected guests are less happy and spend less money.

In summary: Stay on schedule, be sure that your guests are comfortable and fully engaged in the live benefit auction. (Please see our blog post titled "Charity Auction Gala Agenda for Success") Don't let this number one mistake change the outcome of your next charity fundraiser to anything less than superb!

Conclusion: We are pleased to share these three simple common mistakes with you and invite you to visit our website and other blog posts that focus upon the elements of successful charity auction galas, charity auctioneers and benefit auctions.

Business Liquidation Auctions are Efficient and Timely


Auctioneers can liquidate the assets of a business in a single day.

Business Liquidation AuctioneersAs a result of today's poor economic conditions, there are a large number of businesses in the U.S. that are closing up shop.  Many business owners who had hoped to sell their businesses in pursuit of retirement or other interests are discovering that there is not a market for their company.  This is true of all types of businesses ranging from a small company with two employees to larger corporations with several hundred employees.  For most business owners the final source of income is in the equipment, tools, supplies, inventory and other items of value that were used in everyday operations.  While some owners may attempt to sell the assets on their own, they quickly realize how much effort and time it can take.  It can involve many months or even years to sell these items with conventional sale methods.  Savvy business owners recognize the time value of money and opt to engage the services of business liquidation auctioneers. 

Commercial auctioneers understand how to effectively market business assets and present them in a way that adds value.  By utilizing the internet, asset liquidation auctioneers expand the buying market to the entire country or even a global audience. Typically auctioneers can sell all of a businesses’ property in one or two days depending upon the size of the business. With a liquidation auction business owners may not get top dollar for any individual item, but as a whole they will realize a lot more money than they would using any other means of sale because at an asset liquidation auction the items considered to be of low value often surpass expectations and everything sells!

Business liquidation auctioneers also sell business assets for creditors who are owed money and have a secured interest in the assets.  With the large number of business failures in the last few years, many secured parties, such as banks and credit unions are relying heavily upon asset liquidation auctioneers to recover what they can from the sale of their secured collateral.  Since banks aren't in the business of selling equipment, business property or inventory, they seek qualified auctioneers to get best possible financial returns in the most effective manner.

Attending a business liquidation auction is a great way to acquire equipment or inventory for personal or business usage. Buyers benefit because of the good values that can be found. Creditors are able to recoup some of the money they were owed through the asset conversion process provided by auction.

Whether you are looking to hire a qualified business liquidation auctioneer, or are looking for auctions to attend, you can visit  Strategic Auction Alliance is a highly qualified full service auction firm.  They offer a several different types of auction services such as on site auctions, timed internet auctions, real estate auctions, live simulcast auctions, appraisals and much more.  Please feel free to contact Strategic Auction Alliance to receive the best marketing exposure and financial return for your business assets.

Professional Charity Auctioneers at Your Next Benefit Auction Gala


All non-profit organizations need to raise money and will attest to the trying economic times we are faced with. 

Charity Auctioneers, Benefit Auction Gala

Many non-profits are discovering that charity auctions are a great way to raise money.  Fundraising auctions offer a win - win scenario for donors, supporters and the non-profit organization alike.  Donors of merchandise/ services, as well as event sponsors, are recognized by a captive audience for their donations and support of the organization.  Attendees have the opportunity to enjoy a great night out; support a cause they believe in and purchase unique products and services they desire.  Event attendees and winning bidders often reward donors by becoming loyal customers who refer additional business for years to come.  The non-profit organization benefits from the revenues and public relations exposure that a charity gala auction event can generate.

There are a number of details your organization needs to address in order to conduct a successful auction including:

  • Setting the event date
  • Selecting a venue
  • Setting the event agenda
  • Determining the menu
  • Recruiting volunteers
  • Obtaining auction items
  • Promoting the event
  • Setting admission pricing
  • Selling tickets
  • Optimally setting up the venue for the silent & live auction
  • Accurately entering the winning bids in the accounting system
  • Efficiently running attendee check in/ out
  • Accepting various types of payments
  • Distributing merchandise to winning bidders
  • Sending out thank you notes after the event

There is a lot to do and every single function is critically important to the success of the event so it must be addressed correctly. Smooth running, properly executed, benefit auction fundraisers will also be a factor in repeat attendance.   To make sure your fundraiser gala event is a success, it’s critical to secure the services of an experienced and reputable professional charity auctioneer.  A competent benefit auctioneer will help you to address all of these issues.  The fees you pay a charity auction professional are an investment that will return many times what you pay.  Charity auction professionals know what works and what does not. Running a charity event without a professional auctioneer is like going to trial without an attorney.  Non-profits who guess at the right decisions will obtain less than optimum results.  We’ve seen non-profits make easily avoidable mistakes that cost them thousands of dollars!

Most professional charity auctioneers include pre-event gala consultation, event night microphone duties including closing out the silent auction, live auction bid calling and running a cash sponsorship appeal for a specific purpose, (a.k.a.“Fund a Need”), segment as a part of their services.  Interview multiple benefit auctioneers and ask for references. Make sure you understand the full scope of services that are being offered to your organization. Make an effort to understand the philosophy and style of the auctioneers you speak with.  Be sure to select a benefit auctioneer who is professional, cooperative, understanding, accessible and is a good “fit” with the needs and of your organization.  Your charity auction professional should include a pre-event venue analysis as a part of their charity auction consulting services to ensure that your venue is set up in a way that promotes the best flow of traffic for the evening's activities, while presenting your auction items in the best possible light.

Strategic Auction Alliance is unique in the range of services we provide to non-profits. We have talented multiple auctioneers on our staff  and offer a full host of services on an “A-La Carte” basis including; pre-event consultation, emceeing, bid calling, bid spotting, computer based check in/ out, bid clerking, invoicing and payment collection.  Our full service option will allow you to enjoy your event and socialize with your guests, giving the proper attention to those who have helped your organization, and make your event run smoothly and profitably.  We have experience in running fundraising auctions of all types and sizes which ensures your event will go off without a hitch and raise as much money as possible. 

If you have unanswered questions please feel free to check out our Charity Auction FAQs pages for the answers to those common ones. For complete information visit our main benefit auction pages that feature or email or call us at 877-426-8175. We would be pleased to chat with you!

Municipal Auctioneers Generate Revenues for Towns and Cities


Tax possessions, tax titles, surplus property ...What is all that?

Municipal Auctioneers, Tax Title, Tax Possession, Municipal Real Estate Auctions

Municipal auctioneers provide services for cities & towns that need to liquidate real estate, tax titles and surplus equipment.  Tax title, tax possession and surplus property auctions provide municipalities a means to generate much needed revenues.

Tax possessions are properties that have the right of redemption  foreclosed upon by a municipality through the land court and are now in the possession of the city or town.  At a tax possession auction, bidders purchase real property that’s in the municipalities’ possession following a tax foreclosure judgment. 

Tax title assets are an entirely different type of investment. Under Massachusetts General Law, cities & towns are allowed to sell tax titles by assignment at public auction.  When a property owner is seriously delinquent on their taxes, their property goes into tax title status.  

One might ask:
"If tax possession properties and tax title assets are different then what exactly is a tax title? 

Tax titles represent the town’s receivable position on a property. Winning tax title assignees, (the high bidder) steps “into the shoes” of the municipality and are entitled to 16% interest on the principal balance of the tax title if, or when the property owner satisfies the tax liability held by the now third party investor, (this is also known as redemption).The assignee, (the winning bidder at an auction), can elect to pursue tax foreclosure of the right of redemption proceedings to gain possession (ownership) of the property. Unlike a mortgagee foreclosure auction when a third party investor acquires the real property by land court judgment that investor is entitled to keep all proceeds resulted from any subsequent sale and the previous owner of record is not entitled to reimbursement of any overage realized above the base tax liability.  

Surplus property auctions are described as when municipalities sell real estate and equipment that is no longer needed by the city or town.

More about the different types of municipal property auctions:

Tax possession, tax title and surplus property auctions are an excellent opportunity for investors, residents and municipalities on many different levels. Municipalities can rapidly generate revenues for assets that are otherwise idle. Investors have a chance to generate an excellent return on their investments. Residents can add to their properties at auction prices when abutting lots are available for sale. Surplus property auctions liquidate assets the city, county, or state no longer uses. These items can include office equipment, furniture, light fixtures, automobiles, heavy equipment, tools and real estate. Surplus auctions provide people an affordable option of obtaining items at a fraction of their original costs or value.

Municipalities often hire third party municipal auctioneers to handle the details of tax title, tax possession and surplus property auctions. The third party firm provides the municipality with expertise in accelerated auction sales and auction marketing. Municipal auctioneers organize the auction, advertise the property, conduct the auction and collect payments from successful bidders. Auctions may be conducted live on the internet via an online absentee bidding option, or perhaps a live real time internet simulcast for the convenience of those participants who wish to engage remotely.  

Live auctions are commonly used, where bids are taken by the auctioneer until no more people desire to bid on the property. The person with the highest bid is the winner and receives the asset upon payment. Efficient experienced municipal auctioneers work with the local government to determine the best type of auction method to use for the property being sold.

Municipal auctioneers may have established minimum opening bids for certain properties as well as set reserve prices. The minimum opening bid is the lowest allowable amount the municipality is willing to accept for the property or asset. Massachusetts General Law mandates that the minimum bid upon a tax title asset must be the total liability due. Tax possessions, (properties that were granted a judgment through land court), however do not have a law mandated minimum bid. Often properties often sell for more than their past due tax amounts when the balance due is only the fraction of the true value of the property. Reserve price auctions are where the municipality will set a price limit which must be met in order for the property to be sold. Past experience has proven that these reserves are typically very reasonable as the municipalities are truly motivated to get these assets back on the tax roles and the numbers often change on auction day as the local government will often consider the overall sale proceeds in the aggregate many times offsetting some of the assett that would have otherwise fallen short of expectations.

Reasons why Municipal Auctions can be an attractive vehicle for today's investors:

  • 16% interest on municipal debt upon redemption
  • Much higher return on investment if land court awards foreclosure judgement for the right of redemption and the investor acquires the property.

When considering investing in Massachusetts tax assets please be sure to perform your due dilligence and fully understand M.G.L. Chapter 60

Strategic Auction Alliance provides municipal auctioneers, charity auctions, industrial auctioneers, real estate auctioneers, personal property auctioneers and appraisal services. For more information on holding or participating in an auction in the New England area, visit our website or call 877-426-8175.

Braintree Police Auction In Review


Bruins Victory Parade had little impact on Braintree Police Auction

Police Auction, Braintree MA


Recently, we ran an unclaimed property auction for the Braintree Police Department.  It was one of the largest turn outs we’ve ever seen at an auction of this type. It just so happened that we ended up running the same day and time as the Bruins 2011 Stanley Cup victory parade which jammed up many of the highways leading into the city and affected traffic in adjacent metro areas including our auction site providing our auction marketing & PR campaign with a true test of effectiveness.


To accommodate everyone who came we delayed the police auction by nearly an hour.  Some who saw the crowd decided not to stay fearing prices would be artificially high and the auction would drag on.  At the start of the auction nearly 300 bidders were registered to bid on 204 items including bicycles, electronics, tools, hunting knives, new clothing lots, new shoes and bags and miscellaneous jewelry items. 


The crowd consisted of onlookers, families, new auction attendees and seasoned auction veterans.  204 lots were sold in just over two hours. Of the 300 attendees only 50 were winning bidders.  Auction attendees who were veterans of the storage auction circuit made up approximately 15% of the crowd, but accounted for 70% of the purchases.


A week after the auction many of those auction regulars reported selling their police auction purchases for a tidy profit.  Any party intimidated by the number of attendees would have undoubtedly missed an opportunity as the stats seem to indicate the buyer’s knowledge of value is far more important than the size of the crowd. We hope you enjoy your next auction!


Advantages of Selling Real Estate at Auction


 Real Estate Auctioneers, Real Estate Auctions

Frequently we are asked: "Why would someone consider selling their real property at auction?" Listed below are few advantageous reasons for doing so:

  • Time value of money. A majority of the time the owner has plans for the proceeds following the sale of the property, the longer it takes to sell the property the longer those plans must wait. An auction can determine the date the property will sell allowing the owner to go forward with those plans. A property sold quickly at auction avoids long term holding costs and declining market conditions.

  • Sale contingencies are determined by the seller. Frequently after lengthy negotiations a deal will fall apart due to a contingency of sale that the buyer and seller cannot resolve. In an auction transaction the terms of sale are predetermined and are only as negotiable as the seller stipulates. It is true that the stricter the terms the fewer buyers may be qualified to participate so a balance must established however auction transactions typically successfully close.To learn more about selling at auction visit our Auction 101 page.
  • Market is revealed. An auction sale forces the market to react when potential buyers bid competitively in ascending increments until the party who will pay the most for the property within the set terms of that transaction on that date is determined. To learn more about buying at auction visit our Auction 101 page.

Some situations where auctions are a practical mechanism of sale are commercial real estate exchange, cash flow or capitalization problems, or what about a distressed property where the owner hasn't the desire or means to improve the property to make it attractive for traditional marketing. For more information please visit the real estate auction pages of our website. 

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