What is the right food choice and timeline for your Benefit Auction?

December 5, 2013


There are so many different options for today’s’ benefit auction fundraiser. What time should it start? When should cocktails be available? What food should be served? When should the guests be seated? When should the Live Auction to start? When is desert served?

Answers to these questions and more really depend on the type of benefit event you have. For example, a food station tasting fundraiser will have a completely different timeline than a sit down dinner, and a stand-up cocktail party will be timed differently than an award fundraising dinner. After you have selected the type of your benefit event, consider the timeline and what you want to incorporate into it to maximize your fundraising efforts.

If you decide to have cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while at the same time having a silent auction, you will want to allow at least one hour to an hour and a half for this. A good rule of thumb is 6:00pm – 7:30pm. In order to transition into dinner, allow ten minutes for your guests to make their final bids on the silent auction items, and then take their seats for dinner.

As your guests are seated, have a pre-set salad already placed to make efficient use of your timeline. You can then have a welcome and thank you for coming to support the organization while dinner is served. Some organizations make the decision to take a break in their timeline for dinner, while others continue with their program with presenting the message and or video for, “Why we are here.” This is very effective as it engages your audience while the night is young. After the “Why” introduce your professional benefit auctioneer to conduct the live auction and fund-a-need.

Last but not least is desert and when should it be served. If you want to maximize your fundraising efforts, do not serve desert in the middle of the live auction or fund-a-need. Instead hold desert until after the fundraising is complete, and communicate this to the catering staff. Maximize your revenue by serving desert at the proper time.

These tips and more are just a few ways a professional benefit auctioneer can help your organization and provide consultation for your event. Planning strategic elements is key to producing a successful fundraiser, and knowing how to structure your event and timeline for maximum your fundraising results.

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