“You’ll raise significantly more money with fundraising auction-quality sound and lights.” ~ Kathy Kingston
Often, benefit auction gala committees skimp, forget, or just avoid using professional sound and lighting, but they are critical. Here’s a basic truth: if your audience cannot hear you, they will not bid. When guests do not bid, you fail to engage and inspire you guests leaving untold money in the room.
“Fundraising auction quality” sound and lighting serves in your best interest to maximize revenue and adds to the quality of your guests’ experience. A benefit charity auction has a very specific sound design, and there are two components that matter. First, insist that professional audio and visual specialists take care of the sound and lights. Never, ever use the speakers in the ceiling of a venue—they are designed to make one announcement or maybe play a little background music during dinner. They are inadequate for charity benefit auctions, and if you use them, you will have miserable fundraising results.
Keep your guests fully engaged. Insist on audio-speakers on stands that surround your entire audience. This will help to ensure that your guests can hear every single word of your inspiring stories, mission and auctioneer. Whether you are raising funds at the $50,000 level, $5,000 or at the $50 level, you want to make sure that your guests are inspired to be generous throughout your entire event.
Importantly, be sure to also include your silent auction area to add a fundraising auction-quality sound system because you will want your guests to hear and bid during the noisy silent auction and cocktail party action.
Here are some of my top tips for sound and light that sells both your mission and your auction items.
Hire a professional audio/visual company
Benefit auctions require unique sound and light staging – different from any other event. High-quality sound is one of most overlooked areas for auction success. Guests are encouraged to cheer, applaud and have fun! If your guests cannot hear or understand above all the noise – they will not bid – a significant loss. Do NOT use the in-house sound system. A professional sound company that provides independent auction quality sound will pay for itself many times over.
Illuminate your silent and live auction brightly, not the auctioneer
Turn up the house lights full during the live auction! Good lighting is critical to auction success. Make sure your guests can read the silent auction forms and auction catalog. Dim dinner-style lighting can lose thousands of dollars and put your guests to sleep. Never spotlight your auctioneer; it is impossible to see bidders.
Rehearsal and Sound Check
Stipulate in your contract with the sound company that they set up the complete sound and lighting system and be ready for auctioneer sound check at least two hour prior to the start of the event.
Plan, plan and emergency sound plan
Create a written a communications plan for the event. This way, if during the program, live auction or Fund A Need, sound or lighting levels need to adjusted or if there are any problems, your auctioneer can and will request necessary adjustments immediately on the spot from the stage without interruptions to the program or fundraising portions of the event.