Auction committees often envision a grand unveiling of the web/online catalog, something like a much-anticipated opening night of a Broadway production.
As alluring as the analogy might be - it's helpful to remember that those much-anticipated plays rarely started out on Broadway. . .
Advantages of NOT restricting access to your web/online catalog:
- The likelihood that visitors will stumble across your site before you have started promoting it is almost nil (unfortunate, but true).
- Your team won't need to expend any energy figuring out how to adjust your site settings to hide items now and unveil them later.
- Early visitors are your dress rehearsal audience - better to discover glitches in your settings or instructions before the masses arrive at the big launch.
- Like off-broadway audiences, early visitors can spread the word and help drive others to the site.
- What's the worst thing that can happen? Someone stumbles onto the site and places an early bid to start the bidding? Hooray!
If you are concerned about the visibility of incomplete (or inaccurate) item information: instruct your data entry team to create items as though they are "breaking news":
- Enter only what you know about an item, do not guess: "A week in Hawaii! Donated by Ann and Mark Miller, FMV = Priceless. Complete details and pictures coming soon."
- Embellish the item record and description as details are provided.
The only legitimate fundraising reason to configure a preview-only period for an Online Auction is when you are selling coveted (and limited) fixed-price items (such as sign-up parties or limited edition artwork) and need a strict start time to ensure fair access to everyone in your community.
But - if you decide that it is necessary to limit access to your catalog, rest assured that controls are available to allow you to:
- Hide some or all items
- Restrict display to items within a particular bidding method (gala or online/mobile)
- Establish a preview period for your online auction
- Specify a display order for your items