Shows how to set up and carry out a series of the most common Auction games and raffles. Each is explained below.
Heads and Tails
Golden Ticket Raffles offer a limited number of higher price tickets for a chance to win a high-value prize - typically the choice of any live auction item.
Selling 100 tickets at $100 can be surprisingly easy for a buyer's choice prize, and can increase participation when significant numbers of attendees feel "priced out" of the live auction portion of the event.
Golden Ticket Set Up:
1. Enter Item
Name = Golden Ticket
Donor = Friends of Your Organization
Type = Raffle
Quantity = Number of tickets available
Uncheck the "Display Item in Public Catalog" box under the Options Tab.
Many organizations charge $100 per Golden Ticket. Set your Golden Ticket price based on this Rule of Thumb: if half of your guests purchase a ticket, the revenue should equal or exceed the Fair Market Value of any of your live auction items (or at least most of them). Example: At your auction, say the live auction item with the highest FMV is a week-long trip to Bermuda, with an FMV of $12,000. You are expecting 300 guests. $12,000 divided by 150 tickets is $80/ticket. This is the minimum price you should charge for a Golden Ticket.
2. Sell the Golden Tickets
At the event, ask your auctioneer to announce that anyone present could win any of the live auction items for a fraction of its Fair Market Value, by buying a Golden Ticket.
Recruit a well-dressed and charismatic ticket sales volunteer to walk through the crowd with a roll of 2-part tickets and a clipboard. As tickets are sold, the volunteer collects two pieces of information:
- The buyer's bidder number
- The Live Auction item the buyer wishes to win (or they can be instructed to have an answer ready in the event that they win)
3. Record the Ticket Sales
The sales volunteer notes each buyer's bidder number and desired prize on a tracking sheet, and also notes it on one half of the ticket, which the seller keeps for the drawing. The buyer keeps the other half of the ticket.
Periodically the ticket seller delivers the sheet of bidder numbers to the data entry staff. The data entry staff use the "Sell a Bulk Item" button on the Auction Night screen to enter the Golden Ticket sales. Meanwhile, the ticket seller obtains a fresh, blank tracking sheet and sells more tickets.
4. Pick the Winner
Work with your auctioneer to determine the best time and method for drawing the winner's name, but make sure that you have closed Golden Ticket sales 10-15 minutes before the live auction begins, to give your data-entry people time to get the ticket sales entered.
NOTE: If you have not sold enough Golden Tickets to cover the FMV of your most expensive Live Auction Item, you may want to announce that your Golden Ticket raffle has been cancelled due to insufficient sales, and refund any Golden Ticket purchases to their buyers.
5. Record the Winner
The winner is "sold" the Live Auction Item of their choice for $0, creating record of who won for later reference.
Raffles are an excellent way to keep all of your guests involved in the evening. They are also an excellent way to ensure that you meet or exceed the Fair Market Value on an item that otherwise might not be the subject of a bidding frenzy.
Example: At one school, the raffle prize was a class visit from the local Mad Science team. Mad Science, a reliable auction donor, offers fun in-class, hands-on science presentations. Their presentations are popular, but for some reason, never received more than a handful of bids. So the auction team set up a raffle for this item: $10/ticket for a chance to win the Mad Science In-Class Field Trip for any class the winner chose (presumably, one of their kids' classes). With a FMV of $129, the team only had to sell 13 tickets in order to cover the FMV, and they wound up selling over 50 tickets.
Raffle Set Up:
1. Enter the Prize
Enter the prize as Type = Silent, and move it to a "table" near the end of your Silent Auction. Including "Raffle Prize" in the item name can prevent confusion later. Under the Options tab, uncheck the "Display in public catalog" box.
2. Enter the Raffle Tickets
Enter a second item for the raffle ticket, Type = Raffle, with Friends of Your Organization as the donor. Give it a sufficient quantity, and set your price.
3. Choose where to Sell the Raffle Tickets
Sell your Raffle Tickets at check-in and/or have a charismatic and well-dressed individual sell tickets during your event, recording bid numbers on a sheet of paper that your data-entry volunteers will use to enter the ticket sales into the software. If your state permits online raffles (be sure to check as some states do not), you can sell tickets online (but you'll need to edit the item type to Sellable), as an Add On item on your Ticket Sales Page or on your Donation Page.
Note: the software does not "pick" the winner, so you'll need paper "tickets" or another system for the actual drawing.
4. Record the Gala sales through Auction Night Screen
Use the Sell a Bulk Item button on your Auction Night screen to record sales for each guest who purchased a raffle ticket. Do yourself a favor, and close the raffle ticket sales fairly early (before dinner if you are serving dinner, before the live auction if you are having a live auction), to give your data-entry volunteers enough time to enter the sales. They will need about 10 minutes per 100 tickets.
5. Choose the Winner.
Work with your auctioneer to conduct the drawing and annouce the winner during your Live Auction.
6. Record the Winner.
"Sell" the raffle prize item to its winner for $0.00.
Caution: Check your state law to see if online raffle sales are allowed.
Heads and Tails
Heads and Tails is a popular game, because it's easy and fun to play. Ask your auctioneer about it; many of them love the game. It gets guests up and moving and energizes them for the Live Auction. If you want to include it in your event, place a bid sheet on each table or in a certain area, with the amount it costs for each person to participate.
When the time comes the auctioneer will direct the guests to look at the bid sheets for the game and then tell them the rules. Then he/she has those who wish to play write down their bidder numbers and stand up. Next they are directed to place their hand on either their head or tail. Then the auctioneer tosses a coin. If it lands heads-up, the auctioneer calls "Heads!" and everyone with their hand on their tail has to sit down. Then the coin is tossed again and the results called out, with about half the participants sitting down after each coin toss. This continues until one person - the winner - remains standing.
A variation of Heads and Tails allows people to buy multiple chances to play - often signified by one necklace of mardi gras beads per chance. When a round is lost, players can remove one strand of beads and keep playing until they are out of beads and eliminated. If you use this variation, make sure everyone knows the rules and knows how many chances they can buy. We recommend setting a maximum limit in advance, so that no one buys enough chances to "game" the system, thus ruining the suspense for everyone else. But if you haven't set a limit in advance, don't change the rules midstream. At this point, the fair thing to do is play the game out.
What this person wins is up to you. You can tally the funds raised with Heads and Tails and give the winner 50% of that to spend on the auction. Or offer a gift card to a popular local restaurant or play.
Heads and Tails Set Up:
1. Enter the Tickets
Enter an Item called Heads and Tails Ticket with Type = Raffle, a set price, and plenty of quantity so that each guest can buy a ticket. Donor = Friends of Your Organization.
2. Enter the Ticket Sales
Use the Sell a Bulk Item button on your Auction Night page to enter ticket sales.
3. Record the Winner
Prize entry varies depending on the prize:
- If the winner gets to choose an existing item, such as a silent auction item, sell the item to the winner for $0. (Entering Heads and Tails Winner in the Notes field will help later.)
- If the Prize is cash (or a voucher/credit toward purchases at your auction), sell the silent prize item to the winner for the negative value of the cash prize. (Example: if the prize totals $400, "sell" the winner -$400.) If the prize is a credit, not cash, make sure the check-out team understands, so that no negative cash flow occurs through volunteer missteps.)
- If the Prize is identified in advance, it should be entered in your catalog as Type = Silent, with Heads & Tails Prize as part of its name, so that the donor gets the credit. Then "sell" it to the winner for $0.
Feeding Frenzy can solve a common auction problem: the over-procurement of restaurant gift cards. On their own, these rarely sell for face value in a Silent Auction, and not all of them can be combined into packages. So if you find yourself with too many restaurant cards, start your Live Auction with a Feeding Frenzy. Your auctioneer will explain the rules, which are simple: the first person to raise his or her paddle, or follow whatever silly command the auctioneer issues, wins the gift certificate. Think of this game more as entertainment than as fundraising. It can energize the crowd before your Live Auction as people will do extreme things to be noticed/awarded a prize. No money is raised but the the game gets the crowd warmed up and bidding.
Feeding Frenzy Set Up:
1. Enter Feeding Frenzy Item
For visibility in the Catalog, create an item called Feeding Frenzy as a Live Auction item that is Priceless or has no value assigned to it. The description should explain the game and list each of the gift cards in the same way you would with a lot. (In fact, if you are reading this after having created a lot for a Feeding Frenzy, simply remove the items from the lot and leave the hollow lot as your Feeding Frenzy listing.)
2. Enter Gift Cards
Enter each of the gift card prizes as Type = Silent, with their correct donor and FMV, and set them not to display in your catalog. (You may find it useful to create a separate range of numbers or a "table" for your Feeding Frenzy gift cards, so they don't get lost in the shuffle.)
3. Record the Winners
"Sell" the gift cards to their winners for $0. Work with your auctioneer to make sure that the spotters/recorders in the live auction and the volunteers doing data entry somewhere else have the same reference numbers and names so that the distribution of gift certificates to winners works smoothly at the end of the evening.
A Dessert Dash is a way to re-energize your food-logged guests, raise some money, and have some fun. Traditionally, each table has its own bid sheet, where guests write down their bidder numbers and the dollar amount they're willing to pay to be the first table to choose a dessert. It is the collective table bid that counts. Dessert Dashes can also be handled as a voting contest, with participants voting (with their wallets!) on their smartphones for their tables to win first choice of dessert.
Traditional Dessert Dash Set Up:
1. Enter Item
In your software, there are many ways to record your Dessert Dash, but all of them involve entering a single item, named Dessert Dash, with adequate quantity. The variations in entry only matter for tax purposes. Because we are not tax consultants, we do not advocate one variation over any other. The choices are:
- Enter your Dessert Dash as Type = Raffle, with a fixed price acknowledged on the receipt, but with no deductibility as a chance game. Each guest is betting that his or her table will bid the highest.
- Enter your Dessert Dash as Type = Sellable, with an FMV calculated as the average cost per person of a dessert. The amount entered for each bid number is then applied against that FMV and anything above it is deductible. (Don't worry about calculating the cumulative table cost of dessert or donations, as the per-table cost is irrelevant to taxes and your software.) Some guests benefit more, some less but this choice makes the argument that the total amount deductible is fairer to the tax payer and collector.
- Enter your Dessert Dash as Type = Paddle Raise, so the total cost is deductible as as donation. The argument is that dessert was paid for with admission and any benefit from getting to choose a dessert in a different order is so nominal and diluted by the cumulative table effect as to be negligible.
2. Record the Donations.
Collect the sheets from each table and record the individual contributions on the Auction Night page using the Sell a Bulk Item button.
Few things are as common to auctions as donated wine, and wine is almost universally enjoyed as an auction winning. A bottle of wine can be carried home easily, does not have to be used right way, does not require redecorating the garden or living room, and can be shared with others. The challenge for auction teams is how to distribute wine donations efficiently and make money. The standard solution is a Wine Wall.
Many variations exist on this game, but the central idea is that the identity of the wine is not known to the guest until after their purchase. Everyone pays the same price per bottle, say $20, but some may get $7 table wine and others may get a $50 vintage bottle. If your Wine Wall includes a particularly desireable bottle, it makes sense to advertise that to drive sales. You may want to publish the entire list, but you don't have to. Wrap the bottles in plain paper to hide the labels, have guests buy a number on a grid that corresponds to a spot on a wine rack and then do a public drawing.
In your software, enter the wine donations individually as Type = Silent. This allows you to thank your donors and give them appropriate tax credit. Individual listings also allow for tracking a bottle and donor through the sales or award stage.
Wine Wall Set Up:
1. Enter the Wine Donations
Create a new item for each bottle of wine, with Type = Silent, and its appropriate quantity, FMV and Donor information. You can assign these to their own "table," or give them their own range of item numbers for easier item management. If your guests include wine connoisseurs, they'll appreciate you providing specifics when it comes to Item Description.
2. Enter a Wine Wall Item
Enter an Item named Wine Wall, with Donor = Friends of Your Organization, Quantity = number of bottles for sale (so that you don't oversell), and a set price per bottle. How you set up the Wine Wall sales is a tax issue that we express no opinion about. The options are:
A. Set your Wine Wall to Type = Raffle. Chance games have no tax deductibility for the buyer.
B. Set your Wine Wall item to Type = Sellable, with FMV = the average value of all the bottles.
C. Set your Wine Wall Type = Sellable and generate a sales recording sheet. (If you fear volunteers will mistakenly sell these, change the Quantity to 0 after the sheet is generated.) Sell each specific bottle of wine to a specific guest.
3. Entering the Sales
How you enter sales depends on how you set up your Wine Wall item and how you want to distribute the bottles (see A, B, and C above).
If you used set up A or B: Use the Bulk Sell an Item button on your Auction Night screen to sell your wines to their buyers. You are not concerned with noting which guest receives which bottle.
If you used set up C: Record the fixed price sale of the wine wall against the actual bottle "won" so overpaying gives the guest a tax credit. (This is much more complicated than the alternatives and should only be done when most of the wines are expensive and your guests are wine lovers.)
4. Awarding the Wine to Buyers
If you used set up A or B: You hand the guest his or her bottle, but no specific bottle is recorded or associated with each guest order.
If you used set up C: The exact bottle gets picked up at Will Call, and is recorded on the Guest Receipt. This option is more complicated and the extra effort is not justified unless the wines are expensive (most if not all of greater value than your Wine Wall ticket).