2016 Auction (Looking Ahead to 2017)

by Dale Kerester, Auction Chair

Thank you.  To our generous sponsors, donors, and youth volunteer groups, and most of all to you – our wonderful Lions members, we say thank you. Putting on a six hour live televised broadcast is no easy feat.  Lots of planning.  Lots of hard work.  Lots of moving parts.  Lots of challenges. 

Once again, you rose to the occasion and overcame the challenges.  We had one of our most successful auctions ever – netting over $21,000 of funds for eye research and the local community causes that we hold dear.  But that is only one measure of your success.  Sometimes great success comes from great challenges.  Having the telephone system cut out right at crunch time certainly was a challenge, but you worked together, with grace and aplomb, to overcome and take us to the finish line. 

The Auction is so much more than raising funds.  The Auction represents the best of Easton – our young boy scouts and girl scouts, high school students, parents, friends, Lions members, and local business owners working hand in hand for one purpose – to help those who need our help.  A beautiful thing.

On the technical side, we made some improvements this year that seemed to work well. For example, ECAT improved and made greater use of an electronic auction board to give viewers more up to date information about the high bids for each item.  And let us know take for granted the incredible auction software developed by Huy Vu – the engine that makes it all work. 

Can we do better next year?  You bet, and we have already started working on just that.  Your trusty Auction Team met on April 11 and have identified a variety of potential changes for next year to make our Auction even better.  Here is a sampling of the changes that we are considering:

  • Items. Only items valued at $100 or more will be auctioned off on live television.  (Those items that are valued at less than $100 will be auctioned off on our auction website – allowing bidders to submit bids throughout the weeks leading up to the auction and closing on the day of the live auction.)  In this way, we can shorten the auction from six to four hours, better focus our efforts, and generate some interest in the weeks leading up to the auction.
  • Solicitations.  Courtesy of Matt Cioffi’s hard work, we are sending thank you letters to our donors which allow the donors to return a card confirming a donation for next year.  We will also target certain donations much earlier so that we can start promoting the Auction as early as the summer of 2016.  We are also working to make it easier for our solicitors and donors to submit the donations without having to “reinvent the wheel” each year.  For example, we expect to provide solicitors with copies of the donation form from the prior year for each donor on his or her list.
  • Emergency Planning.  We recognize the need to prepare emergency back up plans so as to better help us navigate through emergencies.
  • On-screen updates.  We hope to add some screen feeds and auction website updates during the broadcast that better identify for the viewers/bidders the winning bid amount for each item so as to reduce (and hopefully eliminate) any bidder confusion.
  • Videos.  We hope to prepare some short videos that let our viewers know about the good work of the Easton Lions and how they too can help us help others.
  • Guidance.  We need to give better guidance to all of our volunteers but especially to those brave enough to get in front of the cameras.  We pledge to provide guidance sheets and a training session in the week prior to the auction.
  • Scripts.  We are asking our script writers to provide our presenters with three versions of scripts for each item (the initial presentation, a shorter recap, and a much shorter final sell off) that will help us stay on schedule.  We are preparing a template of these three versions to help guide our script writers.
  • Infrastructure.  We are considering our options for the best location for the auction, including identifying the facility/location that provides the best infrastructure for our technical needs (including the phones and the broadcast).

We not only welcome but want and encourage your ideas and your feedback.  Please, let us know what you think by sending us an email to auction@eastonlions.org.

Better yet, please join us at our next auction planning meeting on May 23 at 7pm at the VFW.  It’s never too early to get to work on the 2017 Auction!  A summary of the April 11th meeting and an agenda for the May 23 meeting will be distributed to all members before the meeting.

By the way, rumor has it that we have already secured a commitment for a donation of a car for the 2017 Auction – stay tuned!!