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In-house silent auction.

In-House Silent Auction

Bringing an event home shows members your support.

Here's a new twist on the silent auction fund-raiser. At the Society of Automotive Engineers International, Warrendale, Pennsylvania, staff threw itself behind an SAE Foundation program called Vision 2000. An educational initiative for students from kindergarten through college, the program aims to ensure the presence of a skilled engineering and technical work force at the turn of the century. Ten separate programs are funded by SAE members and automotive industries worldwide.

To get the staff behind the effort as well, a task force of five employees developed an 11th program: a scholarship for children of employees pursuing degrees in engineering, math, or science. The task force developed scholarship criteria, set the selection process, educated staff on the details of the scholarship, and circulated applications for employees' children.

When it came to raising money for the scholarship, though, the task force felt that a standard appeal for contributions would produce less money than we needed. We wanted something unique to get staff behind the fund-raising drive. So for six weeks the employee task force worked out a silent auction.

All members of SAE's middle and upper management staff were cajoled into offering one-of-a-kind services or products for which the remainder of the staff could place bids. Some managers took more convincing than others, but at the end of six weeks, we had 100 percent participation.

Next came promotion to staff. Our internal graphics employees created a flyer with caricatures of three managers performing some of the tasks up for auction. The flyer went to all employees about 10 days before the event. The task force began to entice employees with bits of information and messages sent via electronic mail, keeping the full list of products and services a secret. After a week, the staff was intrigued and ready to play.

For the two-week bidding period, we used the ASAE silent auction system, posting an individual sheet on each product or service with an estimated value, minimum bid, and incremental bid amount.

Here is a sampling of the types of products or services offered:

* all-day golf outing with fees and meals paid; * fall foliage river cruise on an employee's boat; * chauffeur service to and from work for a week; * preparing a tailgate party; * cross-country ski lessons; * math and science tutoring for junior high students; * dry cleaning pickup and delivery services; * maintenance checkup on car or truck; * fishing trip on Lake Erie; * personalized answering machine message; * teaching juggling; * trading jobs for a day; * handmade Christmas door decoration; and * hand-painted child's toy box.

Every day staff would check their last bids to see who had increased them, and bids went up regularly. On the last day, we had a last-minute surge of bidding.

All of us were surprised by our total of $2,200, which allowed us to award two scholarships this year. We had fun and as a bonus we can now show our member leaders that the staff is firmly behind the foundation's Vision 2000 program.

Next time we'll give ourselves much more lead time to plan, add more members to the task force, and permit the entire staff to offer products and services for which everyone can bid.

Connie Eren is offshore conference administrator for the Society of Automotive Engineers International, Warrendale, Pennsylvania.
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society of Association Executives
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Title Annotation:Good Ideas
Author:Eren, Connie
Publication:Association Management
Article Type:column
Date:Jun 1, 1991
Words:553
Previous Article:The New Realities.
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