Here are some tips for a successful cake auction.
Give cake makers plenty of advance notice so they can plan. Cakes should be nicely decorated. The better a cake looks, the more money it will generate.
Creative designs bring higher bids, such as cakes made to look like a castle, a hamburger, a dessert oasis, a football field, a baseball diamond, an 18-wheel truck, a space ship, a gift-wrapped present, a ski hill, a golf course, a volcano (with dry ice for smoke), a cartoon character, a dollar bill, a guitar, a keyboard, etc.
The more cakes you have to sell, the more money you're going to make. Included with each cake should be a description of the kind of cake and frosting it is made of. The cake pan, or what ever it sits on, should be included with the sale of the cake.
Tickets to the event should be printed before the advertising starts. Advertising should start about 3 weeks before the event, and should include the following:
Tickets should be sold in advance in order to estimate the amount of food needed. The more people who come, the more money the auction will generate. The proceeds from ticket sales should be, at least, enough to cover the food and any other expenses. That means money made from the live auction will be pure profit. Invite the entire family. The children will talk mom and dad into bidding higher.
Before the event, prepare a Guest Register. This is simply a list of bid numbers printed down the side of a page, with a place next to each bid number for the bidder to print his or her name and phone number. It should look something like this:
Provide more than one Guest Register for guests to fill out when they arrive, so they won't have to wait in line.
Provide bid numbers. Purchase some inexpensive, white paper plates. Each bidder will be given a paper plate with a bid number written on it. The bid number will be the one assigned to that person on the Guest Register. Write the number with a wide permanent marker, and big enough so that the auctioneer can read it when displayed from anywhere in the room. Draw a line under numbers that read differently up-side-down. e.g. 18 looks like 81 when displayed up-side-down.
Assign 1 person to act as "greeter". The greeter welcomes guests as they arrive.
Assign 1 or more people to collect and sell tickets at the entrance to the event.
Assign 1 or more people to ask guests to fill out the Guest Register upon arrival, and give guests their bid numbers.
The more pampered your guests feel, the more generous they will likely become.
Before the live auction begins, someone should explain to the audience what the money is going to be used for, so that when people bid, they will bid to support your cause rather than to just get a good deal on a cake.
Assign 2 people to display the cakes during the live auction. (Girls usually work best). They will also take each cake to the successful bidder when the cake is sold.
Assign 1 person to be the clerk during the live auction. When a cake is sold, the auctioneer will announce the bid number of the person who bought the cake and the amount at which the cake sold. The clerk will record that information. To see the name and phone number of the person who bought the cake, match the bid number that the clerk recorded with the bid number on the Guest Register.
Assign 1 or more people to be cashiers. They will collect the money spent on the cakes during, and at the conclusion of the auction. Note: People do not like to wait in lines. The faster you can get guests into the event and then through the cashier's line, the happier your guests will be.
Assign 1 person the be the MC (Master of Ceremonies). The MC makes announcements and introduces the auctioneer. The MC can also describe the cakes. Then the audience will hear 2 voices and see to faces - it will make the auction more interesting. If the MC describes the cakes, it is best to have 2 microphones so the MC and auctioneer don't have to keep handing 1 microphone back and forth.
MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A GOOD SOUND SYSTEM! Be sure it works perfectly BEFORE the event starts. Otherwise, your event is doomed.
Cakes should be displayed so that many people can gather around them. A short description should be attached to each cake. Assign a "cake guard" to discourage children (and certain grown-ups) from touching the cakes.
Dinner ideas: taco salad buffet, potatoes bar, pot luck, build-your-own-hamburger or hot-dog, casseroles, spaghetti, soup and salad bar, etc. It can be buffet style or served to each guest at their tables.
Example agenda for the event:
6:00 – Event begins. All cakes are on display. Guests arrive and register. The emcee welcomes guests at 6:10 and again at 6:20, and invites them to look over the cakes and describes the evening agenda.
6:30 – Dinner begins. It should start on time. Do not serve desert. That way, the cakes will be more appealing.
6:45 – Before dinner ends, conduct your speeches, award ceremony, presentations, etc. Explain to your guests how the money generated from last year's fund-raiser was used, how many people it helped, and how the money raised tonight will be used and how many people it will help. This will give your guests a compelling reason to bid high.
7:00 – Introduce the auctioneer. A skillful auctioneer will make giving fun, which means more dollars raised.