Part I: Auction Preparation
Why all of the fuss over the auction?
It’s the biggest fundraiser for UUCV, raising over $12,000 annually, an amount that is essential to meet our budget needs. It’s also our most important social event of the year, held on the first or second Saturday of November.
Where is the auction held?
It’s held in the social hall, although you probably won’t recognize it. Our many talented artists work for months to create a festive environment to match the theme, and it’s always great fun to see how the space has been transformed. We also use the sanctuary for check-in and check-out.
What is auctioned off?
Events and items offered by our members and friends, as well as donations from local merchants. Sign-ups are the KEY part of the auction, as they raise the most funds and are fabulous ways for folks to get to know each other better. Hikes, dinners, parties and lessons are examples of group events or services, and each is offered at a set price. Quality individual items are also offered, and these are bid up, typically via a silent auction process on paper. Sometimes we use an auctioneer for special or big-ticket donations, such as the use of vacation home or valuable artwork. One final category is the Wishing Well, which allows you to state a service you’d like to have, and what you’ll pay to receive it. For example, you could say you’d pay $50 for someone to spread mulch for three hours, and hopefully some energetic person will sign up to do this task for you. (You’d pay the $50 to UUCV for this.)
Why do you ask for donations so early?
It takes quite some time to compile all of the data, including writing up details about each event and formatting them for later online and in-print viewing. Booklets are made available for pick-up at least by the Sunday prior to the auction.
What if I can’t think of anything to donate?
Check with one of our volunteers staffing the table, or feel free to review one of the many prior booklets. Again, the best donations are sign-ups. (Many people plan their social life around UUCV auction events, both ones they offer and those for which they sign up! ☺)
How else can I help besides submitting donations and perhaps later bidding on them?
We always need volunteers to provide food and adult beverages, help with administrative tasks, displaying the items or helping to decorate, setting up and tearing down, helping with the kids’ program, and many other tasks. Check the poster for opportunities or chat with the auction coordinator. At a minimum, be sure the auction date is on your calendar and consider bringing a friend or two with you.
Why is there a registration fee? And what’s the value of registering early?
The fee helps offset the costs of the event in general, and certainly is a small payment for the great ambiance and, of course, the company of other UUs! By registering early, you will avoid the check-in lines that evening and be able to bid, socialize and enjoy the other amenities right away.
Aside from planning to bid and socialize, what else should I know about attending the auction?
Consider dressing up to match the theme, as that makes the whole evening more fun! (You’ll likely be featured in more photos if you come in costume, as typically we run a PowerPoint presentation of the captured images to view during check-out.) Also, we’ll have a special theme-centered photo area with extra props to make your evening even more memorable. You’ll have access to some delicious appetizers, dessert and entertainment, all donated by our members and friends. Adult beverages, also donated, will be available for a suggested donation.
Rats! I have something else scheduled on auction night. Is there any way I can still participate?
For sure! Please have a friend be your Bidding Buddy. Just provide her/him with a list of the items and events you’d like along with the maximum bid for each/all along with a payment method. S/he will get a bidding number for you and bid accordingly, and UUCV records will reflect your name on the purchases.
Part II: AT THE AUCTION
I preregistered, so do I have to wait in line at the doorway?
Nope! That’s the value of paying your entry fee beforehand. Skip the check-in lines and note your name to the person in the hallway who will provide you with a bidding number. Only those who did not preregister and/or would like to register their credit card need to visit the check-in tables.
Is there anything special I should know about the bidding process?
Use only the bidding number you’re assigned upon entry. One number can be used for both members of a couple, but be sure to list that number TWICE if you both wish to attend the same sign-up event. When bidding on silent auction items, be sure to note the increment listed on each bidding sheet. Also, if an errata/addenda sheet is offered, please review this for both corrections to dates/times as well as additional items in which you may be interested.
In my auction booklet I see the sign-ups listed in three rounds with differing schedules. Why is that, and how will I know which round is being offered?
By separating the sign-up items into three groups (with about 20-30 minutes between them), we can finalize each group separately. This allows the administrative volunteers to key the list of winners into the database, and helps us expedite the check-out process. The emcee will announce the rounds, and you’ll also see auction helpers removing one set of sheets and replacing them with the next.
How will I know if I was successful in bidding for a silent auction item?
At the close of the silent auction (or the end of a sign-up round), auction volunteers will mark the bid sheets as to who the winners are. This information will be keyed into the system and your personal wins will be listed on an invoice at check-out.
The sign-up item I want had more people listed than the host indicated. How will that over-capacity be resolved?
If the host of this sign-up event is present and notes that s/he will allow the extra, then all who have signed up will be winners. If not, auction volunteers will put all of the names into a hat and draw for the proper number. (Couples will not be split up.)
What about the raffle tickets?
Raffle tickets in the amounts of $5-25 will be sold during the evening; the winning ticket will be drawn after the close of the silent auction. The winner will get double the percentage if present and the face amount if not. For example, a $15 ticket will garner 30% of the total collected if the winner is still there, and 15% if not.
When do I pay for my items?
Check-out begins approximately 30-45 minutes after the close of the auction. We must key in all winning bids from all parts of the auction first to ensure our records are complete before this part begins. Entertainment is provided in the social hall and/or the sanctuary during this time, and it’s also an opportunity to socialize a bit more with your UUCV friends. When ready to pay for your items, file into the sanctuary and fill in the main pews from front to back. Check-out will occur in that same order, which will allow you to sit and relax until it’s your row’s turn.
What is the payment process? Can I pay with a credit card?
First, announce your bidding number so the check-out manager know whose record to check, and hand in the card. You’ll be provided with two copies of your invoice to review for accuracy. Ask about any missing or extra listings and we’ll check our records. When all is correct, retain one copy and return the other for UUCV records. Proceed to the proper table to pay by cash, check or credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover and Amex).
What if I can’t stay until the very end of the auction to pay?
Just choose one of two ways to resolve this issue. If you’re paying by check or cash, enlist the help of Check-out Buddy, a person you choose to pay your invoice. But if you’d like to pay by credit card and avoid the wait for checkout, complete our new credit card authorization form at sign-in. We will bill that card for your purchases once our records are complete and email you the receipt. Just be sure to hand in your bidding number to your Check-out Buddy or the admin team before you leave.
When do I pick up my auction items?
Please take them home auction night, unless it’s essential that other arrangements are made (such as for an oversize item). We want to be sure you get what you purchased in perfect condition!
FAQs Part III: POST-AUCTION INFO
Will there be a chance to bid on items or events AFTER the auction?
Sign-up items that were not sold out on auction night will be listed on a bulletin board and/or promoted through PreViews. If interested in any of them, contact Pam at the UUCV office to request inclusion, and then either mail a check or deposit one in the collection basket, listing UUCV Auction #XXXX in the memo area. Particularly if the event is coming up soon, it wouldn’t hurt to contact the host to ensure the communication link has been established. As for silent auction items, we typically place those on the stage in the social hall with a sheet, extending the bidding period by a few more weeks.
How will I know which sign-ups I received?
The invoice you received when checking out lists all of the events you bought, as well as the number of places. As to details about the event, the auction catalog (and perhaps an errata/addenda sheet) is always a good reference; suggest marking them on your personal calendar for future reference. Your host will contact you by phone or email when the date draws near, as this information is on the set of records sent to them. Please don’t hesitate to contact the host if you are concerned!
When do I find out who has signed up for my event, and what do I do next?
The check-out manager will send you a sheet with the list of all of paid attendees for your event and their contact information. Your responsibility as the host is to contact each person prior to the date; at least three weeks before is great. Please be sure to receive confirmation that your communication has been received. It’s essential that you verify receipt of this contact; please do not assume that s/he has received your email, voicemail or snail mail, as machines malfunction and things sometimes get lost. (Although the winning bidders do receive a list of all that they purchased, their invoice does not include the host’s contact information.) Prompt communication for events coming up soon (Nov-Dec-Jan) is particularly important.
I’m a host, and now I have to change the date/time, or perhaps even cancel for this year. Now what?
Please contact your guests right away and propose the alternate date/time. If you included a rain/snow date on your write-up, hopefully this will suffice. If not, aim to find a mutually agreeable date for all involved, even if it must be scheduled months away. If most, but not all, can attend on the new date, work to include the missed person at another one of your events or plan to include her/him when you offer a similar event next year. You also could provide this person with your spot at a different event you purchased. Since UUCV does not provide auction purchase refunds, we’re counting our participating members and friends to work out mutually agreeable and fair solutions.
What if my schedule changed and now I can’t make it to a sign-up event?
Please do contact your host right away, as the host may already know of someone who wants to attend and would be willing to buy your spot. Offer your spot to a friend and/or just consider it a donation. Your host might invite you to another event s/he is offering later that year or even in a future year.