The Auction Team was delighted East Shore’s 2020 auction achieved its goal of raising over $21,000 towards the church’s Operating Fund, and established a special COVID Food Relief Fund of more than $20,000.
Since this was the first year that the auction had ever been held entirely online, we invited members to give us their feedback, and 28 people responded. Most people felt very positive about the auction, the software and the way that the event was run. A few people had some technical difficulties and there was quite a learning curve for some, but this should get easier in future years as people become more familiar with the software. The biggest complaint was that we couldn’t get together in person, which is totally understandable. There was also some concern about the last-minute change to the closing time of the silent auction which led to some confusion and frustration especially among those not participating in the Zoom event. We will ensure that doesn’t happen in the future.
From the Auction Team’s perspective, the biggest benefit of holding the event online was not having to produce and print a catalog (and addendum) or bid sheets, not having to enter all the data from the bid sheets, and not having to conduct an audit to catch all our errors on the Sunday afterwards. This saved us a ton of work, and we would love to retain this benefit in future years, if possible.
Looking ahead to next year, it’s obvious that members missed getting together, so we will definitely hold an in-person event in 2021, COVID permitting. However, we’d really like to keep the best of both worlds, and not go back to exactly how the auction was run in previous years. In particular, the ability of people to participate remotely enabled those who live too far away, are unable to drive at night, or have childcare responsibilities, to join in the fun for the first time.
That, plus the administrative advantages of running the auction online, means we are considering running it online indefinitely. While this is just an idea at this point, we’re envisaging a single event in the Sanctuary with a light buffet meal plus wine service offered along one wall, a display of the physical items on offer on the other wall, and everyone mingling together while bidding on their cellphones or tablets. Those who don’t have their own smartphone or tablet could borrow one for the evening, and those needing extra support could get assistance from volunteers to ensure that they could bid, and of course, people who are unable to attend in person could also participate.
We would probably still have some items that are promoted and bid upon in a “live” fashion, with the auctioneer and MC bringing those to your attention and projecting them on the big screen. But for the most part, everyone could participate, whether they are interested in the live items or not, as the silent auction would continue throughout. In the past we’ve received feedback that having two events, one in Spring Hall and the other in the Sanctuary, meant some people felt like second-class citizens for not being able to participate in the live auction. Combining the event into one big event would eliminate this problem, and enable us all to be together. We would ensure that the ticket price for this event was affordable to everyone as well.
We are sharing these ideas now, to get a head start on everyone thinking about how the auction could be different; so please do let me know if you have any questions or thoughts about this concept.
I’m very grateful to this year’s team of trusty volunteers—Nancy Bissell, Wenda Collins, Rachel Herbert, Craig Nelsen, Lori Saccardi, Jim Shuman, Mike Stunes and Beth Wilson— who did a fantastic job. While many of them wish to continue next year, fresh faces are always welcome. Since there’ll likely be food and wine involved, we will definitely be looking for more volunteers to assist in 2021, so let me know if you’d like to get involved.
by Amanda Strombom, Auction Chair