One of our favorite revenue enhancement additions to fundraising auction events is the Golden Paddle. Simply put, the Golden Paddle is a chance drawing to win a credit that is good only in the live auction. The credit is represented by a golden paddle that the winner uses to bid with in the auction – letting the auctioneer and everyone else in the crowd know who they are and what they are up to.
I’ll try to make this more clear by way of an example: sell 100 tickets for $100 each, generating $10,000 for your event. Take $5,000 immediately off of the top, and apply it towards your proceeds for the evening – that’s pure profit. Take the other $5,000 and apply it to the Golden Paddle – you aren’t losing this money, you’re just making sure it is spent in the auction.
This doesn’t just generate $5,000 for your event, it has the potential to generate a new bidder who can help drive the prices up on lots of other items. At the very least, it adds to the amount an existing bidder is willing to spend. We’ve seen lots of people who won the Golden Paddle immediately “get it” and use their windfall to bid lots of other people up in the live auction. When this happens, you wind up making a lot more than just the $5,000 they have to spend – because they increase the price on multiple items.
You shouldn’t set the Golden Paddle amount to be higher than the amount typically spent on any one item in your event. You don’t want your big bidders to be priced out by someone who spent $100 and got lucky. You also don’t want your Golden Paddle winner to dominate the auction and buy a large percentage of the items. You want someone to be able to push your big bidders up to their limits, and possibly buy one high-end item or two low-level ones.
So crunch the numbers and alter the metrics to work best with your event. We’ve seen Golden Paddles raffles where 100 tickets were sold at $50 each and the paddle had a credit of $2,500 on it. Alter the numbers to best fit the culture of your event.
There are just a few things to note. The winner must be present to win. The paddle is only good in the live auction – and sometimes the fund-a-need, depending on whether or not you want to funnel the money towards that restricted bucket of funds.
And finally, make sure the actual Golden Paddle is very flashy. Have your craftiest volunteer or staff member create it, challenge them to come up with something so over the top that it can’t be ignored. We advocate LED lights, sequins, glitter, gold paint – whatever they can come up. So that way, every time your Golden Paddle winner bids the whole crowd knows – and thinks to themselves, “Next year, I’m going to win that Golden Paddle!”