Auction Plan

This is how the auction will go down. This post is a wiki, so others can edit it.

First, we’ll actually be having three rounds of auctioning at the event. Two of them happen between performances with two items each, and the third is the big kahuna with the remaining items, including raise the paddle.

There aren’t any physical paddles involved, since we’re using Bidr lets people use their mobile phone as the paddle, and it also handles all the payment processing, shipping information, etc.

There are three roles that need filled:


  1. Be able to quiet the room and engage it in a non-hostile way
  2. Describe items in an alluring fashion
  3. Hold the auction
  4. Start with a gimmick ($5 for $25)
  5. Decide on starting amounts and increments ahead. Not too low in either case! Don’t undersell!
  6. Clearly state the winning bid and bid number so it can be recorded
  7. Hold space for Raise the Paddle
  8. List the levels in a clear way
  9. Wait as all people raise their paddle
  10. Call out each number at a pace that can be recorded
  11. Thank each donor as their number is called

Auctioning off the art items is just like any other auction. Start with a price, try to get it moving upwards.

Raise the Paddle is a bit different. For this one, we’ll start out by asking “who wants to donate $2,000”. Paddles go up, then the auctioneer asks at the $1,000 level. Then $500, $250, etc. we have a number of VIP donors secured in advance at various levels to help break the ice and build momentum.


We need multiple spotters, at least two of them. More is helpful. The spotter’s job is to watch the crowd to see what numbers get raised up. For each auction, except Raise The Paddle, the auctioneer will be calling out prices of the items up for bid and attendees will raise their phone screens in response. Bidr provides a special “paddle number” screen that we’ll instruct attendees to use. Spotters write down, in order, the numbers they see raised up. Multiple spotters ensure that we don’t miss any, as things might move fast. Every number must be written down, in the case where the final winning bidder isn’t able to pay up or something else and we need to fall back to the second place winner. Don’t forget to also write down how much they bid! That’s the whole damn point!!

During Raise the Paddle, spotters are still doing their spotting thing. The difference is that every number ends up paying money based on whatever level the auctioneer has announced. It is crucial that spotters track which numbers they see during which level of bidding, so we don’t end up charging $100 to someone who only jumped in at the $25 level, etc.

Our planted VIP donors won’t have paddle numbers, so spotters can just ignore them during Raise the Paddle; they’ll have already donated and we wouldn’t want to charge them twice.

Auction Wrangler

After each auction is over, the auction wrangler or a volunteer of their designation will punch in the winning paddle numbers to Bidr, which will then charge them and notify the winner. If the winner isn’t available for some reason or can’t pay, we fall back to the second place bidder.

Upon entering someone’s bid, they’ll receive a text message that they’ve won and can pick up their prize somewhere in the space or ask that it be shipped to them in the coming days. If they don’t show up that night, we can still contact them the next day through Bidr to arrange collection.

For the Raise the Paddle numbers, those will be punched in as regular donations, which is a different tab from the auction items.