The Importance of Diversity – A Little Lesson Learned

I would like to share a story with you I call the “Christmas Wreath Incident”. I call it an incident rather than an auction because “incident” is a much more accurate description. Working with clients is a two way street for TBBA. We interview potential clients just as much as they interview us. We do this because we want to make sure we can really help each organization. When the “Christmas Wreath Incident” happened, I had interviewed the organization just as I always do. On paper, the client was a good client. They had all of the right components. As a team, we discussed their auction, the timeline, the food, the guests, the items they would be selling. And the items part is where things went wrong. Really wrong.

I knew I was going to be selling Christmas items to support their Christmas theme. Very long story short, on auction day I showed up and the live auction items were lined up and well presented. At first I was so proud because the client executed the set-up just as I instructed them. But then I started to look closer. And the closer I looked, the more I began to think “Oh no…”

To my big surprise, each item in the live auction was a Christmas Wreath. Many of them looked a lot alike. To make matters more complicated there were 30 of them.

I could go on and on about what happened next, but those details are not the point of the lesson. The lesson here is that as an organization, the importance of an auction or event is not to sell a bunch of items that are identical to your theme. What I did take away from the “incident” is the important of diversity. Many organizations like their live and silent auctions to mirror their cause. For example, theater groups like to have lots of theater

type of items, art groups like to have lots of art, and the list goes on.

Your goal of the auction is to raise money and therefore, you need to have a variety of items in a variety of price ranges. Many of your guests may not be directly involved in your cause and even though they come to show their support, the cause’s “thing” may not be their “thing”.

So back to the “Christmas Wreath Incident”, I will be honest and say the auction did not go all that well. The first few wreaths did sell well but after those were sold, audience participation became limited. A lot of people didn’t want a wreath and therefore didn’t bid. People come to your events because they want to participate, they want to be seen participating, they want to show support, but at the same time, they want to bid on items they like and will enjoy. A good auction should have diversity and a little bit for everyone.