Timing is one of the most important components of an event. The placement of your live auction and/or fund-a-need is critical to its success. I am often asked about “perfect timing” and there is no cookie-cutter answer for a fundraiser because each event is unique.
With that said, I do recommend as a general rule of thumb, the fundraising component of your event should begin no later than 30 minutes after guests have been seated for dinner. If your event is a buffet, the general rule is to begin your fundraising five minutes after the last guest has gone through the buffet. A common mistake is waiting until all guests have finished eating. That is where you lose people to many variables, including the bar.
Regardless of if your event is doing a seated dinner or buffet, there will always be guests who are finished eating before others begin. It is the catch-22 of serving hundreds of people. When people are done eating, they are ready for the next “thing”. If there is nothing going on, the people who were first served, will begin to move to the bar, or worse, leave your event.
By beginning your program and fundraising 30 minutes after dinner service begins, you will be able to ensure more people will stay in their seats. When guests are seated, they are paying attention to your mission and will be more giving to your cause.