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Going Green at your Event

A lot of organizations are wanting to “go green” at their events and get rid of the printed elements. But is it profitable? Let’s discuss.

I’m a fan of the environment and want to do my part to reduce, reuse and recycle. There are some definite pros to the Green Movement at events, but there are a few cons as well. So, can we meet in the middle? I hope so.


The first place we can get rid of paper is in the silent auction. Hello Online Bidding! Mobile/Online Bidding gets rid of the old pen and paper method of bidding and also all that data entry. We are fans. We should absolutely use this approach for the old school Silent Auction. 

Photo Credit: Greater Giving


Up next, Catalogs! - Well here I have a meet in the middle approach…

Folks really want to get rid of the catalog because it can be a major consumer of the papyrus. Yes, I know. But here is the thing, people need a tangible way to follow along in the Live Auction. If bidders don’t have a reference point, they just don’t bid. The truth is, we have to plan for every type of potential bidder. 

  • For the planner, we can put the items on the mobile bidding platform ahead of the event, and we should so we start to create excitement. 

  • For the more impromptu guest, we can have a PowerPoint with some great imagery and bullet points about the item and we can describe them from the stage. 

However, the almighty catalog provides all the information at the time our bidders are ready to consume that information. Some folks digest the live auction items during the cocktail hour making note of what packages they want. Some folks check it out online and come to the gala with a plan. And the rest of your audience may hear the information for the very first time when it is coming out of your emcee’s mouth and that is when they need to get the details and quick...from the catalog.

“But Kelly, do we really need a whole catalog?”

Well, I would say there are ways to trim the catalog, if you really want to cut it down. I like to recommend a “HOT SHEET” which is just a one pager, it can be front and back, of just the Live Auction items. This way you can get rid of all the other stuff that goes into a catalog if you want to improve on going green. And maybe give just one hot sheet per couple. 

Don’t forget:

  • Auction Guidelines are also important. This is the terms and conditions of your sale written out and put in the hands of each bidder. It’s important so everyone is given the same information when it comes to how the sale of each item is handled.

  • And remember for some events a proper catalog is important to list the menu inclusions so folks know if there are any allergens they need to be aware of. You could still print the menu on a table tent and have one per table rather than a page in every catalog. So that will help a bit. 

Now, if you are hosting an event that is solely focused on an appeal, you are in luck. You can skip the catalog all together! Yay! Just remember when you put your sponsorship packets together you’ll also need to skip print perks.


One place we cannot cut corners on any style event is that everyone needs a bid number. Bid numbers equal the ability to give money. And that is the ultimate goal at your event. (Here are some tips for how to make profitable bid cards.) We can print them on recycled card stock and also collect them at the end of the night to use again next year or recycle. Everyone needs a way to bid and bid numbers need to be separate from your catalog. This will save your auctioneer from wondering if someone is actually bidding or not. After all, we look for numbers in the room and we see them at table top height. If you are reading your catalog, we may think your donors are about to bid. So, let’s keep those separate, please. 


Should we be going green at our events - is it worth it? Yes, of course. Wherever we can trim the need to spend precious resources and money, we should. We just need to make sure we don’t go too far and sacrifice our opportunity to raise money. It’s a balance, friends.

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