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Live Auctions: How To Light Your Fundraising Event For Maximum Profits

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charity auctioneer kelly russell

Whenever people go to see a play, before the show, the audience sits in their seats chatting with their friends. As the lights start to dim, conversations stop, and when it’s dark, everyone focuses on the stage.

Oh, the show must be getting ready to start!

The stage lights come up, the audience instinctively turns their heads to the brightest spot, and the story begins. There may not be any other type of announcement because even subtle shifts in lighting make a HUGE impact on an audience.

When you’re putting on a benefit auction, lighting can also have a HUGE impact on your bottom line.

Bad lighting may be sabotaging your entire event! But it’s super easy to fix.

Lighting silently tells an audience where to focus and when to talk.

stage lights

Our eyes are naturally attracted to wherever is the brightest.

If you have a speaker up onstage, and they’re not lit very brightly, but instead your dining room is the brightest area, your crowd is going to keep on chatting because...

The lighting is giving them permission to focus on the dining room and keep talking.

If you put the brighter light on your speaker and keep the house lights low, your audience is more likely to focus their attention to the person on stage.

What you never want to do is give your crowd permission to disengage just because of the lighting.

Don’t be shy about talking to your Audio/Visual Team about lights.

AV isn’t only responsible for sound, they handle both sound and lighting to ensure that your guests stay focused.

Benefit auctions are a little bit different than theatre because often the auctioneer needs to both see the crowd and give them enough light to participate.


During the Live Auction Bidding:

House lights need to be bright enough for the auctioneer to see our beautiful donors and bidders. This is also the portion of the night where it’s okay for the crowd to be a little bit rowdy and chatty.

During the Special Appeal or Fund-A-Need Video/Story:

Dim the house lights and refocus the crowd on the Speaker so that they may share their story in silence.

After The Video When Collecting Appeal Gifts:

Bring up the lights so the Benefit Auctioneer can see your donors’ faces again.


Some Additional Tips:

1. ALWAYS CHECK THE RAFTERS before choosing your lighting setup.

When planning your room layout, remember that in some buildings, especially older ones, you may need to reserve some floor space so a lighting tower can be brought in.

If the venue isn’t able to hang lights from the rafters, you’ll need to work with AV to find a good solution.

2. NEVER USE A FOLLOW SPOT at a Benefit Auction.

Spotlights will temporarily blind your auctioneer, and they won’t be able to read any bid numbers. Not cool.

3. BRING A SMALL DESK LIGHT to shine on the clerking or recorder’s table so they can clearly see their paperwork.

4. You can TRANSFORM ANY ROOM inexpensively by using uplights along the perimeter for a splash of color on the walls or columns.

stage lights and microphone

Lighting can make or break any event, so be sure to consider the impact your lighting choices will have on your event’s success.

Now, let’s go raise some money!

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