As you may have already guessed, the short answer to this question is a loud, resounding YES!! (Like how we set that up?)
You’re probably wondering, “Why can’t I just ask a board member or colleague to host, emcee or auctioneer for little to no cost?” Well, I don’t blame you for asking, but I want to tell you some major factors why hiring a professional fundraising emcee or auctioneer is something you should definitely consider.
Build That Connection Quickly
Firstly, a professional fundraising emcee is trained to interact and connect effortlessly with people. You want an emcee that is engaging and will make your audience feel comfortable. The auctioneer or emcee is the face of your event, be it physical or virtual, and the direct link between your audience and your organization. Having these skill sets will play a huge role in how your fundraising event is delivered and how it is being received by your supporters. In some cases, the emcee is also the one asking for monetary support. Therefore, building trust and rapport as quickly as possible is crucial to the success of your fundraising efforts.
Charismatic Energy Is Vital
Finding an emcee who has the ability to liven the room just through his or her charisma and charm is a vital characteristic of a great emcee, auctioneer and host. This might seem pretty common sense, but you know the saying about common sense nowadays. There are certain individuals who just have that positive, uplifting energy you feel before you even talk to them. And then when you do talk to them, you feel like you’ve known them for years after just a few minutes. THIS is what you want from your emcee! In addition to having an extroverted personality, a great emcee can also read the room and respond to the energy level in that moment. Of course you don’t want a monotone snooze initiator on stage, but you also don’t want someone that seems as if they just downed three Red Bulls either. (We do not advise doing this) Knowing when to be an eccentric entertainer while also being able to gracefully transition to an earnest tone throughout the program is key. This is what will keep your guests locked in and fully engaged in your event.
Be A Great Story Teller
The mark of a true fundraising emcee is the ability to captivate an audience through storytelling. We as humans love to be entertained with a magnetizing message – using skills such as emotion, passion, smiling (yes, smiling is a skill), voice inflection, humor, silent pauses, and delivery – just to name a few. It is his or her job to lead your guests, while keeping them fully engaged throughout the entirety of the event. While emails, social media posts, programs, storyboards, and word of mouth are all great ways of promoting your event, it is the emcee’s voice and performance that does so during the actual event. You want to ensure that your guests leave your event knowing the exact message and mission of your organization. Through great storytelling, your guests will go home with that unforgettable experience in their hearts and minds.
Seamlessly Recover & Transition From Any Mishaps
Another testament to a great fundraising emcee or auctioneer is the ability to recover from anything that occurs that isn’t part of the plan. We always do our best to plan and stay ahead of the game, to ensure there are no holes in the execution of a flawless event. However, as much as we try to think about every situation that could happen, we simply do not have the ability to prepare for every unexpected mishap. The slide presentation goes down, the mic stops working, dinner is taking too long to be served, the crowd is being too loud. The list could go on and on forever. An amateur speaker could be thrown off, derailed, or make the situation worse by calling people out. (I’ve been in a room where that has happened and this immediately creates an uncomfortable tension). This can RUIN YOUR EVENT!
However, If something goes wrong behind the scenes, a professional emcee will adapt smoothly, as cool as a cucumber and oftentimes, the audience doesn’t even know there was a mistake. OR, if it’s something that is unavoidably noticeable, a fundraising emcee or auctioneer can address it in such a casual way, usually using a little bit of humor, without making a big deal out of it. Now, what could’ve been a catastrophe, has become nothing more than a little speed bump, and often a highlight, because it was handled so smoothly! How your emcee responds to any unexpected occurrence will either build a stronger level of respect, connection, and trust with your audience, or break it – if not finessed properly.
Avoid Using Internal Personnel
I would be extremely cautious if you are considering using someone from your organization as your fundraising auctioneer, emcee, or host. You might think using someone who is so connected with the organization would be a perfect candidate for a fundraising emcee role. (And usually a more affordable option). However, it usually does more harm than good. Oftentimes, when an internal person takes on this role, they know so much about the organization that they can get too granular when talking about all of the ways the organization makes a difference. You might think they are being informative and educational, but this often leads to information overload and the whole mission of the fundraising event is lost and your guests will check out, which will drastically affect your fundraising.
Furthermore, if the aforementioned are not executed well by someone you hire, it is unfortunate, but you can move on and choose not to work with them again. However, if someone from your organization upsets a major donor, falls flat on delivering the message, or carries the guilt of not hitting the fundraising goal, you cannot just simply part ways after the fundraising event. This can create a Pandora’s box of lingering pressure, stress, and animosity within the organization, that usually comes with an accompaniment of uncomfortable work atmospheres, broken relationships, and, in worst case scenarios, resignations.
I know there are certain situations where you may not have any other option or you may have someone that checks all of these boxes, but I do want you to be aware of what could come from choosing internal personnel as your emcee, auctioneer or host. All things considered, I would avoid it all cost, if possible.
The next time you are organizing an event, we would highly recommend investing in a professional emcee, auctioneer or host who doesn’t sound like a lecturing professor. After all, look at it as if you are putting on a show!! Having the right emcee serves as the glue that will ensure a memorable event for your guests and your organization. Good luck finding the next Ryan Seacrest or Steve Harvey to emcee your upcoming event!