The silent auction is about to close and guests are ready for dinner. Are your speakers prepared? Is your emcee ready to go? How will you keep the energy up throughout the program?

Before planning the program for your guild’s next event, review the tips below to make it as meaningful and effective as possible.

Feature a Patient

Hearing about Seattle Children’s directly from a patient or family is one of the best ways to tell the story behind what your fundraisers supports. A compelling patient testimonial immediately answers the “Why should I donate?” question. As you’re working with the family prior to the event, keep in mind that not everyone is comfortable with public speaking. Be sensitive to the patient’s health and well-being; have a backup plan, just in case your speaker is unable to attend or becomes uncomfortable with speaking. Also, consider having your emcee interview the patient or family member instead of asking them to give a speech.

Involve the Patient in Various Ways

The Focus on Kids Laboratory Guild invited its featured patient speakers to call out raffle winners and bid numbers during the raise the paddle. “The patients were so cute that more people raised their paddle just to hear them say their number,” says Miracle House Guild member Mary Jo Foseid, who attended the event. Ask the patient how they would like to be involved; the speaker at the Preston Kuppe Guild’s luncheon chose to stay on the stage during most of the program to say thank you as people donated or purchased an auction item. You can also “match” a patient and a local artist before the event and ask them to collaborate on an artwork for your auction, as the Imagine Guild has done.

Show the Impact of a Gift

In addition to sharing a patient story, think about what other things will be compelling to your audience. Would it be meaningful to share statistics about patients served in your community? Or about Seattle Children’s national expertise? We can provide facts and stats about the hospital, the research institute and specific programs.

Invite an Expert

In addition to hearing from a patient or family member, it can be important for guests to hear from a doctor, nurse or researcher. Contact us well in advance of your event, and we can work with you to identify a Seattle Children’s expert who is available to participate.

Prep Your Auctioneer and Emcee

Make a special version of your auction catalog for your auctioneer. Highlight key things about each item and add notes such as how much money it should sell for, who may be interested in it and whether it can be doubled. Also, if the donor of the auction item is in the audience, make sure the auctioneer acknowledges them. If you are including a raise-the-paddle, give your auctioneer and emcee enough information about which Seattle Children’s program the raise-the-paddle funds will benefit so they can speak to the need throughout the program.

Huddle Up Before the Event

It’s amazing how fast your plans can change on event day! Before the program starts, organize a quick huddle with your event chair, auction chair, auctioneer and emcee. Make sure everyone is on the same page about key details or any program changes.

Mix It Up and Keep It Moving

Plan for ways to keep the audience engaged throughout the entire program. Work with your auctioneer or emcee to sell raffle tickets, and consider adding a gift-card frenzy or dessert dash. Share a compelling video about the hospital or research institute; we can help you identify video options.