Often people resist change. We get comfortable with things being a certain way and the thought of changing can be terrifying. Sometimes, though, we are forced to make changes. Nearly everyone has been forced to change in some way in 2020, both individually and in the way we do business.
We’ve experienced significant change firsthand here at the Chamber. We just wrapped up our 39th Annual Civic Auction. The auction is our primary fundraiser and is an event that has become the social outing of the year for many in Terrell. After 38 successful auctions, we had things running like a well-oiled machine. Each year we knew what we had to do, when we needed to do it and we always pulled it off without any major hiccups. So once the reality began to sink in earlier this year that we may not be able to have our auction in person, I got a bit worried. But we didn’t have time to worry; instead we had to adjust, and we did just that.
For the first time in the 39-year history of the auction, we held it entirely online. Our team began to research and plan for the new format and learning the new online bidding system. Promotion of the auction took on a whole new meaning. Communication became critical because we wanted to be sure our long-time supporters and potential new supporters knew how to get signed up and how to use the online bidding format. We had to photograph each item and be more descriptive of items in order to set bidders’ expectations appropriately. Besides procuring donations, almost everything else about the online format was completely different than what we are used to.
We weren’t sure what outcome to expect. Item donations were down from last year, so we knew it would be impossible to achieve last year’s net revenue, but we were hopeful that we would not be too far off since we knew expenses would be less. We are pleased to report the revenue for the 39th Annual Civic Auction online -- $140,000, just slightly down from last year.
We surveyed our bidders and received very positive feedback about the online format overall. They loved the text notifications received when they were outbid on an item. Some said it was easier than having to remember where items are and hurry around the crowds to rebid on items they are interested in, as they do in the in-person format. Of course, there were some lessons learned, as we knew there would be given we were in uncharted territory.
The feedback has been so positive, in fact, that we are considering a hybrid format next year where bidding in the silent and premier auctions would still take place completely online. The items would still be viewable at the in-person event and there would still be a live auction, but we think this hybrid format would allow bidders to keep up more easily with bids on items they want, while enjoying their dinner and socializing with other guests. It would also allow those who are unable to attend in person to bid on the silent auction items.
Thanks again to our sponsors, supporters, and volunteers. You all are the reason we are able to invest this money back into the community through scholarships, community events, supporting businesses and schools, and more. Sponsors: AutoZone, Film Alley, J.S. Helwig & Son, Madix, Nucor, Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope, Platinum Collection of dealerships, and U-Rent-It. Raffle sponsor: American National Bank of Texas.