Safety + Fundraising = The Revised CET/ThinkTV Action Auction
When the COVID-19 stay at home orders started back in March, we were just six weeks from the original date of the CET/ThinkTV Action Auction. At the time no one knew exactly what 2020 would bring, but we realized quickly that we would need to make some changes. So what all did we have to do in order to host this community event and important fundraiser in the time of a pandemic?
The Date: Although it was the hardest decision to make, moving the auction to June and then to September was actually the easy part. No matter how we do the auction, the event requires at least some staff and volunteers to be in the building. Obviously that wasn’t safe in April and we still didn’t feel comfortable with it in June. Even now that we’re hosting the event in September, we are going out of our way to make sure everyone is masked, sanitized and socially distanced.
The Bidding: For more than 50 years, the auction basically operated in the same way – we’d show you an item, you’d call and place your bids and then after about two minutes, we’d close the boards and call the winner. With the pandemic, we can’t have a phone bank of volunteers or enough auctioneers and emcees to make a 30-hours-on-the-air auction possible. In order to accommodate the new world, we did what some had been asking for for years – we found a system to manage online bidding and changed the on-air portion of the event to more of an item showcase. Luckily we have used this system, called GiveSmart, for a few years for LIVE! on CET’s silent auction, so it wasn’t a stretch, but our staff had to completely overhaul the process in the course of just a few months while also working remotely.
The Studio: On a typical year, we’d have more than 100 volunteers come through the building each night to auctioneer, emcee, run the phone bank, load the tables, run the cameras, handle confirmation, do the back end operations and much more. Our studio is big, but it’s not big enough to have all those people… with online bidding, we will only have four days of live broadcast, one longer shift instead of two and far fewer staff and volunteers in the building. Everyone will be spaced out and masked too.
The Shifts: Rather than have two or three shifts each night, we have shortened the days and asked our staff and volunteers to work the full night. This will allow us to sanitize the work spaces, maintain social distancing and reduce the amount of shuffling throughout the night. We are also implementing some automatic cameras and asking emcees and auctioneers to stay throughout the night for the same reason.
The Food: We know you were wondering… we are so thankful that LaRosa’s has offered to help us out in a new way this year! Rather than have the normal food bar you’re used to seeing, everyone who works the auction this year will be treated to a boxed meal instead. Thank you LaRosa’s!
The items that will be available during the CET/ThinkTV Action Auction will be available to browse starting Monday, August 31, bidding will start the following Monday, September 7, and the live broadcast will start on September 9. Batches of items will close each night, so don’t wait!