So You're Thinking About Hosting a Con...

How to Put on a Beauty and the Beast Convention

updated 2019.1.16


Start asking for donations as soon as you start announcing the con – it’s never too early. You will need to ask again and again. Consider donating items from your collection to raise funds for the charity via charity auction. You may have a duplicate of something which another fan would love to own. [By the way, autographed photos no longer command a lot of money.]

You should try to have at least 20-25 CON-OWNED items of varying price points to offer for auction, so everyone can get in on the bidding. For most items, the rarer or more unusual the item, the better. Try to keep everything (or most things) B&B-related. Make sure you pull the items from storage and line them up so they are easily accessible during the auction, to keep things moving.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a charity auction, so fans expect that all items they’re bidding on will generate funds for the charity. It is therefore not recommended that you take any fan’s individually own item which they wish to sell and put it in the charity auction. On rare, extremely rare, incredibly rare occasions, for an item that is SO hard to find (like a B&B chess set), an exception is made, with the fans being made specifically aware that only X% (at least 15%, unless the seller will give more) of the winning bid goes to the charity. But this hardly ever happens, nor should it, or it dilutes the concept of the charity auction.

Several fans who usually attend our cons are excellent auctioneers. You may wish to ask one or two to assist you in advance or (even better!) run the auction for you. If that can’t be done, and you’re doing it yourself (not advisable, given all you have to do behind the scenes)… be energetic when auctioning items. Make sure you have a helper or two to walk the items around so fans can see them up close, which helps generate competition. One idea is to have photos of the items on a thumb drive so they can be put up on the big screen, making it easy for fans to see what’s being auctioned.

If you are auctioneer, have someone you trust sitting at a table taking down the winning bid amount and winning fan for all auction items. Ideally, you’d have two helpers doing this. They should provide whomever is going to be taking money post-auction with the list. Ideally, they’d have grouped each fan’s winning bids together to make receipt writing easy.

Fans should either pay as they win an item, or run a tab and wait until the auction is over to pay. You can’t handle payments yourself while up on stage running the auction.

If you have an auctioneer, you can do the bid recording yourself, although it’s still very useful to have someone else help you do this.

If a helper can physically group all the items won by one particular fan together, that makes pick-up later very simple.

Prior to the con, decide which CON-OWNED items you will auction and in which sequence you will auction them – insert some lower-priced items in with the higher-priced ones. Do a little write-up for each item identifying the item and listing a starting bid. This will assist you if you are the auctioneer – less to remember, and if you have a fan or guest auctioneer, this will be useful for someone not familiar with your items.

If you have a guest auctioneer, help that person by bringing items to him/her and taking them from him/her to hand to your walk-around helper. The guest auctioneer also may need help identifying bids, keeping track of the highest bid, and especially identifying the winning bidder so that the person tracking sales can write the information down.

Some fans who will want to “donate to the auction” don’t really understand what that means. You may have to explain the difference between the Charity Auction and the Art Auction, or between the Charity Auction and the Silent Auction, as well as what kinds of things go to the auctions vs. the dealers room or art show. If someone sends you a box of items “for auction,” don’t assume that it contains donations, or that the items are meant for the Charity Auction. Confirm with those sending or bringing you items “for auction” what they mean by that. Most times, if they want an item auctioned rather than straight-out sold, they will be fine with the Silent Auction process, where the owner is identified on the bid sheet.

You should have at least two people ready to take payments during and especially after the auction.   
When accepting Paypal payments, have fans select that it is a “personal” transaction to avoid paying a transaction fee.

If at all possible, volunteer at the con or two before yours to help with the auctions. There is no substitute for experience, and apprenticing yourself is a perfect way to learn the ins and outs of this, and all portions of the con.