Please resist the temptation to "save" dollars by using an auction company and/or individual that is not specifically skilled in the successful production of a fundraising event. The dollars you "save" will most likely result in a much lower yield for your entire cause.
As most successful events take between 6-12 months to effectively plan and coordinate, it is absolutely essential that you receive the maximum amount of proceeds for the time invested. When you use a "free", "bargain", or "friend of a friend" auctioneer in the majority of cases you get what you pay for. They are usually not individuals that have dedicated their business model towards conducting Benefit and Charity Auctions. They do these types of events as a public service.
There are basically two problems with this "low cost" approach in obtaining Fundraising Auction professionals:
1) Though this is a very admirable donation of their labor, it stands to reason that the time they can commit towards your event will be limited. Their "bread and butter" comes from their other priority business activities. Due to this, they will only be able to provide you with minimal pre-auction assistance and be available just for the day of your event. This is important to keep in mind because the best fundraising success hinges upon the effective preparation and fulfillment of a coordinated fundraising auction plan. If the "auctioneer" you select is only minimally involved with the important planning stages of your event then their financial impact the night of the auction will be minimal as well. This is because fundraising auctions derive 80% of their financial potential from pre-auction preparation and planning with only the last 20% attributed to the skillful production of the event itself.
2) As they are not specifically trained in the techniques of benefit auction logistics or auctioneering, they will tend to sell your items the same way they market their primary specialty. Benefit and Charity Auctions require a completely different approach in auction planning, venue set-up and auctioneering style. Frankly, it takes many years to perfect the best formula for success. The key thing to remember is your guests are looking to be entertained but at the same time feel good to "over pay". It takes a real professional to ensure the best results.