How To: Holding a Silent Auction

The art of hosting a silent auction is simple in design but requires a considerable amount of planning to be pulled off correctly. Gathering items for donation, getting volunteers to staff the tables and putting on an event to draw a crowd; these are the building blocks to hosting a silent auction. These fundraisers have an excellent ability to raise money for your organization or cause and with some tips from Organized Chaos your next auction is geared for success:

Auction Items- There is no bigger draw then what is being offered. When looking for donations or preparing to make purchases (not advised, but an option) focus on your crowd. Who are you targeting this fundraiser to? If it’s a group of finance men think of things such as golf outings or quality rare scotch. For a group of successful women try spa packages or a travel get-away. Don’t aim for that donation for a trip toDubaiif it doesn’t fit for your target. One seemingly amazing donation to you may be a dud if its not of interest to your guests.

Item Placement- ‘Location, Location, Location’ to quote any real estate agent. Item location is just as important as the item itself. Where will items get the most recognition therefore increasing its chance of getting a bid. Consider putting some items near the check-in line to draw attention from guests as they wait to get a ticket or check-in to your event. If you’re hosting a reception, try to avoid keeping everything tucked against the wall; remember ‘out of sight, out of mind’. Showcase your flashy items or your large items to draw in bidders and then support those items with additional offerings.

Item Descriptions- think like a marketer. Each description should include what it is, what purpose it serves, what is included, what is unique, what it would retail (Realistically) and any limiting details. Try to do this is a captivating manor that makes people want your item. If you planned ahead, the item should already appeal to them, now seal the deal with colorful language that puts the reader in the position of “Were this mine…” but keep it short, make it to long and you lose the moment.

Item Display- don’t always rely on a basket. I have been to so many silent auctions where the organization just packaged the items into baskets. While this is simple and it helps bundle items try taking a few items to the next level. If you have clothing pieces, try showcasing them on a mannequin. If you have art then try some lighting. Try to showcase items in a way that they might be enjoyed. ‘How does that Gucci blouse hang?’ is a question a bidder will ask themselves, so show them.

Showcase the big, bundle the small. I have seen two major errors committed with this rule. First, if you have a bunch of smaller donations, consider bundle those that share a theme. Many times I have seen auctioneers’ trying to auction off individual smaller pieces, doing this makes the auction look cluttered and ultimately won’t score you as many bids as your hoping for. Bundling smaller items gives the collective a better chance at getting a higher bid rather than many smaller chances for smaller bids. Second, I have seen other auctioneers’ make the opposite mistake and bundle too many of the bigger pieces together. Do you have a donation for a flight and travel luggage? While it might seem second nature to put the two together, each has a good chance of drawing large individual bids.

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