Many non profit organizations, charities and schools hold a silent auction as part of a fundraising event or dinner. It can be a great additional way to raise funds while people are enjoying the event.
Before you start planning a silent auction, be aware of these five essential elements of a successful silent auction.
1. A Goal
There are many books related to goal setting silent auction ideas and why it’s important for personal and professional success. Goal setting is just as important when planning a fundraiser. This includes setting goals for the number of attendees, your overall dollars raised and of course goals just for the silent auction.
Decide how many auction items that you want to put on display for bidding. Often it is best to put items into prize bundles or gift baskets, so while you may have 40 donations, those might be bundled into 25 auction items. It just depends on how many and what type of items have been received.
You must have people attend the event in order to get bidders for your auction. It is best to have a whole committee or “go-to” person in charge of publicity and getting RSVPs for the event. Then the silent auction committee can focus on obtaining items and preparing for the auction.
3. Attractive Auction Items
Auction items get bids when they appeal to the interest of the attendees and the bid matches their pocketbook.
With the exception of events that are theme-based such as art auctions, the silent auction should have a wide variety of items. When there are items that appeal to a broad range of interest from wine gift baskets, to travel, to sports tickets, and everything in between – there’s a better chance of attendees finding items to bid on.
4. Items at Variety of Prices
Consider your audience and how much money they would likely be willing to spend on an auction item. Are they likely to bid $5,000 on a travel package? Or should most of your items be in the $25-$100 value range?
This is something that you’ll have to decide based on your demographics, the type of event, and the experience you’ve had with other fundraisers for your group.
In most cases there should be a variety of types of items that fill a range of values. Then attendees are more likely to find something they are interested in at a price they can afford.
You can also use add-on fundraisers like raffles and grab bags to appeal to all interests and give everyone a chance to take something home.
5. Volunteer Support
While silent auctions are good fundraisers because they are low cost, they do require some leg work. Getting the auction items donated, sorted, and displayed can take quite a bit of time. Without volunteers the auction would not even get off the ground!
The actual number of volunteers needed depends on how large the auction is going to be. Even for a small auction, at least two or three dedicated volunteers will need to focus on getting auction items and organizing them. On the day of the auction additional volunteers will help set up the auction, monitor the auction and check out the winners.