Silent Auction Ideas To Raise More Money
A silent auction can be a great source of revenue for many charities and fundraisers. Some charities run silent auctions with limited success, while other schools, fundraisers and charities run silent auctions with a far greater return. What’s the difference? I am going to give you the top 12 ways to have a very successful silent auction that maximizes fun, efficiency and revenue.
Getting Great Silent Auction Items
You must first acquire great silent auction items before anyone can even bid on them. Create a silent auction donation form fact sheet that explains who your charity is with a simple tear off sheet on the bottom indicating you are a non-profit and your tax ID number. Then give out at least two of these silent auction donation forms to every volunteer, staff, committee member and friend involved with your silent auction or charity. Ask each person to speak to a manager at the places they makes purchases everyday (i.e. salon, coffee shop, grocery store, restaurant) while the purchase they made and receipt of purchase is in hand. As a customer, they have earned the right to be heard and most companies will give them a gift card or free item to contribute to your silent auction. If you are looking for additional free items for all your silent auctions send me an email or call 720-329-8626 and I can help you out. If you want to add a few great 100% no risk consigned auction items click this link.
Advertise Your Fundraiser & Auction Items Before The Event
Not only should you be marketing your event through email blasts, your websites, Facebook, Twitter and all other possible places, don’t forget to highlight and market different one of a kind, special and unique items to potential guests prior to your event. This will give you more opportunities to talk up and post about your event on an ongoing basis.
Organize, Track & Document Your Silent Auction Items
When getting auction items in. Be sure to have one room with everything laid out to start tracking who donated them, where they came from and all the small fine print like expiration dates etc. Also, if you feel you have to many items for the amount of guests that will be attending your fundraiser package similar items together.
Dividing Silent Auction In Sections & Value
Dividing your silent auction in 3-5 separate sections will make it more simple for your staff at check out. Closing it in bite size amounts, creates a sense of focus and urgency towards your silent auction and raises more money. Just make sure you close each section with the lowest valued items first and gradually move up. Also, in order for a silent auction with separate sections to work properly you must have distinct differences between each section. Consider different color table cloths or different color balloons for each section. Another great idea is to have something on the silent auction bid sheet that indicates the section as well (i.e. blue bid sheet or a blue backed paper bid sheet). Remember to make the closing times crystal clear by displaying them on each table and on display boards near check in. You cannot over emphasize this.
Volunteers Stationed At Every Silent Auction Table & Section Is A Must
Keep at least a minimum of one volunteer at every silent auction table. A good rule of thumb is to have one volunteer cover every 15 items. Each volunteer should read each item they are covering and be ready to motivate bidders and also answer any questions guest might have about the items they are covering. This will help your silent auction raise even more money. The volunteers will also be able to eliminate a huge problem many silent auctions have by picking up the bid sheets immediately after the auctioneer closes that section.
The Best Silent Auction Bid Sheets
If you’re are using mobile bidding software and it works for you then that’s great. However, do know that most of your money should be made off your live auction and appeal when done by a professional benefit auctioneer. Your return on investment for mobile bidding compared to using paper may or may not be profitable. I recommend taking the time to carefully look into each option.
Many silent auction bid sheets have been tried and seeing so many I feel I have developed the best silent auction bid sheet with all the most effective practices available. My silent auction bid sheet is created in Excel so it does all the work and math for you. I follow a 30/10/13 rule on silent auction bid sheets. You will have a few large value items that might not fit in this mold but it should work for most of your silent auction items. If you want a copy contact me here
Using the 30/10/13 rule means starting all items with the first line of the bid sheet at 30 percent of the value of the item. This will get a bidding frenzy going and eliminate unbid items. Each line after should be 10 percent increments rounded up to the nearest dollar pre-printed on the sheet. Do not leave it up to your guests to try and do the math calculations of what the next bid should be. This will also eliminate bidders changing the bidding increments to one dollar or 50 cents. Also having pre-printed amounts of 10 percent increments will get your items up to higher amounts faster. I recommend having 13 lines on each bid sheet with the final line being an Own-It-Now line.
Finally followed by an “own it now” feature at the bottom in a big square bold box at 150 percent of the value of the item. This is great for those who just want to donate, can’t watch a certain item or maybe can’t stay for the entire event.
Don’t Forget Pens
Each bidder sheet should have a pen with the cap off and ready to be used. Remember not to use pencils and be sure to bring plenty of extra pens.
Have A Silent Auction That Looks Appealing & Attracts Bidders
The better it looks the more your gonna get. Consider using extra table cloths and empty free boxes to add depth to your silent auction. Display each item with pictures and a few small props or trinkets purchased from a local dollar store, borrowed or donated. You could even purchase a few from online stores like Oriental Trading Post. Make sure all your silent auction items have a nice display sheet with the donors name, expiration date of item, a catchy name or title. Also, make sure descriptions are simple and not long winded paragraphs. Remember to trim the fat in your silent auction descriptions. Get to the feature and benefits try and use quick bullet points.
Best Silent Auction Location
Not only should your silent auction look appealing and fun but where you place your silent auction will have an impact on the amount it produces. Consider placing your silent auction in the high traffic areas. If you’re having a bar, putting the silent auction near the bar carts is a great location. Avoid placing your silent auction in unused corners. You want to be able to control and corral your guests near the silent auction to gain the highest return – this is easiest in the largest foot traffic area.
Sound System Near Your Silent Auction
Many fundraisers may have a good sound system located where the live auction will be and that’s great. But don’t forget to have fantastic sound located near the silent auction tables as well. You must take advantage of marketing each item every chance you can. Be sure to have your professional benefit auctioneer make announcements at 15 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 minutes and a final 10 second count down for each silent auction section. Your auctioneer should be constantly motivating guests to bid and walking around the tables informing them of fantastic deals. Remember if your guests can’t hear your message (i.e. when the silent auction closes and other important announcements), your event is in jeopardy of losing valuable time and possibly additional money. Round speakers located in the ceiling is not considered a good sound system.
Close Your Silent Auction Down Correctly
A silent auction must be closed before your live auction begins. This will allow bidders to know what they have already won and prevents it from taking the focus away from the other parts in the program. Leaving a silent auction open longer will not translate into more revenue. Two hours is more than enough time to have a successful silent auction. Not closing your silent auction correctly will cause chaos, confusion and loss of revenue.
Thank Your Silent Auction Donors
Be sure to send out thank yous to not only all your guests, but also send a huge thank you to each donor of every auction item. Be sure to let them know how much was raised and how their item was impactful in helping your cause.
If you have any additional questions email me here and be sure to respond below. You can also call me at 720-329-8626