When running a silent auction the topic will come up – how long should our silent auction stay open or what is the best silent auction closing time? Is there a correct time to keep the silent auction open in order to maximize the amount of money a charity or fundraiser will receive? Basically, a silent auction’s start time should be immediately when the event starts and the closing time should be before the live auction and main activities begin. More specifically, your silent auction tables should be divided into sections and closed at different times.
Dividing Silent Auction into Sections
In my professional opinion after working countless events through the years and raising millions of dollars, if you are doing a traditional silent auction that uses paper sheets and not mobile bidding then the best plan is to divide the silent auction into sections and stagger the closing times, preferably 10-15 minutes apart (too much longer takes away some of the benefits). This is of course assuming that you have more than 15-20 items. If you have less than that I would recommend only having one closing time, but if you have more than 20 items in your silent auction I would recommend having multiple silent auction tables with multiple closing times. Always close the section with the lowest valued items first and go up in value from there. You may have a few guests that are surprised that the silent auction items are closing already, but this is exactly what will help set a tone of urgency in bidding. Allowing a silent auction to stay open too long or close all at once will take away this urgency. An ideal silent auction only needs a total of 60-90 minutes to maximize your returns.
Here are four reasons your silent auction will raise more money when closed in sections rather than all at once.
More Silent Auction Closing Time Announcements Equals More Money
First, with multiple closing times there will be numerous announcements about the silent auction. The more attention you can bring to the silent auction, the more bidding and the more money will be made. For example, your emcee can make announcements for each section that the silent auction is closing in 15 minutes, 5 minutes, then announce 1 minute followed by a 10 second countdown.
Bidders Can Focus On Multiple Items
Second, bidders will be able to focus more on multiple items if you have several sections and closing times for your silent auction. Many bidders will “hover” around the auction items they really want when the silent auction is nearing its closing time. If the whole auction closes at the same time, they are only able to ensure that they will continue to bid on that one item. If the auction closes in sections, they will be able to focus on their favorite item in each section as the previous section closes. People who are out-bid in the previous section will increase bidding in the next sections.
Marked Down Or Non Bid Items Can Be Moved To Other Sections
Third, items that are not as popular can be moved and even marked down. Sometimes there are items that are not bid on at all, either because they are not commonly desired or their starting bids were too high. If a few of the items in the first silent auction section didn’t get bid on, you can simply move those item to the last section and even adjust the prices. It is much better to make something off of those donated items than finding out after the whole auction closed that they were not even bid on at all.
Easier On Your Staff
Finally, closing your silent auction in sections makes it much easier for your staff or volunteers to pick up bid sheets, organize the items, and prepare invoices when the silent auction closing time is in sections rather than a mad exhaustive congested rush all at one closing time.
As always, if you have any other questions regarding fundraising, auctions, or need more ideas, don’t hesitate to contact me. I am just a phone call or click away and would love to hear from you.