Fundraising 101

Putting Together a Successful Auction

Many organizations offering large-scale fundraising events find that a silent auction nicely compliments their fundraising efforts. Do you ever wonder how all of those wonderful packages and prizes are organized and readied for bidding?

Giving Tree’s client, IMD Guest House, will be hosting their Annual Golf Outing in two weeks. They too will offer a silent auction as a part of this event.

Here are some tips and tricks to help your silent auction reach its full potential for success:

Descriptions: When it comes to item descriptions, remember to keep them short and to the point. We refer to them as “mini-billboards” because they should catch the bidder’s attention as they walk by. Don’t forget to include important information such as expiration dates and the addresses of venues being offered.

Bidding Increments and Setting Your Starting Bid: A starting bid is typically about 30% (and sometimes as high as 50%) of the item/package’s retail value. Bidding increments tend to be larger for more expensive items ($25, $50 or $100) and smaller for less expensive items ($5, $10 or $20). As a rule of thumb – and to make things easier for your guests – always predetermine bidding increments and include them in writing on the top of the description and bid sheets.

Spacing and Set Up: It is generally good to plan at least one-foot of table space per auction item. You want to provide adequate space for your guests to move around and view all of the items.

Create Experiences. Aim to create packages that generate an, “oh, I want to do that!” response. When you combine a restaurant gift certificate, tickets to a show and a night at a hotel, you instantly create a Night Out package. Now guests are purchasing more than the experience, they are purchasing convenience of having a weekend planned just for them. Added convenience drives up the value, resulting in more competition and higher bidding.

Draw Attention to the Silent Auction: A silent auction should be anything but silent! Your guests will be talking, eating and drinking. But, amongst all the distractions, it is it is important to draw attention to the silent auction tables. Ask your Auction Committee Chairs to make two or three announcements during the event.

Well-planned silent auctions can be fun, exciting, competitive, and perhaps most important, a significant fundraising tool.

Let the bidding begin!