Back to the Basics: What is a Silent Auction?

Silent auctions are fun, profitable, complex, and exciting. Done well, the benefits of a good auction can be quite rewarding for your group, often outweighing the challenges. Auctions have the ability to bring businesses, local merchants, vendors, families, friends, staff, and the community at large together in mutual support for your cause.

To maximize your success, when planning your silent auction, it is imperative you follow these steps:

1. Start Early – Planning six months in advance for a small auction is not overkill. Locking in your venue early is imperative. It is also important to remember: the more time you allow for donation solicitation, the more items you’ll have by your event date.

2. Assemble a Strong Team –a strong team of dedicated volunteers are indispensable. As you work with your team for several months, dealing with issues and challenges, it will become apparent how much of a role your team plays towards the success of your event. Regardless of experience, there are plenty of jobs for everyone can help at some point of the process, so don’t ever throw out a willing hand.

3. Make Major Decisions Upfront – You’ll need to decide right from the start the basic format of your event. For example, will your auction be the only activity at the event, or will you incorporate the auction into a bigger event? Will you offer food? Will you charge for tickets? There are some administrative tasks that must be handled, such as tracking your auction inventory, managing ticket sales, and developing bid sheets and a catalog for your guests. Creative tasks include designing decorations and preparing appealing displays for the auction items. Keep in mind the audience you are trying to reach. Location and format affect ticket price, which could have a ripple effect on the bid amounts. You may not need an event at a fancy country club, while other audiences might be more comfortable with such a setting. Once you have set a location, it is important to plan on appropriate space for the tables to avoid human traffic jams during the event.

4. PublicizeSpread the word … informatively! Regardless of format, you’ll need to publicize your event and generate enthusiasm. Giving guests auction packets is a creative way to give key information. These packets should include information about the overall program, facts about the organization, auction rules, all of the options for making payments, closing times for the auction tables, and anything extra like coupons you’re providing for drinks.

5. After the Event, Thank your Donors and Bidders – Successfully executing a silent auction can be a difficult task. Research shows that the average non-profit in America looses 70% of their donors after the first gift. A silent auction is a platform that brings people together with one cause and goal in mind. Thanking your donors for their participation and investment in your cause is the first step of welcoming them to the team for more than one event.

Want to learn more on how to make your solent auction a success? Contact Charity Fundraising today!