Back to the Basics: What is a Silent Auction?

A silent auction is an auctioning event without an auctioneer. Traditionally, during a set amount of time, bids are written down on a sheet of paper. With new technology, online bidding using mobile devices or kiosks provided by a fundraising company can also assist in bid collection.  Bidders generally list their full names, their bid, and their phone number on the form to be used in case they win.

There are two ways to hold a silent auction: A “Sealed bid” and a “Top Up” bid. The “Sealed bid” system allows donors to only make one secret bid per item on as many items as they like, ensuring the greatest value bids are placed against each item. This system also leaves bidders the leisure of perusing the auction lots freely. On the other hand, the traditional “Top Up” bidding system creates an environment where your guests openly compete against one another for auction lots where they can bid multiple times on the same item in a predetermined timeframe. This system dictates the price of each product by how much the other bidders have pushed up the initial donation. At the end of each auction system, however, the highest bidder wins the item.

Why do Silent Auctions Work?

Silent Auctions are not about the inherent market value of the auction lots. Some of the best items to offer are more tied to sentimental value, either holding emotional or psychological value for bidders.

Silent Auctions give you the opportunity to be diverse and creative with your auction lots. Because there is no obvious pre-set limit, auction items such as experiences, vacations, all access meetings with your favorite sports star, autographed guitars, albums, photos, posters, memorabilia are great options for all ages and different groups of interest. Silent Auctions also give the donor the convenience of focusing on only the auction lots that interest them. But at the end of the day, it is important not to forget that bidders are interested in lending a hand in the cause you support. Silent Auctions provide an opportunity to get people to be interested and to help your cause.

Also, silent auctions are not confined to restrained hours or a specific place of meeting. Silent auctions should be displayed in high traffic areas; however, the location and time of auctions can be very diverse. Silent Auctions can be held casually and informally in places such as a community center, a festival, church or school or in a formal venue as a black tie event.  This style of fundraising lends the non-profit flexibility and customization opportunities that some fundraising systems could not otherwise.

How does Silent Auctions Generate Money for your Non-Profit?

Silent auctions generate money for your non-profit in many ways. Because all items must be solicited in advance, there is very little overhead for silent auctions. Donations from local merchants, vendors, and personal contacts make silent auctions possible. Furthermore, all items donated are typically 100% tax deductible. Due to the combination of little overhead costs and placing a minimum bid on the bidding form, Silent auctions can be a safer and more secure fundraiser for your non-profit. Moreover, silent auctions also help non-profits gain more reputation, recognition, and therefore, more long-term donor.