If you’re going to focus on charity fundraising, it would be a good idea to learn a little more about how to make the most of silent auctions. Charity Fundraising has assembled a useful list of time-tested tips.

1. Choose the right date.

It’s not a good idea to have silent auctions in the summer (for the most part). Fall and spring are often ideal. In the fall, for example, some people may have friends and family in mind for holiday shopping. Ideally, the silent auction will be on a weekend (provides ample time for the event).

2. Hire a professional auctioneer.

The main advantage of a professional auctioneer is that he has done this before – many times. His experience may prove useful on multiple fronts. A seasoned auctioneer will be sensitive to the event timing and manage to get through the items. Plus, he likely will work to get more money for the items.

Obviously there can be budget constraints. If you end up with a volunteer professional auctioneer, make sure it’s someone with a very engaging personality (hopefully someone the guests know). But have other event organizers in place to provide guidance so the auction goes off as planned – at least the timing. You don’t want to go way beyond the schedule and annoy guests who may think twice about coming the next time.

3. Give guests everything they need to know in auction packets.

Be creative with the way you design and organize the packets. But key information should include 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.

4. Layout considerations.

You need to plan on appropriate space for the tables so people can move along without creating traffic. For example, avoid U-shaped table configurations.

5. Closing times.

It can get tricky when you end up competing for the attention of guests who will want to sit down for dinner and also take part in a live auction or other activities at the event. The closing times will depend on how you set up the room, the event schedule and how many people are expected to attend.

You should anticipate that some people may not bid until the last few minutes. Regardless, you can close each section on an incremental basis (guests will know the schedule).

Be sure to save the best for last. Sort tables by value and make sure to save the most expensive items for the end of the client auction. You can create more bidding excitement that way and possibly make more money for the charitable event.

For more assistance in planning your upcoming benefit auction, contact Charity Fundraising today.  Since 2006, Charity Fundraising has served over 5,000 non-profits worldwide by providing benefit auction ideas to help them exceed all fundraising goals.