Typically, the silent auction portion of a fundraising event raises about a third the event’s revenue.
According to our research, silent auction items usually procure 50% of their retail value. How do you get that number higher?
The biggest enemy to a successful annual auction event is simply time. It takes time to plan a quality fundraising event. It takes time to iron out the kinks in an event. Time also has a way of creating atrophy or at the very least stagnation. It is exciting when an event turns out to be a huge success. Many organizations fall into the temptation to replicate the same successful event. Inevitably, things change each year – revenue goals increase and loyal donors can lose interest in the same event. When the focus of the event is on recreation rather than innovation, it makes sense that auction revenue can become stagnant too.
Here are 6 strategies your nonprofit can use to not only maintain but maximize auction item sales:
- Emcee the silent auction
- Close the silent action in stages
- Select quality items
- Select the right amount of quality items
- Reallocate undesired donation offers
- Prioritize items with super silent auctions
Emcee the silent auction
Engaging the crowd is important, even during the silent auction. Encourage as much participation as possible by highlighting the silent auction throughout the night. Many nonprofits work hours and months on a good silent auction, they market the auction well before the event, but during the actual event, the silent auction is set up in a corner and little emphasis is given to the great auction items.
The live auction portion of an event can overwhelm and overtake the silent auction portion. But this is not necessary! Just because a silent auction does not have live bidding does not mean the auction needs to be silent. With a cordless mic, have volunteers or an emcee engage and highlight the silent auction items. The speaker can talk up the items, highlight special deals, and narrate some high-bidding and competitive items to build up the excitement in the room!
Close the silent action in stages
Closing the silent auction in stages creates energy and builds excitement. Additionally, abrupt silent auction closings can catch your guests off guard and it can out of place. Closing in stages creates a kind of compression for your guests. It also keeps time for them. They also get reminded of smaller, bite sized windows of time. It makes it easier to section off auction items into these windows so your guests are less likely to feel pulled in three directions for three different items that are closing all at once. Closing in stages also maximizes the number at eyes looking at every item. This means more attention is drawn to items and healthy bidding competition can increase.
Expert tip! Don’t close your silent auction during the live auction! We recommend utilizing the checkout-ease of mobile bidding and keep the silent auction open until the end of the live auction.
Select Quality items
It is OK to be choosy with your auction items! In fact, it is good to be choosy!
A silent auction is only as interesting as the items in it. Entertaining items delight, surprise, and speak for themselves. They have perceived value.
Think priceless, not adequate.
Think luxury, not grandma’s attic.
Select the right amount of Quality items
Picking quality auction items is important, but it is also important to remember the negative affect that too many auction items has on your quality items! Even if you have amazing auction items, they can get lost in the clutter of mediocre auction items if there are too many options to choose from.
Reallocate undesired donation offers
Having a certain limit of auction items in mind can also help your event planners be strategic and choosy when selecting auction items and receiving donations from generous sponsors.
If a sponsor offers a donation gift that will not be received well as an auction item, it is ok to ask for a monetary donation that will go towards another item you think is more attractive. This kind of strategy requires your auction planning committee to care about quality over quantity!
Prioritize items with super silent auctions
Getting an emcee to highlight silent auction items and interacting with the auction displays will help generate buzz about the silent auction during the event. Closing the event in stages will also help create that energy…
But if you want to generate significant attention and appeal for certain auction items, we recommend – The Super Silent Auction.
This strategy structures your silent auction in a way that helps you specify items.
How do you run a super silent auction?
Typically, organizations pick the best of their silent auction items to be in the super silent auction. Another strategy is to limit the number of live auction items and reallocate some premium items into a super silent auction. It just depends on if your event has too many live or silent auction items.
How do you know how many items your event should have? Here are some rules of thumb: Live auctions should have 6-10 items. Silent auctions should usually have 1.5 auction items per wallet present. If your event has 100 guests, that’s probably around 50 wallets, which is about 30 silent auction items.
Super silent auctions offers a way to generate attention and importance for key items. This means that these items will not get as easily lost in silent auction tables. It also means that premium auction items are highlighted without elongating the live auction unnecessarily!
In addition, this helps your organization highlight generous donors and sponsors who aided premium auction items.
Remember! – It is important that super silent auction be marked as a special and standalone section. This dedicated area should have separate signage and bright lighting.
If your organization is looking for silent auction items for your next fundraiser contact Charity Fundraising today.