Effective fundraising for your organization is a crucial when it comes to supporting your cause and executing your financial goals.  A live auction fundraiser is an entertaining and innovative way to generate funds for your organization and provides donors with a unique way to support the cause they care about.

When you decide to host a live auction for your charity, you will have to meet many strategic goals consider your event a success.  You want your guests to enjoy a memorable evening, host a room filled with supporters and most importantly reach your financial goals.  However, the selection of the right charity auction items for your event could be the most important decision in your event planning strategy.  Without unique, sought-after auction items, your event may not produce the revenue you need to operate your charity.

The best auction items are:

  1. Priced reasonably
  2. In demand
  3. Unique
  4. Hard to secure on one’s own
  5. Experiential

When selecting your live auction items, keep in mind that your goal is to engage the room, get the crowd bidding and drive revenue to your cause.  Though the possibilities are endless when selecting charity auction items; autographed guitars and vacation packages and VIP experiences typically bring in the highest bids.  Recently, the Greater Bay Area Make-A-Wish Foundation worked with our Fundraising Manager, Michael Gordon on the Monterey Bay Gala. Gordon suggested auctioning off a Rolling Stones autographed guitar as a live auction item.  Not only did the guitar sell in the live auction, it sold for an incredible $21,000. The item was consigned to the charity for $1,500 so the charity made a profit of $ 19,500 from just this one live auction item.

Items that tend to yield low bids and little interest from guests at a live auction are gift baskets, local restaurant gift cards and gym memberships.  These items are often donated by supporters of the organization and are better suited for silent auctions or raffles.

Historically, we have found the following charity auction items to work well for specific fundraisers.  Here are some general guidelines for selecting live auction items if you are hosting.

A School Fundraiser:  At school fundraisers we have found that parents typically bid on items for their children.  Merchandise featuring Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Harry Potter or the Avengers have been popular recently.  Charity Fundraising will also be unveiling a line of animation art featuring autographs from the animators and creators of legendary cartoons like “Snoopy”, “Bugs Bunny” and the “The Flintstones.” Other items that drive high bids at school fundraisers include family fun vacation packages to Disney or Busch Gardens.

Casual Fundraisers:  When selecting charity auction items for a casual fundraiser it is most effective to select many low-ticket items and showcasing only one or two “WOW” items like a guitar or vacation package.  Movie posters, sports memorabilia and record albums are great low-ticket items for casual fundraisers.

Gala Fundraisers:  Showcasing a large amount of big-ticket items like autograph guitars and record albums signed by the Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and other historic performers.  Legendary actors and rock stars have name recognition that the crowd will quickly identify.  Large gala fundraisers should also consider several vacation and VIP experiences such as tickets to the Super Bowl or The Masters Golf Championships.  These are events that are always sold out years in advance and tickets are hard to come by.  Items like these will drive large bids and make your charity auction a huge success.