As you look across a room crowded with tables filled with silent auction items, you feel a sense of relief.  All of your auction items have arrived safely, the guests have been invited and your charity auction is just around the corner.  Now that your auction items are organized, it’s time to begin the task of pricing each item in hopes to secure the highest possible bids for your cause.

Before you begin, let’s review some strategies and tips to help you price your items.

The Crowd:  Consider your audience and your large donors.  Many charities will reach out to their large donors prior to the event and provide them with a sampling of the items that will be available.  These donors will show their interest or disinterest and provide insight about how much they might pay for such an item.  This strategy should be helpful in targeting your minimum bid. Consider pricing your items according to a “buyers” or a “sellers” market.  If you have more items to sell than guests in the room, this is a buyer’s market.  Because there is a selection and your guests have choices, price the items slightly lower than if you were working in a seller’s market.

The Auction Item:  If your item is on zero risk consignment basis, this means that there are no upfront costs to your organization until the item sells, you may want to lock in your profit by starting the bids at 10% to 20% above the consignment rate.  This usually causes increased multiple bids on an item. It is helpful to select a round number.  Silent auction items that are valued at less than $100 should end in a 5 and items valued greater than $100 should end in a zero.  If an item is valued as “priceless”, however it is important to select an opening bid that is low enough to encourage bidding but not so high that guests are not able to bid on the item.

Along with structuring the opening bids, remember to think about minimum raises for your items.  Like opening bids, minimum raises should be round numbers.  A well thought out bid plan can help your event run efficiently and not linger on while bids increase for hours.

The Event:  A good rule of thumb is to note that live auctions typically yield 75% of the items actual value.  Silent auctions typically yield 50% of the items actual value.  So when you are structuring the type of event you want to host, these are important statistics to keep in mind.

Remember helpful resources like Charity Fundraising that can assist you in securing your auction items and planning your event.  Michael Gordon, Fundraising Manager for Charity Fundraising comments, “Not only do we provide all of our charity auction items to our non-profit partners on a consignment basis, we provide detailed descriptions for the items and advice on pricing and running your charity event.  Our goal is to make your live or silent charity auction a success for your organization and for your guests.”