The Ultimate Guide for (2021)

This is the ultimate guide to running a silent auction in 2021.

In this new guide I’ll show you:

  • How to organize and plan each details
  • How to solicit donations and items
  • How to publicize your silent auction
  • Lots more

Let’s get started.

Contents

Create an auction committee

Solicit donations and silent auction items

Planning the event

Publicize your silent auction

Organize the silent auction

Close the silent auction

Silent auctions are a terrific way to raise lots of money for your organization. They are so much fun and easy to run that many nonprofits hold one annually, and patrons expect them.  

What Is A Silent Auction?

Silent auctions, like traditional fundraiser auctions, raise funds by attendees bidding on prizes donated by sponsors. The highest bid wins and the proceeds go to the organization or cause.

A silent auction doesn’t have an auctioneer. Instead, attendees write their bids on bid sheets – making it a “silent” auction. Bidders return to the bid sheet throughout the evening to raise their bid in order to secure the prize.

Attendees have lots of fun bidding on items, and it can even get a little competitive. Everyone has a good time while donating to a worthwhile cause, which builds a strong sense of community and brings your bidding process to the next level.

Silent Auctions Are An Engaging And Fun Way To Raise Money

Nonprofits and charities have lots of fundraising success with silent auctions because they bring communities together.

  • Local businesses and other donors give prizes for attendees to bid on. They enjoy giving to your cause.
  • Attendees have fun bidding on the items and they enjoy giving to the cause too.

It’s a win-win!

In-person Or Online Silent Auction - What’s the difference?

Your auction can be online (that’s the kind we like best) using silent auction software or an in-person live auction (that works too!) using paper bid sheets or both. We’ll walk you through how to do both types of auction events, and point out the differences so you’re sure to not miss any details.

Here are the basic steps to create an amazing silent charity auction fundraiser, and we give you all the details to streamline your next silent auction. Click on any of the chapters below (or the menu at the left of the screen) to see the in-depth guide for that section:

Chapter 1:

Create an auction committee

If you are holding a silent auction, you can do it on your own (seriously!) or with a small committee of three people. Traditional, in-person auctions require more helping hands but don’t worry, we break it down for you and give you all the details to run a very successful auction. We’ll tell you:

-Who needs to be on your team

-The tasks and responsibilities for each role

-How to keep the committee focused but having fun from start to finish

The 3 Essential Functions Of Your Fundraising Committee

The Simple Way To Divide and Conquer Any Fundraising Event

Make your auction fun and profitable – we’ll show you how to do both by organizing the right team to get it all done. A good rule of thumb for fundraising committees: the more, the merrier. Many hands make the workload lighter, for sure, and it makes it more fun to work with a group of people you enjoy.

You’ll be brainstorming, networking, recruiting volunteers, and soliciting donations together. Why not spread the work and enjoy it more? Here’s an overview of the key positions, timeline tips, and milestones:

Planning:

This person or group will have oversight into all the details of the group. Key functions include:

  • Establish the date, time, and budget for the event
  • Work with outside parties to create a successful event. This would include caterers, entertainers, venue management, etc.

Prizes:

Audience members happily donate more when the prizes are exciting. Getting the right gift donations, writing the great item descriptions, and plenty of them, will make a successful auction. Prize committees manage:

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  • Local and possibly larger corporate donations: Asking for donations and picking the items up, if necessary.
  • Sponsorships: Some businesses want to do more than donate prizes and sponsorship packages may be the right fit for them. Pricing and negotiating the sponsorships are a part of this role.

Publicity:

Spreading the word is vital to the success of your silent auction. The publicity role(s) includes:

  • Social Media: Letting people know about the auction through social media posts, and encouraging others to do so as well so the word spreads as far and wide as possible.
  • Other promotions: Making flyers, writing emails, and even spreading the news of the event through word of mouth.
  • Networking: Creating a wide web of people who will pass on the event information is key to success, and the Publicity committees/people organize those networks.

Start planning 6-9 months in advance. Getting a jump on it early will make planning easier and less stressful for everyone.

If you are planning it in 3 months or less, know it can be done with some focus and a great team. No matter when you start, make sure you:

Keep a budget. Keep a timeline. Keep communication open. Each of these will help things run smoothly.

Chapter 2:

Solicit donations and silent auction items

Soliciting donations and silent auction items can bring a community together and raise lots of awareness for your cause. It can be time-consuming if you don’t focus on the most important things. We’ll give you our tips on:

-Who to ask and what to ask for so you get the best prize items

-How to make donating super easy for everyone

-Getting sponsorship to increase your bottom-line revenue

Articles: [The Most Amazing Silent Auction Prizes],

The Most Amazing Silent Auction Prizes

The right prizes create a buzz and make your event exciting, fun, and profitable!

Great prizes are essential to the success of your event. But how do you find the right type and mix of prizes to thrill your audience? How do you create a sense of community with prizes and sponsorships? And how do you get the highest bids on prizes?

It’s easy if you harness the power of your network and remember a few key points. Here’s our guide to getting the most out of your prizes and gift donations:

The Power Of The Committee

Planning prizes can seem like a daunting task. But remember, you have a secret weapon. [You’ve assembled a great auction committee of organizers.] who can help bring in the very best prizes with the right guidance. Here’s how they can lighten the load:

  • Ask them to reach out to their personal network. Perhaps they frequent a great local restaurant that would donate dinner for two at the chef’s table. Or maybe they have a friend from college who can score great tickets to a hot Broadway show. Perhaps they know someone who has a vacation home that they would donate for a week.
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  • Next, ask around. Spouses, friends, parents, item donors, your donor base, everyone has connections and most people are happy to leverage them, especially for a good cause.
  • Make sure everyone soliciting donations knows what is being offered in return: exposure to your audience and the community at large through event promotions, at the event, in follow-up communication, get the fair market value, etc.
  • Ask for donations! Most business owners are accustomed to being asked to participate in local fundraising efforts and most are happy to donate.
  • Close the deal! Have them get donations either on the spot or in writing to avoid confusion later.

Follow up. Be sure to thank your donors at the time of the donation and after the event. Let them know they made an impact and they will be more likely to donate next time.

Silent Auction Item Ideas That Always Sell:

  • Number one on this list, experiences: One-of-a-kind events like a tour of a pro team’s locker room before a big game, backstage passes for a hit show always create a buzz and get attendees excited.
  • Travel: Vacations, weekend trips or even full-day trips are a hit at almost every silent auction. Make sure it’s something special to look forward to and you’ll get the bidders bidding!
  • Tickets: Day passes to an amusement park, tickets to the theater or a concert, or a spa day are usually hot silent auction item ideas. Think about packaging them up with a gift certificate for dinner at a restaurant for even more appeal.
  • Unusual Items: An NFL signed football memorabilia or signed broadway poster are always fun to display at an event and can really draw people into the bidding.

Prizes To Avoid:

  • Used Items
  • Artwork/Decor
  • Clothing
  • Furniture

Know Your Audience

Encourage your committee to really think about the attendees, and what they might enjoy, to obtain the right mix of prizes. Brainstorm with them and create a plan.

Have something for everyone:

  • Look for a range of items priced from low to high as you want everyone to feel comfortable bidding. A lower priced item can sometimes be the “dark horse” of the night and make the most profit!
  • Make sure you have a wide variety of prizes to choose from. Prizes should be as diverse as your audience. For example family-centric gifts like a board game basket or tickets to a water park will be a hit, so make sure there are some of those. Couples gifts like spa days, golf outings, or a tasting at a local brewery will always be popular.
  • Be sure to include kid-centric gifts, from one-on-one experiences with a teacher to game/toy baskets from a local toy store, can bring in lots of bids and engage the kids in the festivities.
  • Gift baskets are almost always crowd pleasers because they can work at high and low budgets. They also allow you to “bundle up” smaller items with larger ones, creating bigger value to the attendee. [link to gift basket ideas].

Finally, make sure you have enough! A good rule of thumb is to have about half the number of prizes as you have attendees. A ratio of 200 attendees to about 100 prizes will work well and give everyone something to get excited about.

It can seem like a lot of items to obtain but just follow these simple steps and you’ll be off and running with your auction before you know it!

Getting Sponsorships: How To Get Businesses To Donate To Your Charity Event

Involving area businesses increases exposure and supercharges your fundraising efforts

As soon as you’ve established your [event committee], you will want to start getting local businesses involved in your silent auction.

This is truly a win-win as it:

  • Expands your voice and reach
  • Increases your profit potential
  • Creates a sense of community
  • Allows businesses to show their support and generosity

Read on and discover how to secure the involvement of local businesses and increase your event exposure and profits

How To Secure A Sponsorship:

Business owners are busy. You’ll want to reach out to them through several different channels to get their attention and start a conversation. In many cases you’ll have to reach out multiple times and ways – in-person, via email, etc. – before you get a response. Remember, it’s normal for this to take some time and effort, so don’t be discouraged!

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This stage is where having a big planning committee comes in handy. Encourage each member to reach out to businesses with which they have a personal relationship. If your committee is small, ask for help getting one or two prizes from a business where they have an “in.” From a local restaurant or hardware store, to friends and family at bigger corporations, they probably have more connections than they realize and should be happy to help.

What To Tell Businesses:

Lead briefly with the story of your fundraiser. “We’re raising money for new playground equipment at the elementary school.” or “We’re having a charity golf outing to raise money for a local family whose house was destroyed in a fire.”

Then let them know these key points:

  • Who will be there: Let them know how many people you expect will attend and who they are (i.e., parents of young families, active members of the community, other business leaders, etc.)
  • Who else is contributing: Tell them what other businesses are donating, and to what extent. Keep in mind that some owners like to be the only business contributing in their category, while others don’t mind as much.
  • How they will be acknowledged: Share a sample prize listing or last year’s donor’s listing in the program.
  • How their donation will be presented: Let them know if you plan on packaging it with another item or if it will be the stand-alone superstar of the evening – or something in-between.

Remember, you want to give them context for their contribution and help them decide that donating is right for them. Always leave all this information in writing, either on a flyer or in an email, so they can reference it when they have time.

If businesses want even more exposure to your audience, consider selling them a sponsorship. They can sponsor (pay full or part of the fee for) the entertainment, the bar, valet parking…you name it and you can find a way for a business to sponsor it. It garners more exposure for them and more money for your cause!

Finally, always remember to follow up with your donors and thank them for their contributions as the sky’s the limit for next time! 

Chapter 3:

Planning the event

Focus on the fun. An auction filled with energy and a generous spirit will create heaps of goodwill for your cause. Learn the secrets to making your event a memorable one, no matter how big or small your budget is. We’ll walk you through:

-Planning the best time, place, and activity for your event

-Money-saving tips – we’ve even got no-cost ideas

-Checklists to make sure you’ve thought of absolutely EVERYTHING

How To Run A Great Silent Auction Fundraiser

Silent auctions are a great way to raise money and support a cause

Organizing and running a charity event is pretty easy, especially if you are hosting your auction online as part of your fundraising strategy.

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Start by checking out this simple step-by-step guide on how to run a silent auction fundraiser:

Step 1: Create an auction committee

First, you will need plenty of enthusiastic volunteers to help you plan and run the event. Assign each volunteer and board members a task – it’s not possible to do everything on your own.

Choose a group of strong, dedicated individuals and assign leadership roles to those who will be in charge of managing and publicizing the event.

Step 2: Solicit donation items

To maximize your profits, have your team ask co-workers, friends, and family with local businesses and services to donate items for your auction. To avoid confusion later, collect items immediately or get donation offers in writing. In exchange for their donation, you can offer free publicity and advertising during your marketing campaign and at the event itself.

You’ll want a variety of items from low to high in price that are as diverse as your audience. The more variety you have in price and products, the higher your chances of success. Check that all donations are clean and in good condition.

In the current climate, you may wish to focus on contactless items like gift cards and vouchers.

Step 3: Determine a time and place for your event

If you intend to host your event in person, you will need to find an appropriate and affordable space. In general, school auditoriums and cafeterias are perfect for such fundraisers. However, if you’re social distancing, you might look to outdoor venues or online options. Mobile Smart Bid makes online auctions easy to execute without a physical presence.

Tip: Whether you are doing a school fundraiser or not, check with your nearest school and see what spaces they have available. Depending on the event they will often rent or even donate the space.

 Also be sure to:

  • Find a place where doors can be locked or hire security
  • Make sure the room has enough space for your guest to circulate freely, especially around auction items

Ensure that their facility rules won’t interfere with your event plans, such as mandatory end times, noise limits, alcohol restrictions, etc.

Step 4: Choose an activity

Make it fun! You want your attendees to be engaged and entertained from the moment they arrive.

As they walk in, filled with anticipation, they might be greeted by:

  • Music from a live band
  • An emcee or DJ beckoning them to grab a drink and join the fun
  • A raffle table with a bonus goodie or two that anyone can win
  • Great food set up on tables or being passed among guests
  • Beautiful flower arrangements from a local florist that they can win
  • A projection screen showing warm, sweet, and funny images of your beneficiaries
  • And, of course, your beautiful silent auction tables laden with tempting bid items

In short, you want to make sure your guests are engaged and entertained so they stay at your event as long as possible.

Check out this list of lively, fun, flexible elementary school fundraising event ideas to get your creative juices flowing!

Step 5: Publicize your silent auction

To maximize your profit, be sure to actively advertise and market your event. Encourage your team to spread the word. Create flyers and leverage social media to promote the great stuff you have on auction, and advertise on sites like NextDoor with a hyper-local focus. In some places, the online newspaper Patch allows you to post a free local press release. Be sure to mention your sponsors and event donors whenever possible.

You want to use all the resources you have to let people know the when, where, and why of your event.

Step 6: Organize the silent auction

It’s crucial that your auction is well organized. Be sure to plan every step so that you and your volunteers know exactly what to do and how to do it – this prevents any last minute surprises.

If you’re holding an in-person event:

  • Arrange auction tables around the perimeter and in the center of the space to allow for maximum exposure
  • Determine starting bid amounts, bid increments, how will bidders place bids (bid sheet or mobile bidding), set any auction rules,
  • Questions to answers: Do we have a guest list? Do you need to assign bidder numbers? Do we have a predefined checkout process?

If your auction is an online addition to your event or online only, be sure to:

  • Beautifully package and showcase your items
  • Make sure all items are clearly labeled with their number
  • Vary the costs of starting bids for different items. Have high priced as well as inexpensive items
  • Have diverse items that appeal to men, women and children

Step 7: Prepare bid sheets

Once you have organized your items it’s time to prep the bid sheets:

  1. Each item gets its own bid sheet
  2. At the top of the sheet list the name of the item in bold
  3. Beneath the name, include a short description of the item and the name of the donor
  4. From there to the bottom there should be a series of numbered, blank lines for bids
  5. Support the sheets with a clipboard or easels so people can easily write on them, and hang a pen on each one
  6. Be sure to have duplicates of each sheet and extra blank sheets for any last minute auction items
  7. Establish minimum bids on all items using whole dollar amounts so people will not bid in smaller bid increments

Step 8: Determine bidding rules

For example:

  • Bidders can only bid up from the previous bid
  • Bids that have been changed or crossed out must be initialed by the bidder
  • No bids will be accepted after the auction ends

Step 9: Close the silent auction

You can either have the silent auction end at a pre set time or have a “spontaneous” ending close the bidding. Just make sure your team knows exactly when the auction will end so they can be prepared.

Once the bidding has ended, committee members should immediately collect the bid sheets. Go through every sheet and get the name and amount for the winning bidder.

Next, you’ll announce the winning bidders and have them come to a pre-set area to pay for their items. They’ll receive a ticket for their item and set up a delivery time/place where they can collect the items they have won.

Make sure you have plenty of cash in hand for change. If possible, set up a way to accept credit cards for your event, which can increase your sales volume tremendously. PayPal is always an easy option, but the school or nonprofit organization may be able to set you up with their method of collecting credit card payments.

Good Luck!

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Chapter 4:

Publicize your silent auction

Get more money for your charity or organization. You don’t need to be a social media whiz or social butterfly to get a large audience. We can show you the time-saving best practices for:

-Creating a buzz that translates into dollars for your organization

-Simple ways to spread the word that don’t cost a dime

-Leveraging your social network without feeling pushy or salesy

How To Get Publicity For Your Event

The Easiest And Most Effective Ways To Attract Event Participants

You’re championing a cause you’re passionate about. You’ve formed a committee and planned meticulously.

Now all you need to do is get lots of people to attend.

You’ll definitely want to leverage social media to gain attention and publicity for your event, but there are other highly effective ways to publicize a charity event. Read on to learn more!

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Request sponsorship from media outlets

Many media groups will provide free promotion for your event in exchange for sponsor recognition. Offer a deal for the type of exposure you want.

You can:

  • Guarantee that their logo will be placed on all promotional materials in exchange for an ad
  • Make sure they’re present in social media posts when possible
  • Include them in all follow-up materials, especially the ones that celebrate reaching your goal and funding your cause

Find a Media Spokesperson

It can be very helpful to designate a media spokesperson to help you achieve your event goals. It’s likely that you have a media specialist or PR person in your volunteer pool already.

Ask around and select someone who is:

  • Experienced in media relations
  • Familiar with your cause
  • Has a passion for your event
  • Credible and convincing

Once you have someone, devise a multi-pronged approach:

  • Arrange interviews with local media and make an appearance on local TV if you can. Morning shows will often support your cause by doing interviews with your spokesperson and showcasing the beneficiaries.
  • Leverage local radio stations
  • Use your event hashtag wherever you can
  • Attend similar events and promote your own
  • Use print as well as online promotions

Create and Send Out a Press Release

Generate buzz for your event by creating and distributing an effective press release for media outlets.

A press release is a detailed account of your event that presents important information in an objective rather than promotional light. It should include your story, some compelling images and even an embedded video. You can submit your press release to local news stations, online newspapers, radio stations and, of course, social media outlets.

Note: Always present a request for media coverage through a formal letter on letterhead and send your press release three weeks to a month in advance of your event date. Send a follow-up email a week before the event if they have yet to promote anything or as a head’s up to remind them to attend.

Set up a Pre-Event Media Gathering

Pre-event affairs are a great way to give coverage to your event before it actually happens. Organize a smaller version of the event and invite the media to cover it. For instance, if the main event is a Halloween function with a pumpkin carving activity, have an early pumpkin carving contest and ask the media to feature the contest.

Alternatively, you can create a pre-event zoom media virtual announcement, inviting media to get the full story via zoom before the main event happens.

Get your charity event publicized, and you are well on your way to achieving a successful fundraiser!

4 Pro Tips To Leverage Social Media And Maximize Your Fundraising Profits

Fundraisers thrive when social media boosts publicity and reach

We all know how powerful social media can be. From a simple selfie or marriage proposal, to the Miracle on the Hudson, a single post can have huge impact.

While your goal might only be as lofty as new playground equipment or a school field trip, social media can maximize engagement and dramatically boost your fundraising efforts.

Social media is a great place to grow your fundraising. We can show you how.

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Fundraising: The Top 4 Tips To Increase Your Social Media Impact

1.     Tell Your Story: Stories are compelling. They foster empathy and help people connect to your cause. Is there a story behind your fundraiser? Has it been a journey? Are you helping someone else? Or maybe you are helping an entire community? What’s the main reason that drives you to fundraise?

In a few sentences, summarize your story and post it to social media. Here are some examples:

●      “We raise money for breast cancer awareness”

●      “Our schools need more laptops”

●      “Scholarships are a critical factor in building a better life, we’re here to help”

●      “Our community is fit and healthy, and we love to support healthy lifestyles”

Tip: if your nonprofit or cause doesn’t have its own profile on social media, this is a good time to create one. Business pages are more easily shared regardless of your list of friends and followers.

2.     Post Shareable Content: Shareable posts increase the visibility of your organization and make everyone feel connected to the cause. Set privacy settings to “global” or “all” so everyone can share it and their friends and their followers can see it too. Make sure the images are vivid and bright. Give them a reason to want to share it.

Some ideas for sharable content:

●      Behind the scenes pictures

●      Heartfelt moments

●      A Volunteer Profile

3.     Give a Call to Action – Tell your audience specifically what you want them to do and they are more likely to do it.

For example:

●      “Please support our school by sharing this to your timeline”

●      “Post this to your wall and ask your friends to share it too!

●      “Thank you in advance for sharing this with your friends!

4.     Create a Sense of Urgency – People take fast action when they know there’s a deadline. Energizing your audience just takes a few words about when and how to act. For online auctions, this is fairly simple. Try using phrases like these,

●      “Auction ends in two days!”

●      ”Don’t miss out this is a one-of-a-kind item.”

●      “Usually sells out in minutes.”

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Using Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

There are many different social media platforms, but It’s best to stick with the main three since that’s where most people are active members.

Twitter

Twitter tends to be fast-paced with quick bites of information so it’s best for auctions that are ending soon or have lots of items up for bid.

1.     Enlist the support of your network and reach out to those who can help. A friend, a teacher, or a school volunteer, if they have a social media account, ask them to share your auction items up for bid.

2.     Don’t just post and run. Be engaging and engaged. Follow up on your original post and like all your replies. Give everyone a genuine response.

3.     Thank users and donors through their social media of choice. If a donor uses Twitter, then send them a thank you Tweet. It will show your appreciation and inform other Twitter users about your auction. In your Tweet, include a tidbit on how the bid will help your organization: “The kids are going to love the new playground equipment!”

4.     Finally, #GivingTuesday is a great hashtag to use when posting about your auction. And don’t forget to log on to #twittertuesdays and request retweets from your followers.

Facebook

Because of its wide reach, Facebook is a great place to tell your story and gain lots of exposure.

1.     As soon as you decide to hold a fundraiser, tell your Facebook connections what you’re doing and why. Draw them in through the compelling story of your cause. 

2.     As donations come in, post teasers that build excitement and momentum. When your auction items go live, post each one to Facebook. Be sure to space out your posts so that they get individual attention.

Tip: Space posts out by at least three hours and up to a day. A Facebook business page allows you to schedule them in advance.

3.     When sharing auction items, tag friends who might be interested in bidding, or ask them to share your post. People who may not be interested in bidding will generally be happy to share as it allows them to participate and support a good cause.

For additional help join our Facebook Community Support Group.

Instagram

Because Instagram is image focused, it tends to be a happier, lighter medium that people pop into frequently.

1.     Use Instagram to share your story with beautiful and compelling images.

2.     Stick to one post a day or every other day. You don’t want to overwhelm people with posts.

3.     Use hashtags to drive traffic to your post. Choose a hashtag relevant to your item and then click the home feed to see similar tags. You can use up to 28 per post.

Sample hashtags: #charityauction #dogood #bidforcharity #onlinecharity #auctionforcharity #fundraising #fundraiser

4.     Tag your friends! Use @ and their name. For example, @charityauctionstoday.

5.     When you thank the person who donated the item, tag them, the auction house, and anyone who might share or bid on the item. The auction house will likely share it with their followers too.

Tag us and we’ll help you promote your online auction for charity!

Whether you’re using Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other active platform, social media can bring your story to life and maximize the profits from your fundraiser.

Chapter 5:

Organize the silent auction

Online and traditional silent auctions are easy to run, but they do take some planning. We’ll share everything we know, including:

-Checklists and templates ready for you to use

-Ideas on how to structure the auction for maximum bid potential

-Easy ways to delegate so everything flows

Articles: [Easy Checklist For An Amazing Silent Auction Prize Display] – PDF Download

Display Your Silent Auction Prizes To Get The Biggest Bids

Maximize Bids With These Tips

First impressions are everything at a silent auction. You want attendees to feel excited and ready to bid as soon as they see the prizes. You can hit the right note with donors and get the most fundraising dollars when you:

-Create prize packages that get everyone clamoring to bid

-Display prizes that stop attendees in their tracks

-Write prize descriptions that inspire donors to give generously

You can make your in-person silent auction look like the most tempting pop-up shop ever, and can make your online auction a terrific online shopping experience too.

 Here are our tips to help make your organization’s bidding goals come true.

Prizes Everyone Wants

It’s tempting to put every single item out for bidding, but if you want to raise top dollar, packaging your prizes is the way to go. Packaging, or grouping, prizes increases the perceived value so donors feel free to give more.

Create packages that make sense: group the waffle iron with an apron, rolling pin, and cookbook for a Beautiful Morning gift basket. Take the dinner for two gift card and pair it with a bottle of wine and a pair of theater tickets for The Ultimate Date Night.

Even high ticket items like a one-week stay at a resort become more appealing with a pair of towels, some sunscreen, and sunglasses.

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Tip: People love feeling like they are getting something “extra” and those added gifts can help them picture themselves enjoying the prize more.

Make the packages as creative, fun, and value-packed as possible. Your audience will respond positively.

Create The Best “Store” Experience

If you are running an in-person auction, take a queue from retail stores and display prizes so attendees stay interested and can’t wait to see what’s next.

  1. Keep prizes in groups of like items: kitchen prizes at one table, tools at another, trips and experiences at another, etc. Your attendees will be able to easily “keep an eye” on their favorite categories and skip what doesn’t interest them or is out of their price range.
  2. Make sure there is balance and symmetry to the way the prizes are arranged: The human eye is attracted to order and repelled by chaos. Give each prize some elbow room so nothing gets lost, visually speaking. About 6-12 inches between each prize is ideal.

Tip: Where you can, display things in threes (there’s the symmetry) or create height variations among the prizes to keep things visually interesting.

Prize Descriptions That Make People Bid

Descriptions need to be visually appealing and get people to imagine themselves enjoying the prize at hand.

To make a description visually appealing, make sure the description card is uncluttered and has a balance of pictures and words. All descriptions should be printed on 8.5” X 11” paper for easy reading and displayed in a frame or lucite holder. The description card should always include:

  • The mission of your organization
  • Title or Name of the prize
  • Item number

Write For The Attendees

Write descriptions so attendees can picture themselves using the prize and enjoying it. For example:

  • A Handyman For A Day prize description headline, “Want to take Sunday off and let someone else tackle the Honey-do list?”
  • A Mother-Daughter mani/pedi description points out: “Melt away stress and look gorgeous together with a relaxing spa treatment!”

Tip: Always highlight the best parts of the prize at the top of your description. People only read the headline and maybe the first few lines, so make sure they have attention-getting words that add intrigue, excitement or value.

Tip: Make sure you include all the details like blackout dates and any restrictions.

To make your auction successful, the prizes should be presented in a beautiful, logical way, so bidders can focus on what they want and feel excited to win. If you think like a store manager (either and online, or in-store manager), you will make a memorable experience for your bidders and for your organization, too.

Chapter 6:

Close the silent auction

The end of the evening will be flawless, as long as you know what to expect. You won’t be caught off guard with our prep guide. You’ll learn:

 -What makes a memorable evening closer so people join in next year

-How to accept payment without fees or snags

-What makes your attendees feel like an appreciated contributor to your cause

Articles: [How To Close Silent Auction So You Hit Your Fundraising Goals], [3 Simple Things To Do After Your Silent Auction To Make An Impact] [Thank you emails to get the last bit of cash]

How To Close Silent Auction So You Hit Your Fundraising Goals

What’s the right way to close bidding for your organization?

Closing your silent auction bids, either online or in-person, may seem straightforward but there are a few things to consider that can maximize your fundraising efforts right at the end of your event.

 Three ways to close bidding on silent auctions:

-Spontaneous

-Pre-planned

-In stages

 You can use one or two of these strategies together if it suits your event and audience. Plan how you will close the evening and get ready for great results. It’s easy!

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Spontaneous Closing

When bidders don’t know when the bidding will end, it creates a frenzy of activity for everyone to put their best bids in and stay at the top of the bid sheet. Spontaneous closing takes advantage of this. Plus, the feverish bidding and excitement make it fun and memorable.

Bottom Line: Run a spontaneous closing for your online or in-person auction to add some action and thrills to your event. It could even help bump up the funds you’ll raise.

Pre-Planned Closing

Pre-planned bid closings create a slow build of action throughout the event. If you plan on closing the bidding at a designated time, we suggest having a countdown clock visible to keep bidding top of mind.

Sporadic “countdown” reminders from the auction chairs are also helpful. The last few minutes of the silent auction are always full of impulse and intensity. Get ready for some last-minute bidding wars, which make it loads of fun.

Bottom Line: Have a pre-planned closing for your in-person or online silent auction to create a pace for the event that builds to a crescendo. It’s a lively end to the event and could create some impulsive bidding.

Staged Closing

Closing the bidding for each category of prizes, one by one, can make the auction feel more exciting as the number of items to bid on gets smaller and smaller.

Staged closings work best when you group prizes into categories. Naming the categories (i.e., yellow section, blue section, etc.) will help attendees follow along with your plan.

Tip: Close bidding for the low-value items first, and work your way toward the biggest ticket items, allowing about 15-30 minutes in between, depending on the number of prizes.

Bottom Line: If you have many items in your silent auction, closing in stages will give you time to process the bids and auction attendees time to spend their cash on the prizes still in play. Staged closings work well for online and in-person events.

No Matter How You Close The Bids…

Be sure to end the evening with a bang. Give everyone a chance to celebrate:

  • For in-person silent auctions, collect the bid sheets and announce the winning bid for each prize.
  • For online silent auctions, the auction software will confirm the winning bids and notify the winner as well as the competing bidders.

Make your event even more memorable for your guests by closing the bidding with lots of energy and drama. Pick the right strategy for your organization and make it a successful event for everyone involved.

3 Simple Things To Do After Your Silent Auction To Make An Impact

Keep the donations and good vibes coming, even after your event

After you close out your silent auction and count up all the money you raised, there is a special opportunity to create awareness about your mission and even get some last-minute donations.

Here are the three things every successful auction committee should do after the fundraising event:

  • Thank the attendees/donors in a personalized way (check out our Thank You Note sample)
  • Thank donors and attendees on social media (use video if you can. It makes an impact)
  • Share an inspiring story (make the donor the star of the story. We show you how.)

These small gestures take very little time but can make a big difference in how people perceive your organization. They can feel a closer affinity to your mission and create a better relationship for the future. We’ll walk you through how to do it.

Thank Attendees And Donors

A heartfelt thank you note sent out after the event will make everyone – donors and non-donors alike, feel appreciated, included, and aligned with your mission.

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A personalized thank you note shows that your organization truly does care, and that’s an important impression to make! It also can serve as a ‘last call’ for people who didn’t get to bid at the event or want to give even more after a good night of fun.

Send the note up to one week after the event, when everything is still fresh in the attendees’ minds. You can send an email (no batch emails. Personalized attention is key!) or even call some key donors.

In the note, be sure to:

  • Remind them of your mission
  • Let them know how their donation helps
  • Thank them for their donation
  • Include a link to donate in your signature (but don’t ask for a donation.)

Here’s a sample thank you note you can use:

Dear [Attendee],

 We did it!


Together, we raised $X for [insert your mission or goal, e.g., “to buy new playground equipment for our school”]. Your participation in our event was critical and we were so glad to see you there.

 Thanks to your contribution, [organization name] can [insert what you plan to do with the funds, e.g., “help our kids get a better education”] so that [insert the problem you want to solve, e.g., “they can have a brighter future.”].

 From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for your generosity.

Including a thank you video via email is always a good idea if you can. People love to see your organization in action! Include photos or videos of the work your organization does and/or the fun times people had at the event.

Tip: Avoid asking for one last donation. Instead, give your contact information and ask if you can keep in touch. This adds a personal connection to your organization and keeps the channels of communication open for future donations.

Use Social Media To Thank Attendees

Social media is a great way to reach many people at one time and create a buzz. Why not thank all your attendees and/or donors and give them the recognition they deserve?

A simple post is all it takes! Be sure to:

  • Tag your donors and/or attendees. Thank your sponsors too!
  • Mention what the event was for and any fundraising goals reached
  • Include pictures, if appropriate
  • Include a link to online giving if you have one

Share An Inspiring Story

Donors want to know how they made a difference. A terrific way to do that is to tell a story of how your organization made an impact in our world.

You can use this story in your thank you note or send it out a few days after the thank you note. Either way, keeping your silent auction attendees updates on all the wins your organization creates will make them want to be more involved with your cause.

Be sure to paint a clear “before” and “after” picture of the change your organization made. Use pictures or video to bring the readers into the story.

Tip: Make sure to make the viewer the hero of the story. Use phrases like, “Because of generous donors like you, we were able to…” or “ Your generosity made it possible for…”.

A little appreciation goes a long way. Everyone loves to hear that their contribution matters, so don’t miss an opportunity to tell your audience how much they mean to you or your organization. A thank you can be a small note or a big creative project – it’s your choice. But no matter how you do it, do it with heart.

Exclusive Bonus: Ditch The Bid Sheets™

Grow your mobile bidding pool and re-engage bidders who didn’t take home auction items in the past. Download now!