10 Steps to Silent Auction Success!

Zan Upselling Silent Auction Items


Often times we don’t expect Silent Auction items to sell for full price, or go over the market value.


As a Benefit Auction Specialist I here are 10 tricks and tools of the trade to increase the bidding action and get those bids up and over the value. Let’s break some records!

1. Placement. Place your items so that they are literally in the way of the bid-ders. A mistake I see often is putting the silent auction items along the perime-ter of a room. What often ends up happening is that people get their drinks and congregate in the center of the room. When the room fills up, people can’t even see the carefully arranged items on the silent auction tables. I suggest putting the tables in the center of the room.

2. Create attractive displays for the items. Have the item there beside the bid sheet if possible. Use varying heights. Put jewelry and smaller items on top of a box with a pretty cloth over it. If you can’t have the item at the event, have a color photo of the item along side the sign up sheet. Use clear plastic frames to stand next to the sheet, showing a nice photo display of the item. People often browse from a few feet back, so use height to your advantage to draw people’s attention to your items.

3. Use large font. Don’t make the bidders have to find their reading glasses in order to bid.

4. Where to start the bidding? Industry standard is to start at about 40% of the value, and increase it in 10% increments.

5. Sheets: Make sure you have the name of the item as the title, and a descrip-tion. Three columns below that will have a space for the bidder number, a space for the name, and then a space for the bid price. Please make sure to fill out all of the bid prices. You do not want people making up their own bid prices. The bid should go up in 10% increments. For a $500 item, they will be going up by $50 per line. Even if you write on the top of the page, “please in-crease bids at $50 each,” you must write the dollar amounts in for them ahead of time, because people are drinking and having a good time, and no one is reading the entire information. We want large increases, vs letting someone out bid the former bid by writing in their own dollar amount which could be as lit-tle as $1 if you let them. Fill in all the price boxes for them.

6. Spread the items out. You need room for two couples (or at the very least two people) to look at an item. If people need to jam themselves into a space to write down their name, they may just easily move on to something else, and that something else might be a conversation or cocktail, vs increasing a bid.

7. Create bidding wars, by staggering the closing of the silent auction tables. Have your auctioneer talk up the items during the silent auction, and then close the tables down in increments, making sure you announce the closings. I like to get people amped up about who is bidding on what and have everyone focus on the tables for their closing. This will make bids increase, people will get ex-cited about the closing, and have fun! It’s both entertaining, and a great way to increase donations. Close them down about 10 minutes apart from each other, depending on how many tables you have.

8. Close down your Silent Auction before the Live Auction starts. This helps people focus on the fundraising at hand, and doesn’t leave them to have their minds on their silent auction item of choice, while the Live (or Fund A Need for that matter) is going on in the other room.

9. Timing. 90 minutes is usually plenty of time for guests to arrive, get regis-tered, get their bid card, get their first drink, and peruse the items. Less than 90 min and late comers can feel in a bit of a rush, over 90 min and the evening will begin to lag.

10. Lastly make sure that you have working pens with each clip board, and have extra pens on the tables.

A tool to encourage people to start bidding at the full market value of the item, is to play a game called “Lucky 7.” If this interests you, and you are ready to get into the details of it, let me know and I’ll be happy to fill you in!

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Monday, 20 September 2021

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