Silent auctions are often combined with other fundraising events, such as craft fairs, choir and band concerts, and banquets. Anytime a large group of people is together at an event, indoors or out, you can probably have a silent auction and raise money for your organization or charity.
Silent auctions are so named because there is basket ideas for silent auction not a live auctioneer holding the auction. Instead, the items to be auctioned are on display with a bid sheet for each item. The auction-goers bid by writing their bid amount on paper. At the end of the auction, all the bid sheets are collected and the high bidder pays for the auction item.
The opening and minimum bids are usually predetermined. Bidding usually starts a one half the retail price of the item. It is a good idea to set minimum bidding increments so that people don’t just raise their bids by five cents each time. The higher the dollar value of the item the higher the bidding increment should be. For example, if you are auctioning a pair of airline tickets worth $500 you would start the bidding at $250 with bidding increments set at $10.00. If you have a gift certificate for $40.00 to a hair salon you would start the bidding at $20.00 with a $1.00 increment.
Most of the time the items for the silent auction are donated by members of your organization or by businesses. When you auction donated items your organization will get to keep one hundred percent of the money the item sells for. You can also use donations of money and buy items for the silent auction but you have to make sure you will still make a profit if you buy items. Gift certificates from local businesses are the most popular items for silent auctions. Businesses benefit by getting a tax write-off and the potential for a new customer when they donate to your auction.
You can hold a silent auction with lots of items for bidding or you can even have a silent auction when you have only one item to auction. Depending on your event, the aforementioned airline tickets could be used by themselves for a silent auction.
You can also be creative with your auctions and have a theme. For example you can create themed gift baskets with the items you receive. Baskets can be filled with an assortment of coordinating items. Some possibilities for themes are chocolate lovers, coffee and tea lovers, bath and body, gardening, candles, and sports. Of course, this will require more work from your volunteers in preparing the auction.
Some things to remember when holding a silent auction are:
Make sure your items are displayed attractively and that people have enough room to gather around your display tables.
Have volunteers on hand to help bidders and keep an eye on the items to prevent theft (sadly, it does occur sometimes).
If you have gift certificates as auction items make sure the expiration date gives the buyer a reasonable time to use the certificate.
Announce the end of the bidding and let people have one more chance to bid.