Silent auctions are a fun and engaging way to raise money for your charity or organisation, whether at an in-person event or online.
If you haven’t embraced this method of fundraising yet and would like to find out all about it, then read on to discover exactly what a silent auction is and why it’s a great fundraising technique for any event.
What is a Silent Auction and How Does it Work?
Silent auctions are a very popular fundraising method at all types of events. They can either be the main attraction or take place unobtrusively in the background of the evening. Either way, they are a fantastic form of entertainment and a vital source of fundraising.
At many events, a professional fundraising team will be present to support and encourage guests with their bidding throughout. This team may walk the items around during the event to give guests the opportunity to have a closer look and encourage bidding. Alternatively, the guests will move around the room to view and bid on items with the team on hand to answer any questions.
At the end of the evening, the successful bidders will be informed and payment collected. The delivery or collection of winning items can then be arranged.
Silent Auction Bidding Options for Event Fundraising
Bids will typically be placed either by sealed bid brochure or by electronic bidding. Choosing the right bidding option for your event is very important.
At Full Event Fundraising, we understand that your fundraising needs and requirements are unique. This naturally means that what works well at one event may not be the most successful method for another. For that reason, we offer a full range of in-house fundraising service solutions, and we’ll work closely with you to help you decide upon the best fundraising method for your event.
Sealed Bid Brochure Bidding
Sealed bid brochure bidding is a traditional fundraising solution that’s proven to be incredibly effective. It’s the favoured method for many types of organisations and events, from international charities to small regional fundraisers.
Sealed bid brochure bidding involves the creation of a bespoke auction brochure that incorporates your branding and sponsors.
The key features and advantages of sealed bid brochure bidding are:
- A personalised bidding brochure for each guest
- Blind bidding (bidding without knowing what anyone else is bidding)
- No top-up bidding (thereby encouraging bidders to bid high)
- Multiple sales of each lot can be purchased (subject to lot availability)
- Integration with online pre-event bidding
Electronic bidding is a fun and interactive bidding method for silent auctions.
At Full Event Fundraising, our cutting edge auction technology offers multiple options for electronic bidding. This means you can tailor your event to suit your preferences. When you opt for this type of bidding with us, our in-house team will create your unique electronic auction.
- The key features and advantages of electronic bidding are:
- iPad bidding on a closed secure network (mobile bidding optional)
- Guests pre-registered for the event
- Competitive top-up bidding
- Sealed bid and buy it now options
- Option for pre-event bidding online
- Option for interactive pledging
How Does an Online Silent Auction Work?
Whether it’s to accompany an upcoming event, or as a standalone fundraising campaign, online fundraising is a highly effective and engaging tool to help you raise more funds.
When hosting an online silent auction, it’s a great idea to have a website dedicated to the event.
The key features and advantages of an online auction are:
- No need to download an app
- Can be accessed on multiple devices
- Supporters can bid remotely from anywhere in the world (which increases the number of attendees)
- Allows for easy browsing and placing of bids
- Can be used before an event to increase fundraising, or as a standalone campaign
- Bidders receive a text message informing them when they have been outbid to encourage higher bidding
- Winning bidders receive a text at the end of the auction
- Integrated, secure payment collection
The Advantages of an Online Silent Auction?
Online auctions have become an increasingly important fundraising approach. With live events not consistently possible due to COVID-19, online auctions are a pandemic-proof method of fundraising.
One of the biggest advantages of an online silent auction is convenience. Your supporters can bid from the comfort of their own home, from anywhere in the world. This can naturally increase the audience for an event.
As you can expect, more guests will often lead to more bids and more money raised. Think of an online auction as similar to eBay—you see an item you like and you bid against your competitors to win it.
Another great benefit to hosting an online silent auction is that it can go on for as long as you like. This will typically be several days or more, whereas silent auctions in a live event environment take place over just a few hours. An extended time allows for more people to check out the auction items and drive up the bids. It also allows for people around the world in different time zones to join in and not miss out.
Additionally, the costs associated with an online auction are much lower than an in-person event.
How to Host a Successful Silent Auction
Now you have a better idea of what a silent auction is and how it can benefit your fundraising, it’s time to plan! Here’s some guidance on hosting a successful silent auction.
- Choose a great venue
- Promote your event
- Engage a fantastic MC/Auctioneer
- Select the fundraising method(s) and auction lots
Read on for more information on these important points.
Choose a Great Venue
The venue for your silent auction should be big enough to comfortably cater to all of your guests. So ensure that the space is big enough to display your auction items and for everyone to move around with ease.
Accessibility is incredibly important when organising any type of event. Make sure that the rooms and the toilets are fully accessible so that wheelchair users can attend without issue.
The location of the venue also deserves some consideration. Guests should be able to travel there in a reasonable amount of time, whether driving themselves or taking public transport. For those who are driving, you’ll want to make sure there’s ample space to park in.
Additionally, if you’re going to serve food at your event, you’ll want to check if the venue can accommodate your specific needs. Some venues will offer this as an extra service, whereas some will require you to organise catering.
Promote Your Event Properly
Promoting your fundraising event through various marketing activities can help to ensure you reach the right people and hit your ticket sales target.
You can do this through your usual online marketing activities, such as social media and email newsletters, as well as reaching out to people directly to invite them.
Engage A Fantastic MC/Auctioneer
An MC is crucial to the success of your fundraising and it’s important to select the right person or people for your event. As well as hosting the event and interacting with your guests, the MC can also serve as the auctioneer.
A good MC will direct the flow of the evening and entertain guests from start to finish. They will also be prompting guests to keep the bidding going, so they have the potential to significantly increase the final amount raised.
If you’re having a live auction, then you’ll definitely need an auctioneer. This can often be the MC, but you can also have two different people if your budget accommodates this.
Choosing the right MC and auctioneer is a task that Full Event Fundraising can guide you through.
Select the Fundraising Method(s) and Auction Lots
These are naturally the most important aspects of a successful silent auction!
As discussed above, the Full Event Fundraising team will work closely with you to help you understand and decide the best fundraising method for your event.
The heart of any auction is having good silent auction items that your supporters will want to bid on.
You’ll need to offer a selection of auction lots that your guests will find interesting or exciting. It’s wise to consider who’s attending your event before you go ahead and procure your items. This allows you to figure out what your audience is likely to bid on. It can be helpful to think about the age group of your guests, as well as the types of organisations and businesses they work for.
Offering items that vary widely in terms of financial value is also a good idea. This ensures that there’s something to suit everyone’s budget.
Acquiring donated items is a great way to maximise your fundraising potential. Additionally, the process of soliciting items for the auction is a fun way to network and build relationships with a wide range of organisations. Donors can be invited to the event, whether it’s in-person or online, and might be interested to bid on other items in the auction.
You’ll likely discover that it can be difficult to find a wide selection of desirable items for your auction without a provider.
Silent Auction providers offer a diverse range of exclusive lots, with something to suit every budget. This might include bespoke luxury holidays, signed memorabilia, artwork and unique experiences. Experiences—such as incredible chefs who’ll cater for you and your guests in your home—can be a particularly exciting choice.
One of the advantages of using a silent auction provider is that lots are provided on a sale or return basis, meaning there’s no financial outlay or risk involved. Also, items such as holidays and experiences can often be sold multiple times, which maximises the fundraising potential.
Full Event Fundraising is committed to ensuring that you, the client, are the main beneficiary of any auction lot provided by us. For that reason, we have a fully transparent, ethical pricing strategy guaranteed to raise more, which is unrivalled by any other service provider.
Silent Auction vs a Live Auction?
A live auction differs from a silent auction in that is takes place in a short amount of designated time at the event. This is hosted by a live auctioneer and is usually reserved for just a small number of higher-value items. The live auctioneer will entice and encourage your supporters outbid each other. Live auctions are fantastic way to raise money. But they should not be seen as an alternative to a silent auction. Instead, they work incredibly well in unison.
As live auctions have a small number of high value items, this limits the number of supporters in the room who can get involved. Whereas silent auctions offer many more lots of varying price points, which gives the opportunity for more supporter to be involved.
The silent auction runs throughout the evening and typically closes at the desert course, with the live auction starting shortly after.
Raffles and games such as Heads and Tails can also be included as an additional fundraising method at your event. The low entry value allows the opportunity for all guests to get involved, which can add up to a substantial amount of money. Full Event Fundraising can offer further guidance of this.
Ready to Host Your Own Silent Auction?
You should now feel equipped to go ahead and organise your silent auction event for charity. If you still have questions, or if you want to know how Full Event Fundraising can manage and maximise your fundraising efforts, then get in touch today!