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Different Types Of Auctions

Author: Adie M.

Auctions are an effective way to raise funds for your nonprofit or charity organization. They work by selling items through competitive bidding so that you get the best or highest price possible.

It’s a win-win situation. The bidder has control over how much they are willing to spend on an item and the seller usually gets well over the item's actual value. This is an efficient way for nonprofits to raise funds as the seller can set the minimum price for items - thereby ensuring a profit if the items sell.

Here are some of the different types of auctions that you can utilize to raise funds for your nonprofit organization.


Live Auction

A live auction, otherwise known as an open auction, is the stereotypical auction that comes to mind when you hear the word. This is when there is a live audience and an auctioneer that explains the details of each item before commencing the bidding for each one.

The proceedings of this type of auction may vary depending on the preferences of the hosting organization but the basic principles remain the same.

Bidders get the chance to view all the items beforehand, usually physically or in a printed catalog, so that they know which items they want to bid on before the auction starts.

Once the auction begins, the auctioneer acknowledges when someone in the audience makes a bid. The bidding ends when no one wants to outbid the last bidder. Then, as the highest bidder, the person who made the last bid purchases the item for the amount they offered.

Live auctions are one of the fairest auction types as everyone has an equal chance to view and evaluate the auction items before the bidding. Bidders also witness the whole process in action so it is clear that there is no cheating going on.

Silent Auction

Silent auctions involve people placing their bids on a sheet of paper or with their mobile phones. Items are placed on tables so that people can view them and make a bid if they want to.

This is a great type of auction for nonprofit organizations to host as it is suitable for lower value items. You can even make larger bundles out of several smaller items to increase an item’s value.

Silent auctions are generally included in a fundraising event as something for donors to participate in when they arrive. The auctioneer or host then announces the highest bidder for each item at the end of the fundraiser.

This type of auction is ideal when you have a large variety of low- to mid-value items to auction off as it will attract many people to your event. Making sure you have some good items in your selection will help increase participation as people will return to popular items to check whether they are still the highest bid.

While it isn’t as exciting as a live auction, it can be a great way to raise extra funds at your main fundraising event.


Sealed Bid Auction

A sealed bid auction is when the bids are confidential. Thus, bidders don’t know who else is bidding on the items. These auctions can be held both online or live. Once all bids have been placed, the auctioneer or host announces the winning bidder.

In a live sealed bid auction, people usually submit their bids in sealed envelopes that the auctioneer opens at the end of the event. It is easy to achieve this same concept online with an auction platform.

This type of auction is preferable when the seller is open to different terms of sale and in situations where other factors may influence the sale. For example, while one bidder might place the highest offer, the seller may choose a different bidder who can pay a lower amount immediately.

Online Auction

Online auctions are similar to live auctions except that they take place online. This type of auction has become more popular over recent years as it is more efficient and easier to set up than other types of auctions.

For online auctions, nonprofit organizations list the items on their website or through an online auction platform, like BiddingOwl. As this requires no physical event location, more people can take part and bid on the items. This is very beneficial if your goal is fundraising.

These auctions are set for a specific period of time during which people can make their bids on items. Bidders are notified via email or text when someone outbids them. Then they can go back and make a higher offer if they choose to.

There are many benefits to online auctions, including having a wider reach and being more cost-effective and efficient.


Hybrid Auction

Hybrids auctions can be a combination of any of the different types of auctions mentioned above. One example of this is a Simulcast Auction. This happens when an organization hosts live auctions in multiple locations at once. They use online resources to allow bidders from multiple places to bid on the same items.

This widens the reach of the auction and can, therefore, help to raise more funds. However, online auctions may be a much simpler method to achieve the same effect.

Pre-bidding is another feature of some hybrid auctions - especially online ones. This process allows the prospective bidders to view all the items and place bids before the start of the auction. Pre-bidding helps the seller or nonprofit organization to decide on the starting bids for the items.

Final Thoughts On The Different Types Of Auctions

If you want to maximize the funds you raise and limit the expenses of hosting an event, online auctions are definitely the way to go. However, live auctions can be a fun and competitive event if you can get many donors to participate.

Either-or, auctions are an effective method of raising funds for your nonprofit or charity organization. These different types of auctions all have their benefits and downsides. So, make sure that you choose one that will be most effective for your needs.