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Running A Silent Auction Fundraiser

Author: Adie M.

Hosting a silent auction fundraiser is a great way to raise funds for a project or cause. A silent auction is usually held as a fundraising activity at an event with other activities for donors to take part in.

If you’re interested in running a silent auction fundraiser, here is a foolproof guide to help ensure a successful event!

Form Your Silent Auction Committee

The first step in hosting a silent auction is to form a committee to plan, organize, and manage the event. Recruit help from some of your regular volunteers and assign everyone a task. 

Running an event all on your own is stressful and you’ll more than likely overlook something. So, forming a dedicated committee can help split up the tasks and take some weight off your shoulders.


Solicit Item Donations

Next, you need to solicit item donations so that your attendees have things to bid on. As this is a fundraising event, you will want to keep your expenses as low as possible. 

To do this, reach out to your network. Ask friends, colleagues, and family members who own or are involved in local businesses to donate items. In return, you can offer free advertising for their business. 

One of the teams you formed in the step above could handle PR and marketing and ensure that all businesses that donated are recognized in the marketing campaigns for your silent auction. 

Collect the donation items as soon as possible so that you can easily keep track of all your auction items.

Decide On A Time And Place

With any event, you need to decide on a suitable date, time, and venue. Make sure that you select a date in advance to give people plenty of time to plan for it and save the date. 

When deciding on a venue, it is important that you pick one that is affordable as you want to keep your costs low. School or church halls are often a good option for nonprofit organizations to use. 

Choose A Fun Activity 

Silent auctions are often incorporated with some other form of activity to keep attendees entertained for the duration of the event. 

You want your donors to have fun and stick around until the end of your event. So, consider hosting a dinner or have a live band that your attendees can enjoy while they peruse the auction items and make their bids. 


Market Your Silent Auction Fundraiser

One of the most important aspects of running a silent auction fundraiser is its marketing. You need to start marketing your event well in advance. This will help create awareness and make sure that people will be available on that day. 

To publicize your silent auction, you can make flyers, print advertisements in the newspaper, or make posters to pin up around the area where you plan to host the event. 

It is also essential to focus on online marketing tactics. Send out details about the event to your email list, post on your social media, and send updates/reminders as it gets closer to the time of the auction. 

Posting previews of your auction items is an excellent way to create some excitement and garner interest from potential bidders. It is also a good idea to use social media advertising to reach more people. 

Organize And Plan

Another thing to really focus on is the planning and organizing of your silent auction fundraiser. You want to make sure that everything goes off without a hitch. Doing so will help ensure a seamless and enjoyable experience for your guests and bidders. 

Plan your auction from start to finish. Make sure that every volunteer knows exactly what their role is and what they are meant to help with.

This step also involves pricing all your auction items. You will want to make sure that you have a good mix of items - both expensive and inexpensive. If you have good variation in the starting bids, more people will likely bid on the different items. 

It is also important that you have a diverse range of products. You want things that appeal to both men and women, and possibly even children. 

If you need some inspiration, check out this article on Unique Silent Auction Ideas.

Choose Your Bidding Method

After you have organized everything, you need to choose how people will bid on the item. Traditional silent auctions involve placing a bid sheet at each auction item.

These bid sheets will include the name of the item, a brief description, and who donated it. The rest of the sheet will have blank lines intended for bidders to fill in their details and the amount they want to bid. 

If you choose to use bid sheets, make sure that you have clipboards and pens for each one so that people can easily write down their bids. 

Alternatively, you can use an online silent auction system that easily tracks bids. For example, with BiddingOwl, people can use their tablets, computers, or smartphones to make silent bids. They can easily view auction items and make bids right from their mobile phones.

This also makes tracking bids much easier for the auction manager and alerts bidders if they have won or if they were outbid.


Set Bidding Rules

Setting some rules before your auction can help ensure that everyone understands the process. Some bidding rules may include:

  • Set minimum bids for all auction items.
  • Use full dollar amounts.
  • Bidders have to bid more than the previous bids.
  • Bids won’t count if they are submitted after the auction closes.

Decide How To End Your Silent Auction

Lastly, you need to decide how you want to close your silent auction fundraiser. You could choose a set time or just suddenly announce that the bidding is closed. 

Once you’ve closed the bidding, collect all bid sheets and announce the winners for each auction item. Then the bidders must come and pay their bids to receive their items. Always make sure that you have cash for change and have a system that allows you to accept credit cards.

If you follow all of these steps, you can easily host a successful silent auction fundraiser for your nonprofit or charity organization.