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Must Have Live Auction Item #2: Meal/Dinner Party

These are one of my favorite things to sell ever and every auction should have one. What I like about this item is that you don't have to be well connected to have this item. You don't even need to know a chef, you just need to have someone who is willing to host a dinner party for 6-10 people and cook food and provide wine. This could be hosted at a popular restaurant or even in someone's home.

Criteria For a Successful Meal/Dinner Party Item:

Hosted by a likable person. Not necessarily a famous person. Just someone that people enjoy being around.  If you have a willing participant, but their personality is just a little choppy or hard to be around, no one will bid. 

Multiple Courses. Hors d'oeuvres, salad, dinner and dessert would be enough, but if your chef can do other courses (soup, cheese, whatever else all those extra forks are for type courses) , that makes the meal stand out more.

Wine. Must I say more? Wine or beer pairings included are a must!

6-10 people. I have found that this is the sweet spot for number of people included in successfully selling an item of this type. 4 people is too few and 12 can be too difficult to coordinate with guests.  

An Expiration Date. This is important so people actually claim their meal with the donor. Usually one year from the date of the event is a good expiration. This is also out of respect for the donor and their time. 


  • Chef's dinner at a highly anticipated new restaurant prior to the restaurant opening. 
  • Meal prepared by a chef featured on the Food Network (seriously, there is probably someone in your area featured on the food network) 
  • Meal prepared in YOUR home by the principal of the school. 
  • Meal in the home of a CEO of a fortune 100 company in your area with the CEO and spouse. Meal prepared by catering company. 
  • Authentic Italian dinner prepared by someone closely associated by the organization who grew up in Italy - secret family recipes. 
  • Dinner prepared by a well known local chef. 

Again, these are all just examples, but the possibilities are endless here. Just start brain storming with your auction committee and pick whatever sounds most fun to you. Contact me if you want to my professional feedback. I will be honest, because I want your even to be as successful as possible.

Earn 12% More at your Fundraising Auction

Opening your silent auction before the event begins will earn an average of 12% more revenue | Sarah Knox Benefit Auctions

Yesterday I had the chance to meet with a colleague in the industry who works with BidPal, an electronic bidding system. She shared with me an interesting result from a recent study they did with their clients.

They compared clients who used their system for their silent auction. Some of their clients only allowed bidders to view and bid on silent auction items during the night of the event, while other clients opt to open up bidding on their items before the event starts (sometimes a full week in advance). They found that the auctions that were available for bidding prior to the night of the event in the silent auction, raised 12% more than the auctions that were only open during the night of the event. 

There's an easy and profitable idea for you: open your silent auction up to attendees prior to the event. I've personally seen success with some of my clients doing this. It's a newer idea, but technology is providing us with these awesome opportunities.

Note: this statistic did not compare organizations that did not use an electronic bidding system. However, silent auctions tend to bring in more revenue when using an electronic bidding system because bidders receive text messages when they have been outbid and they can raise the bid again right from their smartphone or electronic bidding device provided by the company.