silent auction items

What To Do With Great Items That Don't Make The Cut for Live Auction

Last week I talked about how cutting your number of live auction items in half will actually bring in more revenue. Even though you are only going to have 5-6 live auction items, chances are that you will bring in more than 6 great donations in the process.

What to do with the other amazing items. 

Items that don't "make the cut" for the live auction, will naturally go in the silent auction, right? Wrong. There are a couple of things You can do with these big ticket items. 

1. Use it as a prize in Heads & Tails or for a raffle. Back before everyone had an iPad, organizations were getting these as donations and the auction committee always wanted the iPad on the live auction. Here's the deal though. The iPad only would sell for retail value or a couple hundred dollars over. I guess it was exiting to get $700 for a $500 item, but know what is more exciting? Getting $2000 for a $500 item. By using an item with a broad appeal as a raffle or Heads & Tails prize, it was easy to engage donors to participate. Not everyone would drop $700 for an item valued at $500, but it is easy to sell 200 raffle tickets or Heads & Tails beads at $10 a piece. 

2. Have a SUPER SILENT Auction. Whoa! This one is exciting. A Super Silent Auction is run by the auctioneer (cough*Sarah Knox*cough) during the silent auction. Rather than bidders writing their number on bid cards or bidding electronically, they would call out their bidder number and bid amount to the facilitator to write on a white board. It gains quite a bit of attention in the last 5 minutes of the bidding. This is set up in the same room as the silent auction. It is a lot of fun. 

3. Set up a display for "Almost Live" or "Premier Auction" Items in the center of the silent auction area, or right near check in so it's the first thing guests see. This is good because it honors the generous donors of the items ensuring they get a lot of recognition for the items. If using electronic bidding, have this as it's own category so bidders can easily find these items. 

How to determine which items make the cut for Live Auction or not.

For this, I will refer you to my blog series I did last fall on the 5 types of items you should include to create a dynamic live auction.  Just because an item has the highest value, doesn't mean it should automatically be in the live auction. A live auction lineup needs to be curated with careful thought and strategy in order to bring in the most revenue.

If you have want to engage bidders during your live auction and throughout the rest of your event, contact me via the form in my sidebar --> 

What To Do With Unsold Silent Auction Items

Last week I answered a common question I get from clients, "Can we sell unsold silent auction items before or after the live auction?" My answer was "NO!" However that leaves us with a conundrum: what can we do with unsold live auction items??

Lots of things!

  1. Remove minimum bids: You can decide at a certain point in the night that any silent auction items that have not been bid on, no longer have a minimum bid. It may be that for some of those more quirky donations, the valued minimum bid may have been too high to entice any bidders. If your concern is just getting those items out of your hands that night, this is the best option.
  2. FIRE SALE: Hosting an online fire sale on your organization's auction site after the  auction is a great way to manage any items that did not sell. This works with organizations that opt to use mobile bidding software. Companies like BidPal will work with you to create a specific auction site where people can register for the event, get updates and bid on items before or after the auction (if you choose to make it available). You will most likely get more revenue from this than you would with our option #1.
  3. Sell the items at an external site (like ebay or craigslist). This takes more effort, but it opens up your bidding audience to people looking for those specific items. I wouldn't take the time to do this with all the items, but if you have anything that is of higher value, but requires the bidding of specific tastes (art, jewelry, furniture, sports memorabilia, etc), this would be worth your time to try to reach those people for the sake of your organization.

If you have questions about your silent auction, I can work with you to answer those as well as things related to your live auction. 

Unsold Silent Auction Donations: Put on Live Auction?

I write my blog based on questions I get from clients. A recent (and common) question is "Can we sell unsold silent auction items on the live auction?" My answer is always NO! I see how this could seem like a good idea given that silent auction items tend to raise 60% of their retail value on average while live auction items routinely exceed their retail value so why not try to get that sort of profit for donations that missed their chance in the silent auction?

Here is my reasoning:

  1. If the items did not sell in the silent, the chance of them selling in the live auction is very slim.
  2. We need to be very conscientious of donors. If their item did not sell in the silent, we do not want to draw attention to it or sell it publicly for far less than it is worth.
  3. If it's done prior to the live auction, it will impact the value of the true live auction items and if it's done after the live auction it can leave the audience with the impression/memory of the auction being unsuccessful. 

Check back next week to see what to do with silent auction items that don't sell.

50 Ideas for Fundraising Auction Items:

People always ask me for ideas for their fundraisers. I want to give lists on an annual basis to help my clients. Here are 50 ideas for auction items* to get you started on your search for donations:

  1. Hotel Stays
  2. Massage at a local salon or chiropractic office
  3. Week at someone’s cabin
  4. Restaurant Gift Cards
  5. Theater Tickets
  6. Pet Grooming
  7. Lawn Care Service for a summer
  8. Cut and Color at a local Salon
  9. Family Portrait Services
  10. Major League Sports Tickets

Get the rest of the list right here!

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