50 Fundraising Auction Tips

At charity events, the fundraising auction activity is what raises the most money. Here are 50 fundraising auction tips to help you maximize your success with advice on both live and silent auctions, plus how to blend them together for best results.

25 Live Fundraising Auction Tips

  1. Saturday Night – You’ll raise more money by holding your event on Saturday night.
  2. Live Auction Proceeds – The live auction is where you’ll raise the most money.
  3. Professional Auctioneer – Using a pro auctioneer will double or triple your results.
  4. Live Auction Timing – Hold your live auction at 8:30 p.m., no later than 9:00 p.m.
  5. Live Auction Length – Your live auction should be short, no more than 30 minutes.
  6. Build Excitement – You want things to build to a crescendo about 20-25 minutes in.
  7. Live Auction Publicity – Build interest by publicizing your best items before the event.
  8. Auction Program – Create a program listing the best items, but no prices and thank donors.
  9. Item Displays – Create attractive displays of your featured live auction items.
  10. Item Photos – Use professional quality images for visual display during live auction bidding.
  11. Stage Lighting – Keep the stage brightly lit during your live auction. No spotlights!
  12. Sound System – Rent a high-quality sound system so people can hear everything clearly.
  13. Bid Spotters – Place four bid spotters to observe different sections to spot every bid.
  14. Bid Recorders – Place the person recording the winning bids on stage near the auctioneer.
  15. Live Auction Item Prices – Never publish any pricing or reserve prices in your program.
  16. Table Displays – Use tent cards describing your top auction items on each dinner table.
  17. Live Auction Opening Bids – Let the professional auctioneer set the opening bid amounts.
  18. Auction Decorations – Use balloons for auction area decorations and focal points.
  19. Flowers – Don’t waste money on using flowers as centerpieces on your dinner tables.
  20. Mobile Bidding – Enable auction phone bidding on your items by those who can’t attend.
  21. Appeal Bid – Always do an appeal bid at your live auction (paddle raise, impact auction).
  22. Best Live Auction Items – Unique one-of-a-kind experiences and exotic vacations do best.
  23. Bidder Paddles – If you use bid spotters, you can avoid this unnecessary expense.
  24. Custom Bid Paddles – If you do use paddles, then make them custom keepsakes.
  25. Thank Your Item Donors – Thank them publicly at your event, in the program & by mail.

25 Silent Auction Fundraiser Tips

  1. Silent Auction Layout – Spread out your silent auction into different sections.
  2. Silent Auction Sections – Assign primary colors to each section to make it stand out.
  3. Decorations – Decorate with balloons in arches, clusters, and other eye catching shapes.
  4. Closing Times – Stagger your section closing times & have some close after live auction.
  5. Auction Layout – Intersperse self-serve food stations amongst your sections.
  6. Traffic Flow – Avoid U-shaped configurations and leave plenty of room to browse.
  7. Lighting – Make it brightly lit and spotlight easels with section color & closing times.
  8. Auction Item Displays – To maximize bids, make them eye-catching and attractive.
  9. Item Displays – Elevate some items to eye level by using pedestals or stacked boxes.
  10. Item Themes – DO NOT group your items by theme or price range. Scatter good stuff.
  11. Descriptions – Print item descriptions in huge fonts readable from 4-5 feet away.
  12. Descriptions – Use bullet points, not paragraphs. Always write your own descriptions.
  13. Silent Auction Programs – Print up programs listing donors and cataloging auction items.
  14. Electronic Bidding – Use electronic or mobile bidding at large events to maximize bids.
  15. Buy It Now – Include a Buy It Now price where someone can grab that item immediately.
  16. Bid Sheets – For top results, use bid sheets that include minimum bid increments.
  17. Raffles – Sell raffle tickets in the silent auction area for guy stuff like Beer For A Year.
  18. High End Items – Include several high-end items in your last area to close.
  19. Unique Items – Highlight auction items that are unique because they draw the most bids.
  20. Use Consignment items – Autographed memorabilia, balloon rides, vacation rentals, etc.
  21. Item Count – Don’t have too many items, consolidate some low-end items together.
  22. Call Attention – Event emcee and live auctioneer should help promote silent auction.
  23. Make It Fun – Promote your silent auction as the fun area to hang out with food & drinks.
  24. Opening Bids – Use 40% of Fair Market Value, then increments of roughly 10% of FMV.
  25. Registration – Register all your bidders up front and checkout is a breeze for everyone.

Hope you found these 50 fundraising auction tips useful and profitable. Have fun with your auction!