Silent Auction Pricing Tips

These 10 pricing tips for silent auction items will definitely help you raise more money. Silent auction pricing is an art that strikes a fair balance between bidding from bargain hunters and dedicated supporters.

Silent Auction Pricing Tips

Top 10 Silent Auction Pricing Tips

  1. Assign all bidders a number (don’t use names)
  2. Don’t have too many silent auction items
  3. Bundle small or similar items together into themed baskets
  4. Group your auction items into themed areas or tables
  5. Have different bid closing times on different areas
  6. Open the bidding for each item at 40% of retail value
  7. Use silent auction bid sheets with predefined bid increments
  8. Offer an immediate Buy It Now price of 150% of retail value
  9. Provide a well-lit attractive display area with plenty of space
  10. Prominently feature your best silent auction items (1 or 2 per area)

Here’s why these silent auction pricing tips will raise more money:

1) Use Bidding Numbers – Sometimes people won’t bid on something because a friend of theirs has already bid. Using anonymous numbers on the bid sheet means more bids on each item. Plus, the preregistration of bidders greatly simplifies the auction checkout process. Read our in-depth article on Tips For Running A Silent Auction.

2) Fewer Silent Auction Items – Having fewer items means more people bidding on each item and higher selling prices. Remember that some people won’t bid at all and most people will only bid on a half dozen or so items. Plus, most couples bid as one buying unit.So, fewer items means more competition and higher selling prices. See our articles on Silent Auction Basket Tips and the Top 10 Silent Auction Items.

3) Bundle Related Items Together – You want to keep the number of silent auction item units to a manageable number and the best way to do that is buy bundling items into a much more valuable bidding unit. In this case, the sum of the parts is far greater when sold together. For example, bundle your four Disney World ParkHopper passes together with an Orlando vacation condo week and airline tickets or a gas card. See our articles on 101 Fundraising Auction Donation Sources and Auction Consignment Items for how to get these items.

4) Group Items In Themed Areas – Group your items into four or five related themes such as Sports, Luxury, Home, Vacation, Fun, etc. Use primary color codes to visually identify the areas such as orange, blue, red, green. Don’t jam everything together. Spread your auction tables around the room. Give people plenty of space to move around other people and mingle with friends and acquaintances. Sports themes can benefit from this article on how to get Auction Donations From Pro Sports Teams.

5) Close Themed Areas At Different Times – Having staggered closing times for the different areas allows you to remind people to get in their final bids. 15 minutes is a nice time increment between areas and have your best area be the last to close. Highlight the two or three best items within each area with a last call from the emcee to hurry and get this great package deal. Or, if you have items with very few bids, then play them up to encourage bidding. Read this article on our best Silent Auction Tips.

6) Open Bidding at 40% Of Retail Price – Don’t price your opening bid too low because you are only going to get a certain number of bids per item. Forty percent is a good place to start, although some recommend starting at 50% if you don’t expect to have a large number of bidders per item. Make the opening amount an even one, such as $40 instead of $37. If you don’t have a retail price, get a good estimated value from the donor. Read more in this article on Silent Auction Do’s & Dont’s.

7) Use Predefined Bid Increments on Bid Sheets – Don’t waste bidding activity by letting people write in bids for a dollar more or $5 more, etc. Have the bid increments already written in on the bid sheet so that all a bidder has to do is write their number next to the next bid amount. Aim for four more bids to nearly reach the retail value of the item. Example: 40%, 60%, 75%, 85%, 95%. Approximate the percentages and use round dollar amounts for the bid price increments such as $20, $25, $40, etc. and not $17.77 or $23.41.

8) Offer A Buy It Now Price – Offering a Grab It Now option appeals to people who want something right then and don’t want to waste their time coming back to bid again. If you can sell an item fast for top dollar, then go for it! When people see that desirable items are already sold, that feeling of scarcity will encourage them to lock up any other item that they really want.

9) Well Lit Attractive Displays – Think like a retailer and create attractive displays, particularly for your most valuable items. Leave lots of room between items. Turn the lights up so people can see clearly what you are offering. Use large fonts on the descriptions. Always place the bid sheets up front with an attached pen and some cheap reading glasses nearby in stemware. Read this article on Unique Silent Auction Item Ideas.

10) Prominently Feature Your Best Items – Each of your themed silent auction areas should have a central item or two that is the centerpiece of that area. It should be the focal point of that section and preferably have large signage explaining the highlights of this offering. Make every effort to dress up the display with prop items, bows, colored spotlights, etc. Read our article on 50 Fundraising Auction Tips.