How to Run a Silent Auction

When considering how to run a silent auction, there are several important variables involved. In this article we will discuss scheduling, budgeting, event planning, auction item procurement and online auction software.

Scheduling
Giving your organization enough time to plan the event is crucial when considering how to plan an auction. Beginning the process at least 6-8 months in advance is suggested. This will offer your organization enough time to plan an auction and successfully meet or exceed your fundraising goal. When organizations plan a special event without allowing sufficient time to organize, the results generally show in the bottom line.

Budgeting
Financial planning and tracking is a key ingredient to a successful fundraising auction. Budgeting is a primary consideration when asking the question of how to plan an auction. The amount of money you have in your budget is the first consideration as planning a fundraising event will require an initial investment. Your next step is to set your fundraising goal.

Event Planning
A silent auction can be held as a stand-alone event, or part of another fundraising event, such as a gala dinner or charity golf tournament. For a silent auction your organization will want to set up a display featuring all auction items. Making the actual display aesthetically appealing is a great marketing tool. You may want to consider assigning volunteers with decorating skills to this job. The display area will be a focus of the silent auction event as this is how attendees are able to view the auction items, read descriptions and estimated values and place bids for each item on silent auction bid sheets.

Bids are closed at a set time with an announcement made announcing the last-round of bidding. Once closed, the winning bidder is notified and can collect and pay for their items.

Auction items
It is important to consider your audience in terms of your auction items. Unique items that will appeal to those who are bidding will enhance the success of the auction in reaching your fundraising goal. Perhaps these unique vacation packages and sports memorabilia are options for you.

As well, your strategy in soliciting donations is a consideration. Asking those businesses and individuals who you have a relationship with, and groups who share your nonprofit mission statement is a good place to start.

Software and Advertising
Charity auction software has made it less expensive to plan an auction given that advertising and invitation costs are greatly reduced. You can post announcements on your organization’s web site, send email invitations, and distribute a press release to local media announcing the event and listing the web address where online bids can be made. Your donors can even place bids online.

Here is a link to our sister website for many more free resources on how to plan an auction.