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The 6 Do’s and Don’ts of an Event Auction

An event auction is a fantastic way to raise funds. Sponsors and vendors can donate must-have prizes, attendees will feel good about donating to the cause while trying to take home some new treasures, and your event will raise funds in the process—everyone wins!

But while auctions are a go-to event fundraising activity, they can easily get out of control. Over the years, we’ve learned exactly what works and what doesn’t—here are just a few of the do’s and don’ts we’ve learned firsthand:

DO have a live auction with a solid plan and a maximum of five high-end items

Live auctions may seem more exciting than their silent counterparts, but they are extremely time-consuming, can eat into your program and, if too long, will lose a crowd. If you do plan on holding a live auction, the trick is to auction a few items (maximum of five) that will make a big splash. We’re talking prizes like a car, a fancy trip, or a boat—things that will keep the audience on the edge of their seats. If you’re auctioning off an array of smaller items like gift certificates, artwork, signed memorabilia, etc., then a silent auction is your best bet. These are more attractive to a wider range of guests and will keep your event on schedule.

DO showcase your auction items

At any auction, it’s important to explain not only what the package includes, but where or who it’s from. A well-informed bidder is a more confident bidder, and by explaining the perks of each package you’re bound to have higher interest. This also gives you a chance to give a shout-out to the sponsor or vendor who donated the item. You can even showcase your auction online before the event to jump start the bidding.

DON’T start the bids too high

Silent auctions cater to that little part in all of us that loves a good deal. Starting the bidding at a reasonable rate doesn’t mean the item will close at a low value—it only means that more people will want in on the deal. Plus, a high starting price could scare off potential bidders.

DO have something for everyone

Not everyone attending your event is able (or willing) to spend $1000+ on an auction package. Since you want everyone at your event to participate in your auction, be sure to offer some smaller-ticket items. When everyone feels like they can join in on the fun it can increase the fundraising potential.

DO put the auction in a convenient, trafficked, highly visible area

A silent auction is a much more casual affair than a live auction, and it’s a far from being quiet! Attendees love to mix and mingle in front of the silent auction table. If you set the auction up in a place where people are more likely to gather and chat, you’re likely to increase the number of bids.

DON’T wait until the last minute

It’s never too early to start planning for your auction. Working out donations with vendors and sponsors can be a very time-consuming process, and before you know it, the event has arrived. You don’t want to miss out on the chance to offer certain auction items because you started looking too late—get those plans started early.

If you need help planning an auction for your event, but aren’t sure where to start, let us know! We have plenty more tips and tricks for holding a successful event auction that we are more than happy to share.

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Years Combined Experience


In-Kind Donations Procured


Sponsorship & Fundraising Calls Over Last 12 Years


Corporations Researched for Fundraising Opportunities