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Silent Auction Ideas

Silent Auction Ideas

Are you looking to host a silent auction but aren’t quite sure where to start? You’re not the only one! When it comes to fundraising, silent auctions have an air of sophistication around them. They’re traditional but still exciting and seemingly new and different for attendees. They draw a lot of attention and often come with great organic publicity through word-of-mouth conversations. However, if you’re going to host a silent auction – make it one to remember; here’s how.

Hosting your silent auction online

If you have thought about hosting a silent auction, you may have explored a lot of traditional routes. However, you’ll be making a huge dent into your profits by hosting the event in person. So before you think about a big glamorous ballroom with a bar, three-course dinner and a comedic host,consider saving yourself a lot of time, effort and money by hosting online through a digital provider such as Givergy.

Not only will online protect your profits, but you’ll also quickly realize you can maximize your audience, spread the word easier amongst communities and spend less time post-event sending out items. 

Deciding to move your silent auction event online can look different compared to an in-person event in many ways. However, there is one very big aspect that remains the same. The amazing items that are up for grabs.

Ideas for your silent auctions

It’s one area that a lot of people struggle with. But your ideas for what items to sell at your silent auction are the difference between making it a huge success or a flop. Therefore, don’t skim over it as a last minute decision. 

Make sure you have a good variety of expensive and cheaper items, larger and smaller items that are easy to transport and most importantly, always have that one huge ticket item that everyone wants. 

Sourcing your items can be difficult. You may look for charitable donations in some cases. Find a good deal on the second hand market. You could use a provider like Givergy to help with auction item procurement, or even buy something for face value and hope to auction it off for more. But first things first, let’s get some ideas together for the types of items you can put up for bidding at your silent auction.

Classic silent auction items

Memorabilia

Collectors items are always a huge hit at silent auctions, especially memorabilia. If you’re raising funds for a baseball team, why not look to source some vintage baseball cards. You could get signed shirts, limited edition caps, framed photographs or even game sneakers worn in an iconic game. If you’re hosting a sporting themed silent auction we highly recommend these items.

Event tickets

A silent auction isn’t complete without an event ticket! From concerts to sporting events, there isn’t one person who wouldn’t want to win a ticket to the event of the year. It might be with a famous singer or even the Super Bowl. Having an event ticket is a classic but remember it could just be a ticket to the local theater for two. You don’t have to always go big.

Wine

These items are usually very popular at silent auctions. A bottle of wine can be an exciting prize if you sell it in such a way. You could find a bottle that was made the same year your charity was founded, a bottle that comes from the local area or even a bottle voucher up to a certain amount for a famous winery. 

Artwork

An absolute classic when it comes to silent auctions. Artwork is a crowd favorite and what’s even better – artists love to get their name out there. You can find lots of expensive artwork online but speaking to many artists you will soon discover they are keen to help out charities. They may be able to donate a piece of work, give a large discount or provide some initial sketches that they’re willing to let go of. The resale market is where artists make their name, so you’ll often see huge profits with these items. 

Fitness Package

In recent years, fitness packages have become more and more popular at silent auctions. As the health and fitness industry booms, more people than ever are trying to get in shape. A fitness package is a great item. It could be an at home gym piece of equipment, a starter kit filled with running shoes and gadgets or you could auction off a 10-session package with a PT (personal trainer). Just like with artists, PT’s understand the need to get their name out there, so you might be able to get this at a discount with the promise of advertisement to hundreds of people.

Big ticket items

Travel packages

Possibly the most sought after item to find at a silent auction. A vacation. Travel packages don’t always need to include the entire vacation. It could be two return flights to a particular destination, a week’s stay at a popular villa or hotel, or even the rental of a campervan for two weeks. If you’re including a travel package in your silent auction make sure it is one of the items you advertise the most – everyone is in need of a vacation after years at home, so they’ll be desperate to grab a deal for a good cause!

Celebrity meet-ups

This item works perfectly if you’re hosting a silent auction for sports teams. Imagine as a basketball fan, you could meet the infamous Michael Jordan just by bidding some cash. Of course, there are more current players you could find too, but we find that success often occurs with players that are nearing the end of their career when their focus isn’t solely on playing the game.

Fine dining package

Fine dining does not mean a three course dinner at your local restaurant – although there is also no harm in that being an item you can bid on. When we say fine dining, we’re listing it as a big ticket item, so think big. It could be restaurants with michelin stars, a private chef experience, or big 10 course dinners. There’s often a dress code in these places so be sure to do your research when selecting your fine dining item.

Pro golf lessons

Who doesn’t love to play golf on the weekends? It’s one thing playing the game, but getting some lessons from a pro is a great activity. What’s even better is that pro golf lessons are regularly donated to charity events so if you can find a charitable celebrity, it won’t be the first time they’ve been approached about donating. Increasing your chances of a ‘yes’.

Box theater tickets

While any event ticket is a great item for the silent auction, a box theater ticket is a whole new level which is why we list it as a big ticket item. It’s also great for mixing up the types of items you have up for auction at your event. While sporting, active and travel items are incredibly popular, for some people a night at the theater is something they look forward to all year. Imagine how much they’d donate to watch the show in a box.

Concert backstage pass

Just like we mentioned with box theater tickets, backstage passes are a whole new level to an ordinary concert ticket. If you’re not sure about which singer or band to buy backstage passes for, why not look into a variety concert or even a festival. The Jingle Bell Ball is a great event to get backstage passes for because there’s something for everyone.

Hot air balloon ride

Go big or go home, right? A hot air balloon ride or helicopter ride is a great extravagant ticket item. It’s something that is guaranteed to get big donations because people will know that the item costs a lot of money. What’s more, it’s something nearly everyone will want to do but few have actually experienced. So you should expect lots of big bids for this item.

The following items are self-explanatory so we’re going to bullet list them below for you.

Online items to bid for:

  • TV streaming service
  • Tech gadgets
  • Online classes
  • Amazon Prime
  • Virtual lessons

Less expensive basket ideas:

  • Local products hamper
  • Spa hamper
  • Chocolate gift basket
  • Cocktail hamper
  • Car detailing hamper
  • Lottery hamper
  • Sports team hamper 

Filler items that every silent auction needs:

There’s nothing worse for someone attending your event to realize that they can’t afford to bid on anything. That’s what your filler items are for. To make sure that no matter who is in attendance, everyone can afford to bid on something. Not only does this make your audience view the event in a positive light, it also means that every penny available is raised. If someone comes to your event with $50, you want to make sure there’s an item they can bid on. Think of store gift cards and restaurant vouchers.

Find out more about our silent auction features or if you’d like to know more about running one, see silent auction rules, silent auction bid sheet or our complete how to run a silent auction guide.  

Emily Clare

Emily Clare

Senior Fundraising and Events Consultant

Emily is an experienced and passionate fundraising and events consultant, working with and supporting clients on their special events and fundraising campaigns all over the world.