Silent Benefit Auctions - Best Practices

  1. Consider audience demographics. Solicit donated items that would appeal to the people attending your event.
  2. Tap vendors. They have a vested interest in supporting your cause. Get commitments in writing.
  3. Count noses. Good rule of thumb is 30 percent of attendees bid in silent auction. If you have 100 attendees, don’t have more than 30 silent auction items.
  4. Promote, promote, promote. Alert attendees in advance what items you will offer using your website, email blasts and event program; include silent auction times.
  5. Vary the costs. Offer a variety of low- to high-priced items. Don’t take used items – it’s a silent auction not a garage sale.
  6. Choose the right setting. Typically the silent auction runs during cocktails. Make sure area has room to mingle is well lighted.
  7. Use bid sheets. Each auction item bid sheet should include item number, brief description, minimum bid and increments, and donor’s name.
  8. Make it easy to bid. Place pens at every item. Stagger close times. Have event MC or auctioneer announce each table closing.
  9. Keep check-out simple. Request attendees’ credit card numbers as guests arrive so volunteers can process silent auction purchases during the dinner. Then, following the live auction they can quickly check-out guests.
  10. Don’t forget to say “thanks.” List silent auction donors in your program. Send all of them a letter acknowledging the contribution after the event.