10 Ways To Bring In Top Dollar at a Silent Auction

A huge thank you to Krystal Simpkins - who works with motivational speakers - for finding this wonderful article for Women In Hospitality.

Oscar Auction By I Love MemphisWith advances in technology, fundraising events like silent auctions are not what they used to be. Even so, they are still a fabulous way to bring in top dollar for a worthy cause. Here are 10 tips to help you make money hosting a silent auction:

1. Make personal requests. The single most important aspect of securing high-end items for a silent auction is making a personal, one-on-one request to a potential donor. Do not send a mass e-mail and expect items to flood into your event. Take the time to pick up the phone or make a personal visit to request an item.

2. Be specific. If you have an item in mind, ask for it. Potential donors may not be quick to offer a valuable piece of merchandise or costly service, but will often say yes when it is requested. For instance, if you are seeking a travel adventure, ask the travel agency owner for exactly the type package and certain destination you are hoping to secure. 

3. Make connections. Call in those favors. Ask friends to ask their friends in business for items that will reel in the cash. Host a wine and cheese with your closest chums in the know, brainstorm together for auction item ideas and ask them to pool their resources. Remember, six degrees of separation is real and everybody knows somebody.

4. Call on artists. Art sells and everyone has different tastes. Offer plenty of pieces in a variety of styles from both familiar names, as well as starving artists looking to get their work recognized. Remember, each piece is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. When it comes to art, if someone loves a piece, they will be more than willing to part with their dollars to place it in their home or business.

5. Create experiences. Weekend getaways to the beach or mountains, cruises in both sunny and icy settings, spa retreats, even murder mystery dinner adventures are experiences many will pay plenty to enjoy. 

6. Hype it up. Do your public relations work and create buzz about your silent auction. You can have the finest merchandise in the world, but if no one attends and bids, it is all for nothing. Utilize print media and television, plus social networking on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Also consider using smartphone apps to enhance your event. This advice comes from Crowdcomms.com who use smartphone apps to help their clients raise the maximum amount for their cause.

7. Extend personal invitations. Sell tickets, but offer personal invitations to those in your close circle, plus any big spenders.

8. Sell sponsorships. Capitalize on advertising dollars by selling space on a step and repeat, securing a business to sponsor the bar, and allowing business logo items for a fee at the silent auction.

9. Set the stage. Create a warm and inviting environment at your silent auction that encourages guests to stick around, mingle and bid.

10. Follow up. Once your event is winding down, be sure to extend your appreciation to all those who contributed. When the night has ended, do not forget the thank you notes. Remember, you may be calling on these same donors next year and want them to feel good about contributing to your silent auction.
As you can see, a silent auction can reel in the big bucks. Roll up your sleeves, make those connections and create a spectacular event.

Image courtesy of ilovememphis via Flickr.