Your Comprehensive Guide to a Successful Charity Auction

The charity auction has become a modern-day go-to solution for everyone planning on raising some money for one cause or another. These successful fundraising initiatives apply for both profit and nonprofit organizations, and they indeed have very high potential in achieving those particular goals. Apart from this, they are also great ways of bringing people together, of creating venues for them to network and, ultimately, to unite entire communities in a very distinctive way.

Picture of Magnifying glass highlighting charity

Still, how do you go about a charity auction? This is the central question we’re attempting to answer through this piece. Here is your comprehensive guide to the perfect charity auction that will show you the ins and outs, give one some ideas on how to organize it, teach you how to select the items that ought to be auctioned and much, much more.

What Are the Keys to a Successful Charity Auction?

Organizing a charity auction might seem pleasant at first, but when you truly get to delve in all the planning, brainstorming, and finding appropriate ideas that will generate profit, you might find it more challenging than you initially thought. Therefore, we’ve selected and prepared some pathways to success, to ensure you organize the auction of the season. Here they are.

Creativity is your yellow-brick road

Nothing undermines a charity auction more than the lack of creativity. Keeping inside the box will lead you nowhere other than, you’ve guessed it, the inside of the box itself. This is unquestionably something you don’t want. Therefore, the solution is to get as creative as you can possibly be.

Apply the creativity principle in absolutely every step of the way. Start off by being creative with the items you will be putting up for auctioning. You can find details on how to get them as well as unique silent auction items ideas in a paragraph below, but, for now, focus on their source.

One thing you need to be aware off right from the start is that the more exceptional your auctioning items will be, the more people will be drawn to the bid and, therefore, the more money you will make. A small example can show you just that. It’s one thing to put up for auction a table and a wholly different one to offer a weekend in Paris. Everyone can buy a table absolutely anywhere, but trips to Paris are worth people’s while and money, for that matter.

Tip – go for valuable items instead of every-day ones.

Ordinarily, auction items can be divided into two categories:

  1. No-risk charity auction items
  2. Out of the box ones

No-risk involved items

  • A golfing experience weekend on a high-profile golf course
  • Tickets to a concert with a very well-known artist that appeals to the masses
  • A brewery tour or wine tasting
  • Tickets for a Vegas show
  • Tickets to Disneyland
  • A chance to ride the Napa Valley wine train
  • A ski getaway
  • Being a NASCAR driver for a day
  • A Shopping spree at Bloomingdale’s

Out of the box items for a charity auction

  • A chance to meet a celebrity. If you go for this idea, try to make it a national celebrity rather than a local one. You will be surprised at how willing they are to do their part for the community and help good causes.
  • The opportunity of training with an NFL team for a day
  • Visiting heritage sites one wouldn’t ordinarily be able to so easily
  • A trip to the zoo and the ability to pet some of the less dangerous animals, such as a giraffe or penguins
  • Organizing a bachelor’s night can be an amazing thing to bid on as well, as long as you make it exceptional, by giving it certain themes, for example.

Network, network, network

You need to go about networking as the foundation stone of your charity auction. Evidently, the more people you bring into the event, the better. To organize it, as well as to participate in it and actually bid on the items you’ve so carefully selected. Ask all the people you interact with what can they bring in terms of things to auction for charity?

Find out and include in your charity auction anyone who might know a celebrity, no matter what type. It can be actors, sports people, singers or painters. Apart from knowing famous personalities they might also bring to the table exceptional items to auction, such as unreleased photographs or autographs.

Another category of people you might want to attract via networking is collectors. They can bring collectibles such as the following auction items for charity events:

  • rare coins
  • pieces of furniture
  • old books
  • hand written notes and love letters from a century ago
  • road signs – for example, old road signs signaling the world famous Route 66 are sought after on a high scale
  • Coke bottles from the 50s
  • action figures in mint condition
Route 66 sign

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Think about the people who can bring you items your bidders cannot buy today anymore. If your charity auction is filled with things bidders can buy off on ebay, you have not reached your goals. It’s much easier for them to stay at home and shop online from different sites than to be involved in an auction.

Promoting the charity auction

As you may already know, an event devoid of promotion is useless. Even if you manage to amass the greatest treasures for people to bid on, if no one knows about the auction itself, it’s simply no use. Luckily for you, promotion is another key area where you can use your networking skills and connections. The equation is pretty simple, as a matter of fact. The more people you involve in the event, the more will know. They will come, and they will bid.

The surest and fastest way for all of them to get acquainted with your charity auction is via the internet, of course. You can also spread some fliers around town and put up some signs, but they will not guarantee a mass of people will see them. People tend to walk on by without taking a second glance at fliers on their windshield. Not to mention the fact that it will cost you money to print and spread them. There’s also the paper waste issue you need to take into account if you go for fliers or posters.

If you were searching for live auction ideas, you might be interested in finding out that the best way to promote an event is via social networks. The first step here is to create an event on Facebook and simply invite as many people as you can, in the thousands if you are able to. The invitation goes right into their notifications, and they will see it. You can also send bulk emails if you happen to know people’s addresses.

After creating the event itself, you can also whip up a fast and simplistic website. Most of them are free, and it will take you a tiny amount of time to do it. The final step is to create a Twitter account for your charity auction and regularly tweet news and updates about the event. Make sure to list all the events as clearly as possible, as well as the date and the site.

As long as we’re on the topic of the online world, it brings us to the following.

Be Open to Online Bidding

If your charity auction is a physical event, that doesn’t mean it should be shut down to people who cannot be present. Think about online auctions for nonprofits.

The main benefit we all got from the expansion of the online age is that we are now able to communicate with each other in real time, no matter in what part of the planet we might find ourselves. Allow that idea to aid your event.

Open it up to people from other states, for example, and even from other countries. In this way, your market will expand exponentially. Your followers and possible bidders, and, thusly, the ones who will bring the money, will increase in number by the thousands.

If you think this to be a good idea and if you, the charity auction organizer, plan on using it, here are some things to keep in mind and to help you get going.

  • Do some research and find out if it’s possible to hold such an auction in your town.
  • Check the legal requirements that regulate a charity auction such as this one.
  • Find out what your internet plan is and discuss with your provider the possibility of upping it for a short time, during the auction itself.
  • Download charity auction software that will help you manage an online auction.
  • If you believe your buyers will be from other countries as well, make sure you have a way of rapidly and safely shipping all the physical objects they might be bidding on.
  • Concerning benefit auction ideas, create a special section of the auction dedicated to international auctioneers. People from other continents will have a hard time enjoying their wine trip through Napa Valley if they have to acquire a visa and pay for very expensive plane tickets to get there.
    Building on this, it might not be a very good idea to allow international auctioneers to bid for cars and other motors. It will be tough to send them their prize and very expensive as well.
  • Make sure you create a section on your website clearly stating all the rules. This subpage will absolve you of any legal accusations afterward. Have people click ‘accept’ on the Terms and Conditions page.
  • You can even have your charity auction televised. The ROOT Sports American network, for example, hosts the Penguins Charity Auction. You can try to find out if they will run yours as well or if they will broadcast a commercial. You may also ask them to donate if they are willing to or sponsor your websites in any way possible.
    Evidently, this network is just an example. Try your luck with others too, as well as with companies which might lend a hand to a good cause.

Charity Auction Ideas and Prizes

No matter the type of auction you are organizing, be it a silent auction, a live one or one for schools, here are some great benefit auction ideas you can use.

Miscellaneous ideas

  • A professional chef to come and cook for your party
  • A boating cruise on a local lake or river
  • A patio makeover
  • A limo service for whatever the highest bidder wants. Make sure to limit this to New Year’s, Christmas party, wedding day or birthday to stay away from unpleasant situations.
  • His and hers bicycles
  • All the dues paid for the local country club
  • A hot air balloon ride
  • Free advertising on a billboard for a local business or entrepreneur
  • A live animal
  • High-end purses, scarves, clothes, bags or shoes for both men and women
  • Fresh flowers or fruit delivered to the highest bidder once a week for a year
  • One free coffee every day from the local coffee shop
  • Free gas for a year. You can divide it into 52 gift cards, for example, each worth $50
  • Gondola rides for couples
  • Behind-the-scenes or VIP passes to a concert
  • Helicopter rides
  • A unique tour of a famous movie studio, such as Universal or Warner Brothers
  • A complete set of luggage from a high-end retailer

Universal Studios Earth Logo

Education ideas

  • A paid parking spot for a student or one of his or her parents close to the university entrance for a year
  • A chance for children to ride home from school in a fire truck or a police car
  • Visiting the fire department or police offices and buildings for children
  • Excellent seats at a graduation ceremony
  • All expenses paid prom dress or tuxedo for a lucky teenager
  • Buying a day off for a teacher. Everybody can bid on this, not just the teachers themselves
  • An organized class party, all expenses paid, with take-out food, games, and special guests, such as superhero impersonators
  • Paid specialized courses, such as literature, history, archaeology, fine arts, painting or pottery

Ideas for the entire community

  • Dinner cooked and served entirely by the mayor and his family
  • A local historical tour by a professor
  • A hike with the local boy or girl scouts
  • The chance to play a part in a local theater production. Keep in mind that it needs to be a non-speaking part, so as not to disturb the theater company
  • Putting the highest bidder’s or auctioneer’s name on a park bench to preserve his or her memory
  • Private tours of business and factories in town
  • 5 o’clock tea, UK style, at the local botanical gardens or art gallery
  • A bar crawl for the winner and 5 of his friends. Choose appropriate locations and pub owners who are willing to support your idea and make donations.

Organizing a charity auction or even auctions is a fantastic idea and one of the most delightful and rewarding things you’ll ever do. Check out our guide before you get to work and, as a final tip, always think about the cause for which you’re fighting. It will give you strength to organize an outstanding event and to see it through right until the end.

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