• AmFund

Presentation is everything at your Silent Auction

When it comes time to display your silent auction items, presentation goes a long way. You rely on trip packages and high end items to bring in the biggest bids — but don’t rely simply on the quality of the item to receive bids. How and where you display these items at your event makes a world of difference. Let’s take a look at a few tips AmFund shares with the nonprofits they support that are sure to bring in more money at your next fundraising event.


The location of your Silent Auction set-up is key

Easy access to view your silent auction items is vital to your event’s success. Set things up in the foyer or reception area for your guests to see when they first arrive but ensure that’s after they have moved past the registration area. While guests enjoy their cocktails before the main event, they can bid on your silent auction items.


Keep in mind: displays should not be moved once you decide on a location. Moving items takes a lot of time and effort, along with the added risk of breaking or damaging items. Not to mention, moving a display interferes with the flow of events that need to take place — such as dinner or speaker presentations.


Put your items in the spotlight

Presentation means everything. This idea cannot be stressed enough. You should think of this step in terms of “merchandising” your items. Make sure each item is well lit and beautifully displayed. Remember, you want each item displayed to their best advantage.

When someone walks by, their attention should immediately turn to the item on display. The types of “eye catching” displays with a focus on presentation are bound to get a high number of bids. If you wrap a “basket” in plastic, ensure it’s clear, not tinted. You don’t want to make potential bidders work hard to see what’s in the basket.



Keep timing in mind too

Many silent auctions are kept open way too long. A full hour is plenty of time for your guests to get their bids in. Don’t announce a silent auction “clock time” for closing. Use announcements that the silent auction will be closing in 30, 15, and 5 minutes. Those announcements create much more bidding excitement than a notice, sign or announcement that says,

“The silent auction will close at 7:45.” It’s rarely a good idea to delay dinner or other events planned for the evening. Staying on schedule is important to keep your guests happy. Keep in mind, the silent auction should always be closed before you move on to the live auction, and closing it early, while people are still excited, is always better than later in the evening.


The bottom line: don’t expect your items to sell themselves. The extra attention on presentation, setup location, and time control will improve the success of your fundraising event.


Contact the American Fundraising Foundation for more tips on how to get higher bids on your live and silent auction items.