Silent auctions are precisely what the name suggests – a fundraiser where there is no hectic bidding, the tension of keeping up with the auctioneer before the hammer falls, and the resultant fun and excitement. Silent auctions on the other hand are more laid-back affairs where the bidding is done conveniently and silently without calling out the prices.
The Functioning of Silent Auctions
The functioning of silent auctions is not greatly different from the traditional ones. Here too, all items are displayed on tables and the participants get to inspect them before deciding on the bids. But here any similarity between the auctions as generally known and silent auctions end. There is no auctioneer guiding the bidding, instead, a sheet having 10 to 15 rows is placed on the tables before each item. Participants write the bids amounts on the rows and at the end of the auction, the winner is decided.
The amounts put on the bidding sheet are in increments as decided by the rules of the auction. At the start of the auction, a bidder puts the first amount on the sheet followed by the next bidder. Usually, silent auctions are carried on for several hours in a day and at the end, the winners make the payments and take the items away. The organizer does not have the responsibility of shipping and delivery unless of course, the size of the winning item is too big to be carried away.
There is a difference between on-premises silent auctions and the ones conducted online through specialized sites via auction software. These too are known as silent auctions but the bids are placed through any Internet-enabled device like smartphones or tablets. Here, the auctions often stretch for 7-10 days at the discretion of the fundraisers. However, the common perception of silent auctions is those held on-premises where bidding is through written sheets only.
Which Items Sell Most at Silent Auctions
On the whole, bid amounts at silent auctions are on average lower than those at physical auctions. This is mainly because these types of auctions do not have the urgency of the traditional auctions and no auctioneer is trying to raise the bid amounts and prolong the process through various means. It is completely up to the participants what they want to bid in pre-decided increments without the pressure to raise the bids higher and higher.
However, studies have proved that there are certain groups of items that sell more at silent auctions. Hence, the auction will be very successful if the organizers can get their items list right.
Here are some of the items that go for a high at silent auctions.
Entry tickets: Admission tickets to in-demand events are the hot favorites of bidders. These include sports events, movies, ballets, concerts, theatre, and more. People generally look for bargain prices and lap up the tickets quickly as they can get them at less than their face value. Organizers do not have anything to lose as these are sponsored and donated by the event holders.
Compatible items: Club items that complement each other and put them together in one lot for bidding. This will lead to higher bidding and prices than what would have been received for them as individual items. Bidders get more of what they want and the auction organizers can sell more items of the same category faster. This is why the bids are higher for a bunch of goodies of the same type put up together in one lot.
Discounts available locally: This is another category where the demand is high, almost at par with event tickets. Include gift cards and discount coupons of local restaurants and for availing specific services at salons, getting Internet connectivity at lower rates for higher plans, and other services. Tap the local merchants for sponsorships – the possibilities are endless here.
Food and beverages: This category is a great attraction for bidders as the items appeal to the whole family. Chocolate hampers, craft beer packages, wine racks, and other similar items that are quite expensive at retail stores are available at silent auctions at rock bottom prices. Organizers of silent auctions give great weightage to food and beverages for successful fundraising efforts.
Sports equipment: Sports gear and equipment are a great draw at silent auctions. Items like camping gear, golf clubs, fishing tackle sets, bicycles, and similar stuff are usually a great draw for silent auctions held in summer. Decide the type of sports gear by season to get maximum returns from your silent auctions. For example, skiing equipment is on the most-wanted list in the winter.
Gift items: Have exclusive silent auctions during the festive season for gift items only and you can be assured of substantial funds rolling in. Contact merchants and sponsors well in time so that all varieties of items can be included in the auction. Apart from glittering items for Christmas or Thanksgiving, throw in holiday packages too at heavily discounted rates in summer.
The more variety that you can add to the items being put up at silent auctions, the more will be the funds raised.
Setting prices on items at silent auctions
The final stage of successfully conducting silent auctions is to price the items right. Remember, people look at auctions to get a bargain and you will discourage bidding if the base prices are set high. On the other hand, too low prices will not give you good returns for your efforts. The trick is to strike the right balance between the two at silent auctions.