How to Make Money Out of Thin Air! 15 Obscure Fundraising Auction Item Ideas

Use Kathy’s Sock Money Factor
To Make Money Out Of Thin Air

When consulting with auction committees and boards, I am often asked how to procure new and profitable auction items. My favorite and yet one of the most overlooked categories of live auction items is “Make Money Out of Thin Air Items.”

Do you wonder how to infuse your fundraising auction with fresh auction items that fetch big dollars and excite your guests? Here’s how to make money out of thin air at your next benefit auction. Think “creative experience auction items” that are very meaningful to your benefit auction guests that are fun and pack a powerful punch for your charity auction profits.

Leverage my “Sock Monkey Factor”

Imagine wild bidding on a handmade “sock-monkey” lovingly crafted each year by the founder of the organization (sold for over $1,000 each year with euphoric bidding); a 10 lb. salami (a yearly delicious tradition that brings big bucks and big laughs), or even naming and visiting rights to a newborn dairy calf (believe it or not, two high bidders each paid $1,000 to name twin calves.)
In each case, these unique experience items have a big emotional connection to each particular organization and connects guests to your cause. Many times these fabulous items become legendary and take on a life of their own and it becomes an honor to be the winning bidder each year.

Get super creative with your auction committee to see what YOU can add to your auction to make it even more fun-and profitable. Send me an email (with subject line FUN to and tell me about your unusual items that went for sky-high prices!

Double Your Items
This is easy. First and foremost, be sure to ask your donors if you may double your auction item. That means you sell it twice and double your profit! (Don’t leave money in the room – just ask!)

Achieve Immortality – A lucrative and exciting item. The winning bidder’s name will be a character in a famous author’s next book. (I just sold this for $5,000 and $11,500 respectively in two auctions just this past week. Each lucky winning bidder will be immortalized in Ace Atkins Spencer novel and in best-selling Dennis Lehane’s next novel.)

Director’s Reserve – each board members contributes a bottle of their favorite wine. Be sure to check state and local liquor laws. (Sold it from $1,000 to $36,000)

Name a newborn baby calf at local dairy farm (sold it for $1,000 and then doubled it since Bessie had twins. True story!)

Make cupcakes with a favorite 6th grade teacher (Sold it for $6,000 twice – very nice!)

Grand Marshall at the Walk for Pets with your photo on the front cover of the humane society/animal rescue group’s annual calendar, plus pre-walk meal for you and your pet and tons of pet goodies. (Sold this $1,500 to $5,000)

Play the timpani drums for 1812 Overture (Boom boom boom – Sold it for $2,000)

Play the Cymbals
for Stars and Stripes Forever. (Sold it for $1,500 to a very exuberant and happy bidder.)

Guest Conductor!
Winning bidder conducts your local orchestra or chorus complete with a conducting lesson and signed baton, plus front row seats and gourmet dinner. (Sold this popular and exciting item for over $2,000 each time)

Walk on role at the Theatre, Opera or Show (Sold this many times over the years for $1,500 to $4,000.)

Head Table for 12 at next year’s auction with VIP treatment. Add fabulous wines, extra courses, different shaped table, extra goodies, limo pick up/drop off at each guest’s home, VIP reception etc…( I have sold this amazing VIP opportunity from $1,000 to $45,000! Truly!)

Name a… street, ice cream flavor, sandwich, martini – you name it, literally. The winning bidder gets to entitle your special item. Sold these for hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the exclusivity – very fun!)

Head of School for a Day, Class Projects, Parking Spot – School auction speciality items bring many thousands of dollars. Super lucrative and you get to focus on your school cause and impact on the students!)

Homemade desserts or flower arrangement for a year delivered to the winning bidder. (Sold this for $500 to $8,700 – seriously!)

First to Check Out at the auction (Priceless)

Get super creative with your auction committee to see what YOU can add to your auction to make it even more fun-and profitable.

Thanks and let’s all make more money out of thin air! Post your unusual items that went for sky-high prices!

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