Skyrocket Your Silent Auction Success!

Mercury 7 Model Sends Bidding Into Orbit at McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center Auction

Is your Silent Auction a black hole* or do you blast fundraising into orbit?

Have you ever felt exhausted at silent auctions where items and tables were so jammed together and poorly illuminated that you felt you could never escape? There are easy solutions to catapult auction income!

As a shining example, I’d like to share a wonderful success story. Recently, I had the honor to conduct the first “Galaxy Gala” for the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center.

(This New Hampshire treasure honors its own space pioneers Christa McAuliffe and Alan Shepard with an amazing collection of innovative, interactive exhibits in astronomy, aviation, earth and space sciences.)

Held right in the Discovery Center, this stunning backdrop fully showcased their mission. In particular, their Silent Auction display actively engaged bidders at the full-size model of the Mercury capsule that took Alan Shepard to space.


And what about you? Watch your bidding soar with these Silent Auction Success Strategies:

Space out every silent auction item
Lay out your silent items so that two people can bid on each item with enough physical space. Design the aisle width for four people wide. Utilize my “Kathy Kingston 2 x 4 Silent Auction Rule.”

Layout your silent auction as THE centerpiece of the room
Place your silent auction tables throughout your room, not just around the edges of the room. Mix mission related displays with food and beverage tables right with your silent auction tables; this set up invites guests to mingle and bid throughout the venue.

Expand profitability with staggered silent auction area closings
Create several separate sections. Divide the number of silent auction items by two or three. Identify each section with a separate color of balloons or signage. Announce closings 10 minutes apart. Create several opportunities to motivate spirited bidding and movement of crowd. Announcement silent items, closing times, and thank donors.

Make it easy to bid at the silent auction
Elevate items so guests can easily see. Employ vertical design techniques. Use a table easel, boxes draped with velvet or beautiful fabric. Don’t rely on the bid sheet as your display. Begin with a starting bid on every bid sheet, anywhere from 30-50% of value. Place pre-calculated bid increments on your silent auction form. Add a stand up vertical sign for display.

Place silent auction bid forms in front, close to edge of table
Provide a flat surface for each item. Don’t require your bidders to reach over other items to write their bids. Wall-hanging clipboards are WAY too difficult for your guests to write on and will simply lose you money.

Brightly Illuminate your Silent and Live Auction Displays
Good lighting is critical to auction success. Make sure your guests can read the silent auction forms and auction catalog. Dim dinner-style lighting can lose thousands of dollars and put supporters to sleep.

Remember if your guests can’t see, they will not bid. Many guests need reading glasses too, so why not have a few spare pairs that volunteers can provide if needed too.

Note: *A black hole is a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape. (Wikipedia, 2010)

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