Considering dropping your Silent Auction? Read here first!

“We want to eliminate our silent auction. What do you think?” This question is presented to me on occasion. As I question why a client wants to eliminate the silent auction I get similar answers each time about the amount of effort expended in comparison to what is earned. Another issue is the difficulty of getting quality items donated. And sometimes I am simply told that the committee is “Silent Auctioned out!”

After listening to all of my client’s concerns I ask how she is going to replace the money lost if the Silent Auction is eliminated. Typically the answer is that the money that people would have spent on the Silent Auction will be spent in the Live Auction or Fund-a-Need instead. In some cases this may be true, but after 26 years in this business I can share that it is definitely not the norm in my market. I have not yet seen that Live Auction and Fund-a-Need revenues have been sufficient enough to warrant eliminating the Silent Auction outright.

Remember that there is a benefit to tapping a variety of revenue streams at your event because people give for a variety of reasons. Speaking to the Silent Auction, many attendees enjoy competitive shopping.  Silent Auctions also offer attendees something to do while they sip a beverage and nosh on appetizers. Plus, Silent Auctions are great way to form corporate partners from in-kind and cash donations from local businesses.

A good solution to avoiding a 150 or 200 lot silent auction is to have a small, high quality, high value silent auction. For clients that want to eliminate their silent auction I encourage them to have a 5-15 lot silent auction. Focus on quality items with minimum values of $150-$250 (no gift cards for oil changes or haircuts here!) and start opening bids at $50 or more with sizeable increments.

This reduces the amount of work the committee has to do in soliciting items for the silent auction; it reduces set up time; it allows room for good silent auction display; and it taps into a revenue stream of individuals who like to bid in silent auctions. And this all adds up to more revenue for the event’s bottom line!