Whether a Gift or an Experience, Offer Items That are Memorable
Look at these fun auction item ideas! Celebrity autographs, a portrait of your granny, or tickets to a Broadway show are auction item ideas that are bidders’ favorites! Since it’s for charity, people have an easier time rationalizing the spend. “But it was for charity!” What a great way for some people to bid on things they’ve wanted but couldn’t justify the expense.
Make Life Easier
Or when you can offer items that make bidders’ lives easier, like a house cleaner or a personal chef, you’re headed toward a great fundraising event that could exceed your goals!!
Having a portrait of your grandmother painted is a terrific auction item! Boom—a family heirloom is created! Who wouldn’t want a portrait of a cherished loved one? Perhaps a favorite chef making dinner for you and your true love one evening? How about being a reporter with the local TV station for a day—a bucket list adventure for some! There are so many eclectic auction item ideas for you to pursue.
Pricing Auction Items
If you have data on your audience, specifically income information, it is helpful when estimating what donors might be willing to spend.
When pricing items, a good rule of thumb is to use the fair market value (FMV) approach. Fair market value is a selling price that buyers and sellers can agree upon or what bidders are willing to pay. With things like celebrity autographs and memorabilia, you’ll need to do research on the items to learn what the market will bear.
Start your bidding at 30-40% of FMV on most items and at 40-50% on higher-end items like cruises.
When seeking new and different items, you’re probably reaching out to new sponsors who can offer fun experiences for your bidders. Definitely a win-win. More donors mean more money for your organization.
But it’s for Charity!
Or offer an exciting cruise or destination that they wouldn’t have otherwise considered on their own! “But it was for a good cause!’
Offer High-Dollar Experiences
Your bidders want to support your cause and are more likely to bid on higher dollar experiences, such as a cruise, at your auction than ever buying it on their own. Yep, that’s how important your auction item ideas are for your organization’s success.
Get More Bidders
The key to getting more people to bid is to have the best auction items available. Carefully consider what items you add and how many to your auction. Having too many auction items can be overwhelming for your bidders.
It’s okay if you don’t accept an item or two that were submitted to your auction. Be selective with auction item ideas, and you’ll be rewarded with more bidding happening on the best auction items.
Everyone Loves Fun
Items that wow the bidder, or ones that speak to their sense of adventure, like kayaks or paddle boards, are unbelievably well received.
Consider Trendy Items
Auction item ideas that are fresh and timely are a big hit with bidders. But there is a caveat—successful auction item ideas can fall out of style as fast as yesterday’s hottest fashion trends often do. Consider an item’s attraction before you accept it for your auction.
Pick the Hits
There are many auction item ideas that are always a hit with bidders, such as tickets to popular events and shows, dining out, backstage passes to meet your favorite musician or actor, or a loge box at a game with your favorite local pro team in town or VIP seating to your favorite team that’s playing in another state!
Bidding Wars are a Good Sign!
By offering a wide array of auction items, you have a better chance of reaching potential donors online. These auction item ideas are so popular that you’ll find people in bidding wars to win!
High-End Items are Winners
Give your donors what they want and benefit your cause. High-end or exotic travel packages always seem to be a winner. They offer a unique vacation experience that most people wouldn’t think of planning on their own. Though risky, purchasing big ticket items such as a motorcycle or a TV also works when well publicized.
An Entertaining Theme
When preparing your next event, focus on an entertaining theme for the auction. Having an auction completely around Hollywood memorabilia, sports items, or even “Kentucky Derby Days” is a fantastic way to put people in a giving mood. Couple this theme with a lively party and more people are likely to attend and bid! The more memorable the event, the more people will attend next year’s event, especially when your event starts trending on social media!
Know Your Audience
We’ve certainly given you many auction item ideas. We’d be remiss if we didn’t give you more direction than this because, before you start piling up auction items, you really need to understand your audience. Do you know who they are? What are their ages, interests, and income levels? Hobbies. interests, sports? That’s important. The more you understand your audience, the better job you’ll do matching items to them that they’d buy.
If this IS NOT your first auction, then you’ve got a little edge. That edge is, if you’re targeting the same demographic as last year’s, use the data from last year to get a handle on what was popular and what wasn’t. Did you have items that didn’t sell or had zero bids? What items had the most bids? Did any of the items warrant a bid that exceeded the item’s actual cost? What else can you recall from last year’s auction that will help you create new auction item ideas?
Use the Right Auction Platform
There’s a lot of data in last’s year auction, for certain. If you used the auction platform CharityAuctionsToday for last year’s auction, then you know that all of this data is at your fingertips, and your online auction is ready and waiting for you to add new items for your next auction.
Consider CharityAuctionsToday’s online charity auction platform for your next auction. You can get a demo of the platform here or take a test drive on your own here (it’s easy, no technical skills or credit card needed).
35 Popular Online Fundraising Ideas
Dinner for Two at a Unique Restaurant
Think of a nice private dining room with fondue, a mystery dinner and play, or even a “ye old joust” dinner and medieval times event. A nice dinner in a unique or elegant setting is always a winner.
Tickets for Two
This always popular auction item provides tickets for a couple to visit the theatre, a sporting event, opera, ballet, movie, concert, museum, or symphony. Pair it with a dinner date, and you’ve got a fundraising idea that rocks!
Exotic Vacation Packages
Whether it is a Fighter Pilot For A Day, a Royal Caribbean Cruise, or even an All Inclusive Tropical Destination, these packages can generate big donations. You’ll want to get this one donated because these are pricey items. Check with the company offering the service to see if they will donate. If not, find a local business owner who is willing to sponsor your package.
Local Service Card
A free oil change or tune-up makes a great gift. Pair it with other automotive items like free car washes or car cleaning products.
This is a very easy but fun auction item. Set up a deal with a florist to send the winner a different seasonal bouquet every month.
This can be any local water, ski, or ride amusement park. Typically these parks will give you (or sell you at a deep discount) a group pass for your auction.
Pampered for a Day
Another classic is treating the ladies and men to a day of relaxation. These packages usually include a spa, massage, hair, makeup, or other beauty treatments. They are always a big hit with donors.
The Toy Wagon
Simply fill two wagons with toys, one focused on girls and one for boys. These can be auctioned off for the winner to take home or can be auctioned off and then donated to a local hospital, charity, or underprivileged group.
The Latest Electronic Gadget
A big hit with younger and older crowds alike is the auctioning of Tablets, Cell Phones, and the latest Computers. Or an iPad?
Work with a local landscaper to provide a complete lawn makeover – mowing, tree trimming, and the planting of flowers are very popular. If you really want to get fancy, you could even add in a sprinkler installation.
In this package, you combine the most popular (and least desired chores) to tidy up a house. Add in carpet cleaning, window washing, vacuuming, and complete maid service for a day.
Help the Children
This package is an assortment of popular children’s books and movies that can be kept by the winner or given to another local charity.
Pump You Up
The always popular exclusive health club or gym membership for a family is a sure seller at an auction.
What’s popular in your neighborhood? Is a new fashion or jewelry statement gaining ground? Offer a package that includes the latest fashion and trends.
One-of-a-Kind Auction Items
Anything signed by a celebrity can be used. However, the more well-known the celebrity, the higher the auction value. A baseball card, baseball, or bat from your sports hero, or the famous Terminator jacket signed by Arnold Schwarzenegger, would be perfect one-of-a-kind items for a celebrity signature piece.
Leader of the Group
Set up an event where the winner gets to throw out the first pitch at a baseball game, lead the opening number for the local symphony or orchestra, or maybe even get to say, “Gentlemen, start your engines” at a local race. These are once-in-a-lifetime events. Be creative and think of your donors and their interests.
Flags Flying High
If you want your patriotic colors to fly high, offer a flag that has been flown over our nation’s capital. Write your local congressman, describe the fundraising event and cause, and simply make a request. It may take a little time, so start well in advance. Don’t publicize it until you have the flag in hand.
Going to a concert is fun. Going backstage and meeting the performers is amazing. You can obtain backstage passes by working with either the group, local radio stations, or the venue for the concert.
Front and Center
Set up an event like a concert, sporting event, or other prestigious outing where the winner has front-row seats in the very center of the action. If you can score a meet and greet with the celeb, even better!
President’s Parking Spot
Setting up a Corporate Fundraiser? Auction off the President’s private parking spot for a month.
You are a Star
With a little planning, a few letters, and calls, and it is possible to get a charity item that will dazzle your donors. You can secure a role as a walk-on actor or extra in a major motion film. While these roles are usually nonspeaking, the experience is one very few people will ever have.
Lunch with the Star
Write the star and the agents asking for a lunch date with your auction winner.
With this package, you can either have a local chef come to the winner’s house and cook a gourmet meal or have the winner work with the chef in their exclusive restaurant.
Saturday Night Live, anyone? Tickets to popular TV shows like the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert and other sitcom tapings are also unforgettable.
Your Own Show
Some musicians and performers will donate their time to a private concert or show. All you need to do is ask!
What a Date
Contact a male and female celebrity to donate their time for a “dinner date” for the winner of the auction. If you can throw in a harmless kiss with a photo opportunity, the auction price will go even higher.
A golf outing to a private and very exclusive course is sure to bring in some high donations. If you can add a golf celebrity to the event, the price will go even higher.
Name a Street
How much would someone pay to have a street named after them? This may take some planning, but talking with developers in your community can easily make this happen. It is a great way to honor someone in the local community who has “done good” for the city.
Film at 11
Work with your local newsgroup so that the winner of this auction can travel with the news crew for one day and see the exciting events that unfold behind the scenes.
Work with a prestigious local merchant like a high fashion clothing store or a jewelry store to host a private shopping spree for the winner.
If you want to stay away from shopping, offer a private tour of anything that will create excitement. The Zoo, the White House, a Museum, or anything else that is unique to your community.
The Caricature Portrait
Contact a famous cartoon character artist and see if they will donate one caricature image of your auction winner. This will definitely be a one-of-a-kind item.
Work with a popular radio show to have your auction winner come into the studio and join in the radio fun for a day.
Who is That
Contact a famous author to have them write the winner’s name into their next novel.
An hour of sports or gym training with a famous sports athlete.
Is your head spinning? That’s a lot of auction item ideas to consider. Which ones resonate with your organization? Did you share this list with your auction committee?
We’ve provided plenty of auction item ideas for you to consider. And you’ve probably got a handful of your best auction ideas. As mentioned, take advantage of knowing your audience, reviewing buying data from last year’s auction, and setting item prices at fair market value when possible.
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