The ultimate guide
to silent auctions

Silent auctions are a terrific way to raise money for your organization. Here at CharityAuctionsToday, we have been helping people manage fun, successful auctions since 2007. During that time, we have gathered some useful tips to help with your next silent auction event!


What Is A Silent Auction?

Silent auctions, like traditional auctions, raise funds through attendees bidding on items donated by sponsors. The highest bid wins and the proceeds go to the organization or cause.

Unlike a traditional auction, however, a silent auction doesn’t have an auctioneer. Instead, attendees write their bids on bid sheets (thus, silent!) Throughout the duration of the event, bidders can return to the bid sheet to 1) see if they are still the highest bidder and/or 2) raise their bid in order to secure the item for themselves. Who doesn’t love some friendly competition?

Live vs. Virtual Silent Auctions

Auctions can be online (we’re big fans of this, by the way!), in-person/live (that works too!), or both. We’ll walk you through how to do either type of auctions, and point out the differences so you’re sure to not miss any details.

Over the past 15 years of successful fundraising, we’ve jotted down some basic steps to creating a fun, effective auction!

icon planning


Okay, so you have decided you want to host an auction – great! Now what? We can help you get started with a few quick and simple resources:


Step 1:

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Create an Auction Committee

Our online auctions are easy enough to be hosted by one person (seriously!) or a whole team of people. Live/in-person auctions might require some help, but don’t worry, we’ve already thought about this. When you are figuring out the finer points of your auction team, consider the following:

  • icon planningWho needs to be on your team?
  • icon planningWhat tasks and responsibilities fall under each role?
  • icon planningKeep the committee focused and having fun!

Step 2:

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Collect Donated Items

Asking for donations can seem daunting, but your community wants to help your worthy cause! In fact, we can help you streamline the collection and management of donated items. Here are some things to consider:

  • icon planningAsk the right people for the right things! Your community will be glad to donate items that are readily available to them.
  • icon planningMake the donation process simple!
  • icon planningConsider looking for a sponsor(s) for your auction, this will increase your bottom line! We have also researched a few companies that offer matching programs as part of their corporate giving initiatives.

Step 3:

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Planning the Event

We know that planning an event can be stressful, but try to have fun with it! CharityAuctionsToday takes the guesswork out of the process, and we love nothing more than a fun and successful auction – from beginning to end. To get the most out of your planning phase, consider:

  • icon planningPlanning the best time, location, and activity for your event. In other words, consider your guests. Where are they coming from? Are you throwing an auction on a Monday or a Saturday? Make it as simple as possible for your bidders to attend!
  • icon planningMoney saving tips – check out some low to no-cost ideas!
  • icon planningMake a checklist of everything you want to accomplish!

Step 4:

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Publicize the Auction

Trust us, you do not need to be social media savvy to get some eyes on your auction. Our team has collected some best practices to help you harness social media’s power to benefit your cause! Some things you will want to consider:

  • icon planningCreate a buzz that translates into dollars for your organization
  • icon planningSimple ways to spread the word that don’t cost a dime
  • icon planningLeveraging your social network without feeling pushy. This does not merely mean advertising to your Facebook and/or Instagram followers. Utilize email and member lists, too!

Step 5:

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Organize the Silent Auction

Online and live/in-person silent auctions are easy to run, but they do take some planning. Over the past 15 years, we have fine-tuned the planning process to make it easier for you. Here are a few ideas that might help along the way:

  • icon planningCreate checklists to get you through the planning, administration, and closing of each auction.
  • icon planningBe mindful about how you structure the auction for maximum bid potential. Do your items have clear and accurate descriptions? Is the auction beneficiary clearly listed and advertised?
  • icon planningDelegate responsibilities, whenever possible! If you have willing helpers, let them lighten the load of running this type of event.

Step 6:

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Close the Silent Auction

Between swiping credit cards and assigning winning bidders, closing out an auction can seem intimidating. Not to worry! With our team of Auction Success Managers, the end of each event will be flawless. We know what to expect, so that no one is caught off guard. In the meantime, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • icon planningClose out your auction so that it is memorable for all participants. After all, you want them to come back for your next event!
  • icon planningPlan out all payment options in order to minimize unexpected fees or snags along the way.
  • icon planningTouch base with all participants after the event (that includes your volunteers!). Let them know how valuable they are to your cause.