6 Tips for an Insanely Successful Charity Auction


Auctions can be tricky.  There’s a fine line between many moving parts, that could potentially make or break your event. What makes the successful events different? Other than the obvious, there are a ton of things you can do to boost fundraising before, during, and after your event. To make it easy, let’s start from the beginning.


Preparation is key. Failing to prepare is preparing to fail, right? There are many tips we have for preparing yourself, your committees, and your organization as a whole for an event such as this. Let’s touch on two of those.

  • Choosing the Right Auction Type

    • One of the biggest mistakes organizations can make is to just do ALL of the auction types. Your audience will gravitate toward one of them, right? Well, maybe not. If you’ve done auction events before, look back at your reporting.
      • What produced the most NET fundraising?
        • If it’s a silent auction, take out the money you used for your mobile bidding provider.
        • If you chose to go with a live auction, factor in the cost of your auctioneer.
      • What worked best for your audience?
        • Did you get more engagement with your live auction?
        • Does your audience like to mingle with each other and socialize during the event?
    • Now, if you host a silent and a live auction during your event and both are extremely successful, by all means, continue on! Maybe you can give us some insight as to what you do that makes the difference from past years! What aided your growth? Share it with the class!
    • If this is your first event, it’s a little trickier.  Here are some things to consider:
      • You know your audience and donors better than anyone else.
      • You know your prospects for sponsorships better than anyone else.
      • It may be beneficial to try a combination of auction types for your first event to ensure you have one appeal that will engage your audience.
      • Narrowing it down to one may hinder your growth for next year, IF the auction type you choose doesn’t engage your donors and make for an entertaining event.

So, as you can see, just choosing the right auction type is a task in itself. Now let’s move on to our second tip under the preparing stages.

  • Pick Your Auction Setting Wisely

    • Remember when we said, “You know your audience and donors better than anyone else,”?  Well, we’re back again, reminding you that you know them better than anyone else.  Picking an auction setting is very similar to picking an auction type. Consider your donors.
    • What do we mean by auction setting? The venue is important, yes, but that’s a different topic. We are talking about Galas versus Golf Tournaments.  Yes, we know, there are a lot of options when it comes to auction settings, so it’s important to look at the pros and cons of both and pick what fits best for your donors.


While all pieces of the event are crucial, planning is often considered the most important. No plan, no event. Let’s just get right into our tips.

  • Use Software

    • This is often overlooked because it “can be done,” with pen and paper. Yes, it can be done, but is it the most effective?
    • So let’s go over why this is so important – bear with us, there are a lot of reasons.
      • Ticket purchasing prior to the event can all be done online. There’s no bill collecting involved. They purchase their ticket for their event online and it gets added to their account. That’s it. You’re done. Like magic, right?
      • Pre-registration means pre-event bidding.  The beauty of software is that it allows your donors to register prior to the auction. That means you can open your auction a little early and start getting bids on items before the event even starts. It also means when guests come to your event, they’re already registered and the check-in process takes half as long which leads to fewer wait times to get into the event.
      • Streamlined processes. Ticketing, registration, bidding, donations, live auction, and reporting all done on one platform. An event planner’s dream.
    • We could go on and on, but we think you get the point. Use software.
  • Make a checklist

    • This can be instrumental in making sure that you have EVERYTHING you need for a smooth event. Make a checklist of everything you need, and check it off as you go. As a guideline:
      • Auction Software
      • Recruit Volunteers
      • Build Committees
      • Get auction items (we can help with that).
      • Decide on an auction type and setting
      • Compile Programs
      • Get an auctioneer
      • Get entertainment

Moving right along…the last step, using best practices.

Using Best Practices

  • Emphasize your cause. Talk about your cause, talk about what your fundraising is going towards, and give the donors a story they’ll remember.
  • Use software. Do we even need to talk about this again?
  • Pre-Register bidders and their credit cards. This comes with software, so if you use software, you don’t have to worry about this!
  • Keep your auction organized. There’s a lot of moving parts, so keeping things organized will allow for a more fluid event. Here are a few tips to get you started:
    • Assign seats
    • Assign bid numbers
    • Organize your volunteers
    • Designate a check out area
    • Designate a pickup area


There are a lot of pieces to put together for an auction to run smoothly.  We hope this helps get you started. Our last tip – delegate. Do not take all this on yourself. As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. Don’t be afraid to utilize help!

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