Great Ideas for Your Next Silent Auction
Silent auctions are a great way to promote your school, team, club, or foundation. You can share your story and offer items that tie into your organizational mission. Give your donors the opportunity to support a cause they care about while treating themselves. The bidding experience can be fun, exciting, and can add a little mystery to the event while reinforcing an emotional connection between your program and the community that can help your organization grow and stay strong.
The best silent auction offerings are things people want that are unique and hard to come by. In-demand items that attract a lot of bids and command high prices are luxurious, fun, exciting, one-of-a-kind, and put together with zest and creativity. To raise as much money as possible, focus on promoting high-quality items and experiences that will retain their value long after the auction ends. People remember a special experience or a prized treasure that can’t be replicated. With less to consider, they focus their attention and resources on the items they really want. It can also increase healthy competition; more bids per item can drive up the price beyond item value. A person pays for the privilege of winning. You can also maximize your returns by bundling complementary items into a luxury basket. In the end, you’ll generate more money with less effort because you won’t have to deal with the time overhead of packaging, promoting, and delivering a large volume of lower-priced, more ordinary items. When you dazzle people with great items, you will impress your fans, and they will want to be a part of your event, show off their winnings, and tell their friends about the great time they had. Your organization can spend the proceeds to improve offerings and bring people events and experiences they love. The good vibes and memories will create positive associations that make people want to repeat the experience the following year. If you need inspiration, read on for some ideas on what to offer in your next silent auction.
Mission-themed Items and Activities
Are you a school or a local league who wants to raise funds for a new scoreboard or an assistant coach? Maybe you want to make your club more inclusive or provide scholarships for deserving or underprivileged students. Or maybe you want to hire a local artist to paint a mural that celebrates your organization’s contribution to the community. Whatever the cause, if people already love your organization, they’re more likely to get excited about special items that are a natural fit for your mission. Here are some ideas to get you started.
1. Dinner with a Sports Legend
How would you like to have dinner with your favorite coach or athlete? From local stars to superstars, a lot of folks would love the chance to share great food and conversation with one of their idols. Your team’s own quarterback, pitcher, or goalie could make the perfect date. Maybe you could auction off a picnic or barbecue with the entire team for a group of friends. Do you have a well-connected friend who could score a superstar from a pro team who loves to give back? Fans get to have a one-in-a-lifetime experience to talk about the game and ask questions. Pick an amazing restaurant that both people will love (could even be hot dogs) so the experience is unforgettable.
2. A Sports Destination Vacation
Would you love to take a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown or the Olympic Canter in Lake Placid, New York? Getaways to charming towns and major cities with famous sports museums or playing fields can be a delightful way to spend a weekend and provide a great opportunity for family bonding. Some auction consignment companies offer pre-packaged trips you can (sell/offer) with no up-front cost and make thousands of dollars over the package price. Work with a travel agency or put together your own bundle. Offer a complete, all-inclusive package with passes to the main attraction, accommodations, transportation, and a meal, plus guides for things to see and do while you’re there. Get everyone excited by promoting the event on social media, your website, mailers, and flyers. Include a swag bag with hats, t-shirts, sweats, or tote bags, a coffee mug or water bottle, a commemorative enamel pin, etc. People will actually enjoy nice, high-quality items that will remind them of a good time every time they use them.
3. Original Artwork with a Team Theme
A colorful, refined, and unique painting, sculpture, or photograph can be extremely desirable, especially if it’s created by a well-known or exceptionally talented local artist. Portraits or portrayals of winning moments can make great conversation pieces and inspire a host of hopes, dreams, and good feelings.
4. Canvas Prints or Framed Posters.
A big poster or oversized canvas print that commemorates a championship game could be just the thing to complete your game room. Maybe you know some kids who would love to hang a poster of their favorite superstar in their bedroom. If you can find a distinctive, rare, or signed piece, so much the better. Make sure the item is pre-framed or includes framing services so the winner can hang it with no hassle or expense.
5. Limited Edition Clothing Collaborations
Sportswear companies, old and new, have had huge success collaborating with athletes and designers to produce limited runs of bright, stylish clothing and accessories. If your audience likes to look good and keep up with trends, you might have great luck selling a coveted jacket or tracksuit. Choose brands that have a positive association with your organization or mission. Consider connecting with the most fashion-conscious members of your organization (or their kids) to learn about the season’s most desirable brands and collections from Nike, Champion, Adidas, Puma, and other smaller brands with lots of hype. As you source your items, think about how to offer sizing and customization items for the winner if they plan to wear the prize.
Sneakers, especially customized, designer, signed, and limited edition footwear, are a super-hot auction item that is sure to generate a lot of attention with the right crowd. Luxury sneakers have become hugely collectible in recent years, with high-end designers like Louis Vuitton getting in on the action. See what you can do to source the year’s most desirable kicks in the most commonly worn sizes.
7. Sports Memorabilia
Sports memorabilia gives fans a personal connection to their favorite sport, team, and players. Signed photos, shirts, jerseys, balls, shoes, and trading cards are perennial favorites. Sentimental value is strongly associated with nostalgia, wonderful memories, exciting good times, amazing wins, and team spirit. Sports collectibles often appreciate in monetary value, and the current market is strong. Ask a team or local collector to donate an item, or consider using an auction consignment company as your source if you think you can command high bids for memorabilia. Make sure your items are authentic and come from a reputable source. Include a certificate of authenticity, if available.
8. Digital collectibles and NFTs
Popular sports stars and organizations like Major League Baseball, Trey Mancini, Topps, the National Basketball Association, and Real Madrid CF are just a few of the organizations that are producing NFTs tied to digital collectibles. It’s even possible for your own organization to create and sell its own exclusive NFT. Tie your NFT to a physical collectible like a signed jersey, season tickets, or an experience like a meet-and-greet, then sell it on a platform that caters to sports fans. This is a great way to take advantage of the excitement surrounding the crypto space.
9. Sports VR Experience
With the advent of the Metaverse, Virtual Reality is gaining mainstream popularity. Your organization can get in on the action by offering a VR sports package. Include a headset or two from a popular brand like Oculus and a collection of games like VR Sports Challenge, Eleven Table Tennis, and Totally Baseball, 2MD: VR Football Unleashed.
10. Game Tickets
What basketball fan wouldn’t love courtside seats to a championship game? If you can source sold-out tickets to a must-see event and throw in parking, transportation, food, and drinks, you’re sure to get high bids. Box seats for bowl or playoff games, or post-season special events, are sure to be desirable. Use your connections and ask them to donate great seats or season tickets in return for a mention in your auction catalogue.
11. Tailgating or a House Party
Who doesn’t love to throw a party for friends and family? Put together a party bundle or catered service that includes food, drinks, and party favors for the playoffs, Super Bowl Sunday, the World Series, or your own organization’s championship game.
12. Everyone Adores High-End Items
At the end of the day, you may want to offer a few items that have broad appeal. A year of gourmet coffee, monthly spa visits or a weekend spa retreat, dinner for two or four at a high-end restaurant, landscaping, monthly flowers, a wine tasting or mocktail package are just a few indulgences that make life better.
Make Your Silent Auction A Success!
Silent auctions are a wonderful opportunity to bring attention to your organization and fun to your community. Look for opportunities to collaborate with companies and local businesses, and don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for matching donations. With careful curation, planning, promotion, and effort, you’re sure to source items that will make your organization a success and generate funding and good feelings for years to come.
Be sure to also check out our great article on the 70 Best Fundraising Ideas For Schools & Students.