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Organise a Charity Auction

By: Sharon Walls - Updated: 16 Sep 2012 | comments*Discuss
Fundraising Fundraise Charity Auction

Charity auctions are fantastic, community-oriented events that can raise significant funds for a charitable cause.

Types Of Charity Auctions

When you run an auction for charity, there are several ways to do it:

Silent auctions are the most popular type of fundraising auction because they are low key and easier to coordinate. In a silent auction, you publish a list of items ahead of time and accept bids in writing. At the end of a pre-determined time period, the highest bidder wins the item.

The alternative to a silent auction is a live auction. People gather at a venue to place bids and unlike a silent auction, a live auction is fast and loud; patrons either shout or hold up signs for their bids. Live auctions can sometimes become frenzied affairs, you may need an auctioneer to help proceedings run smoothly.

Fundraising Auction Venues

When you decide to fundraise by holding a charity auction, you should first decide the type of auction you wish to conduct. This decision will dictate the rest of your charity auction plans.

If you hold an in-person auction (either silent or live), you will need a large venue. Ideally you will have a larger crowd in attendance on the day of your auction, although you can also choose whether or not to accept sealed bids ahead of the auction, or phone bids from people who cannot attend the actual event. Spaces like bingo halls and school gymnasiums are large enough to accommodate most auctions.

If you are running a silent auction, you should also provide refreshments on the day of the event. Silent auctions are slower affairs than live auctions, so you will also need to keep people entertained while they examine items and place their bids.

Alternatively, you can conduct a silent auction at home by accepting email or phone bids from your friends and family. The latter may reach a smaller audience, but it is also much easier to run.

Obtaining Items For Your Charity Auction

After you pay for your auction venue, the biggest expense is in the items you sell. There are several ways you can obtain items for a charity auction:

  • Second-hand items - Ask friends and family to contribute products they do not want or need. Items should be in good, saleable condition.
  • Corporate donations - Contact businesses and ask them to contribute products to your charity auction. You can thank them by publishing their name in publicity materials or auction leaflets.
  • Purchase items - Buy items at a sale price and sell them on for a higher bid. This can be potentially problematic, as you will need to set reserve prices to ensure your items sell for more than you paid!
How you obtain your items will make a big difference in the amount of funds you raise for your charity. Don't be afraid to get creative with your item procurement; ask local businesses, sport teams and local celebrities to donate items or services to your auction.

Even having one big-ticket item or celebrity donation will greatly enhance the publicity you receive, which means more money for your charitable cause!

Running Your Charity Auction

Once you have organised the logistics of your auction, it's time to get people to attend. You can publicise your event in a variety of ways. At minimum, you should inform the local media and post fliers in community areas. If you received corporate donations, you can ask the businesses to help you with this.

On the day of your auction, it's important to stay organised at all times. Print and hand out auction leaflets with items and other important information, or inform people of the auction procedure as they enter. Also, make sure you take careful notes of the winning bids as they're placed. You may wish to have a friend or family member run the auction from the podium while you circulate and keep the event running smoothly.

Depending on the venue, you can decide to accept payments and allow item pick-up directly after the auction. Remember to thank patrons for their donations! Alternatively, you can arrange delivery or pick-up of items at a later date; this works especially well for larger items.

After The Charity Auction

A big part of holding a charity auction is organising the event itself, but your job doesn't end when the last gavel falls. You will need to pay all expenses, collect payment and deliver items to the bidders too.

With the right planning, a charity auction can be very profitable for your fundraising cause. The most important thing to do is stay organised; if you're able to keep up-to-date with all of your expenses, bidders and suppliers, people will soon be asking when your next charity auction is!

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