The best silent auction items are those that are unique, creative, interesting, and often can’t be easily purchased. These types of items are sure to draw lots of attention and frequent bids, increasing the overall revenue from your event. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the theoretical auction box, your donors will be more intrigued to bid on an item they haven’t seen at an auction previously!
A great silent auction line-up should read like a bucket list: once in a lifetime experiences that everyone loves and can’t pass up. Most of the items below are packages; packages are a great way to increase the percentage of fair market value you receive, and therefore increase revenue!
Below are some popular bucket list items and how you can re-purpose these as items in your auction.
Bucket List Item: Skydiving
Auction Item: Dive and Dine Package
Blow your donors away with an amazing package to conquer a fear or experience something completely different. This package could include transportation to and from the skydiving site, custom “I WENT SKYDIVING!” shirts with your organization’s name and logo on the back, photos and video from the dive, and lunch or dinner at a local restaurant for after the big jump.
Bucket List Item: Eat at a Michelin Star Restaurant
Auction Item: Local Cooking Class
Spice up the auction with a cooking class! This will allow donors to learn how to make a new dish or explore a new cuisine. You could either purchase two entries to any class or talk to a local culinary school about hosting a private class and sell 10-20 tickets so that multiple event attendees can participate in the bidding and the class. A neat extra would be to include custom aprons to wear to the class and cooking at home!
Bucket List Item: Run a Marathon
Auction Item: Themed 5K
Many people have the aspiration to eventually conquer a full or half marathon, but everyone needs to start somewhere! Offer entry to a fun themed 5K and package the race entry with a training plan and a gift card to a local sports store so that the winner can purchase new gear. Donors will be running to the table to check out this great package that promotes both fun and healthy living!
Bucket List Item: Eat Pizza from Italy
Auction Item: Pizza Tour of your City
Your donors may not be able to travel to Italy to try authentic pizza, but you can offer them a taste of that trip with gift certificates to the top pizza restaurants in your city! Try to get donations from at least four restaurants so that your donors have the opportunity to sample different pizzas. You can even create two different packages: one with 4-6 restaurants and another with 6-10 restaurants to capture the attention of different levels of donors.
Bucket List Item: Ride in a Fire Truck
Auction Item: Firefighter for an Afternoon
While most adults don’t have this on their bucket list, you would be hard-pressed to find a kid that didn’t want to ride in a fire truck or police car. Speak with your local law-enforcement department about offering a ride in one of their vehicles and a tour of the station as a silent auction item. Have the fire truck pick up the kids from school and meet them at the station for a tour and meet and greet with the firefighters!
These are only a few ideas of some great silent or live auction items — there are many more out there! If you’re feeling stuck, here’s a tip: ask some of your friends and family about the best or most memorable auction item they’ve purchased in the past, or what they would love to see at an auction.
Don’t forget to be creative and think outside the box and you will be sure to increase auction revenue at your next event!