Silent Auction Strategy #1: Naming your Silent Auction Sections

Posted by Amanda Foran on May 19, 2011

At almost every fundraiser event auction, you’ll find two components: a silent auction and a live auction. Many events also include raffles, dinner, dancing, games, and more.

In a series of blog entries over the next few months, I’ll be addressing various strategies for making the most money from your silent auction.

The Basics: What is a silent auction?

During a silent auction, guests can peruse and bid on items that are on display during a specific window of time at the event. This is different from a live auction, where an auctioneer auctions off one item at a time to an audience of bidders.

A silent auction section defines the location and time at which a certain set of silent auction items will be available for bidding.

Why divide your silent auction into sections? To maximize pacing, create a crescendo, and build momentum toward the most desirable silent auction items and the live auction.

What should I call my silent auction sections?

Clear section names make it easier for your guests to locate items. You should display these names both in your catalog and on your event signage.

For example, generic section names like “Section #1” and “Section #2” would work, but may not be descriptive or creative enough for your taste. Instead, you could use more descriptive section names like Dining, Art & Jewelry, Electronics, Home, etc. I prefer creating section names that mirror a strong event theme. For example, if your theme is “Reach for the Stars” you might call your silent sections “Red,” “White” and “Blue.”

In all cases, make signs that clearly mark the location of the display tables for each silent auction section. That way, people who like to flip through your printed catalog will easily be able to locate items of interest. If you’ve named your sections for colors, I find that using a bunch of color-coordinated helium balloons to mark each section’s tables works well.

In future blog entries, I will discuss the optimal number of silent sections, how many items to feature in each section, how to stagger the closing times of your silent auction sections, and more.

What naming strategies have you used for your silent auction sections? I’m sure other readers of this blog would love to hear your ideas, so please share them below in the comments.

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