Support a Charity! Organize a Silent Auction

silent auction
Flickr photo by sling@Flickr
After hearing about the awful flooding in my hometown of Tennessee, it got me thinking a lot about what we can do to help.

Some of our favorite artists are holding a Nashville Flood Benefit Concert to help the city, but another option that people can do for any of their favorite charities is to hold a silent auction.


In a silent auction, bidding is done on a slip of paper and set beside the item that's being auctioned off, with the item going to the highest bidder.

If you feel like being Miss Philanthropist for one of your favorite charities, there are a few things to keep in mind when putting together a silent auction:

  1. Pick a venue that will hold a large number of people. Remember, you want a big crowd! Churches, community centers, and school gyms are often willing to give up their space for free for charity events.
  2. Everything for this type of event is donated, so you need to put together a good pitch for when you approach business owners. Be descriptive in exactly what the charity is for, your passion for it, and why this particular charity needs their help. Go into detail about how it will benefit the business by participating, such as a mention of the business in the charity newsletter, blogs, giving event-goers a 10 percent off coupon so that they try out the restaurant, etc. Everyone loves free press.
  3. Hit up local restaurants and caterers for food. Nothing too pricey, but be sure the food is good to encourage guests to check out the restaurant on their own time.
  4. Auction items. You'll want businesses to donate a wide range of items that appeals to the largest mass of people. Sure, a few fine jewelry pieces are great, but you want as many people to bid on these items as possible. Things such as gym memberships, weekend getaways, bottles of nice wine, dinners at fine dining establishments, and art usually do well at silent auctions. If you do have gender-specific items, be sure to have about the same amount for both sides.
  5. Tie in activities at the auction with your charity. If you're raising money for an animal charity, invite your guests to bring their dogs and have a dog-trainer volunteer to show up and teach them tricks. If it's a Haiti relief charity, have Haitian food, music, and colors. If it's for a museum, turn it into a fancy gala event, complete with formalwear.
  6. When writing the descriptions of the items up for auction, be descriptive. Sell it! Say what it is, what purpose it serves, what's included with it, what's unique about it, its retail value, any unique or limiting details (is it a collectors' item or an antique?), and who donated it.
  7. You'll be expected to say a speech, so be prepared.

Other than that, just have fun. You're doing this for a good cause, so no matter what, it's sure to be a positive experience!

Have you ever organized a charity event? If so, what kind of event was it and for what charity?


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