Silent auctions are a popular way to raise money by moving merchandise quickly and adding fun to a special event. By starting a silent auction service, you’ll be able to earn a living while offering organizations, businesses and charities an engaging fundraising solution. You can also maximize revenues by “going digital” with your silent auction through the use of handheld bidding devices.
A silent auction is a fundraising technique frequently used at charity events. They are conducted without a live auctioneer who calls out the prices for items and accepts bids from people in the audience. A silent bid is often a preferred means for raising money at charitable events because it doesn’t detract from the entertainment provided at the event.
Can you earn a good living by running a silent auction service? You should be aware that in order to raise a lot of money, your silent auction will either need to have a large number of items to auction off, or plenty of well-heeled attendees bidding on a few high-end items.
In the DenverPost.com article, Silent Auction Hit And Misses, author Joanne Davidson provides a list of what items sell poorly and what items sell best at silent auctions. It also says that the return on silent auction items should be 65-75 percent. In other words, “If your silent auction has a total value of $40,000 you should make $25,000 to $30,000 to have it be considered a success.”
Usually, tables or displays of items or services are set up for people to bid on at silent auction events. Paper bidding sheets are located near each item to allow attendees to write down their names and bids. However, advances in silent auction technology are revolutionizing the bidding process with the use of handheld electronic bidding devices that eliminate the need for bidding sheets.
Today, companies like BidPal and iBid are wirelessly automating bidding by providing electronic devices with uninterrupted access to the silent auction—and instant outbid alerts. When guests register, they are handed mobile devices or iPods loaded with a bidding app. Attendees carry the device with them and when they want to bid, they enter the item number and press a button to record their bid.
According to BidPal, guests at their automated auctions, on average, bid three times as often as those at a traditional auction.
Regardless of whether you decide to take a hands on approach or automate the bidding process, holding a silent auction is a lot of work. Before planning your silent auction business, decide if the return is worth the investment of time, people, and resources.
Video of BidPal in action at an event in New York City holding a silent auction with mobile bidding.