A Booster club silent auction is an auction that do not have an auctioneer. People place their bids by paper ballots or via an app instead. Auctioneering is a hard job and add to overall costs, so silent auctions offer a way to run an affordable auction that anyone can organize.
Silent auctions are popular with booster clubs because they build community spirit while potentially bringing in a lot of money for the club. But organizing a silent auction is no small undertaking. In this article, we will explain how to hold a silent auction and get the most out of the items you have to auction.
How to Run A Silent Auction
The key to running a successful silent auction for your booster club is to prepare well in advance. Basically, the more you prepare, the more people will attend the event, and the more money you will raise.
Find Volunteers For Your Booster Club Silent Auction
The very first thing you will need to do is recruit volunteers. If you have a contact list or an email list, you can use that to find people to help out. You are going to need volunteers to help with the following tasks:
- Help set up the venue with tables, chairs, displays, voting cards, and information sheets
- Help close tables at the assigned time and ensure that the minimum bid requirements were met beforehand
- A “bank” crew to organize bid sheets (especially of multiple winners) and collect money from winners
- A cleanup crew to help pack up equipment and close down the event when it is over
It is important to find volunteers early and make sure that they all understand how a silent auction works. You can have them wear vests or special t-shirts at the event, so make sure to record their sizes and place orders ahead of time.
Running the Booster Club Silent Auction
Make sure that you have all of the donated items out for display along with the business or person that donated the item. In some cases the retail value of each items is shown as well, but it is not necessary. What is important is that you have a system for people to bid on each item and you specify the bid increase increments. All that this means is that you have a sheet of paper that allows 20 or so people to write their name, phone number and bid amount down. The sheets will specify the minimum you can increase your bid by, for example increments of $5 would mean if I bid $5 and someone wants to outbid me they would have to bid $10, and then $15 would outbid that person and so on. You want to make sure to include a few bid sheets per item in the event it gets to be a hotly contested item.
Throughout the auction you want to remind people how much time there is to put their bids in. As the auction time winds down you want to make these announcements more frequently until the bell dings! Once the auction is over, your volunteers will need to gather all of the bid sheets and then tally up the winners. Depending on how you structure your booster club silent auction, you can either announce the winner that evening, or reach out to the winners after the event via their contact information.
Get Items Donated to a Booster Club Silent Auction
Once you have volunteers, you can begin asking for donations. Put the word out to community members that you are raising money for your booster club and that you are looking for items to auction. Many people will be happy to donate items when they know that the funds will be going to a good cause.
What Types Of Silent Auction Items Attract Attendees
Often the items that do the best at silent auctions are rare items that cannot be found at normal retailers. These include (but are not limited to):
- Instruments signed by musicians
- Signed Sports Memorabilia
- Items owned by celebrities
- Rare artwork
- Food gift baskets
- Rare wines, beers, or liquors
- Donated cars
- Trips / getaways
Don’t forget to ask for services as well as items. Local businesses like hair salons or golf courses will often be more than happy to participate. After all, they will benefit from the exposure as well as by being seen as giving to a good cause to support the community.
Of course, you never want to leave out participation in your booster club silent auction by local retailers. Not only will they donate to the auction, they most likely will help promote it! The following is a list of types of local retailers to contact. You will be surprised by how generous they can be:
- Restaurants and Pubs
- Golf Courses
- Museums and Amusement Parks
- Sports Teams
- Salons and Spas
- Movie theaters
Where To Hold A Booster Club Silent Auction
With items and services donated and volunteers signed up, you can begin structuring the booster club fundraising actual event. Find a venue that will be able to hold all of the people you expect to attend your silent auction. Typical venues can be the school gymnasium, local community center or cultural center.
Hold Your Silent Auction With A Dinner Or A Show
A perfect way to maximize attendance and create a fun atmosphere is to offer a meal and some music to guests. People tend to be way more willing to buy things when they are well fed and having fun. Of course, if you do offer music and food, make sure that you find volunteers who can help you set up the show and the serve the food. Better yet, reach out to a few catering services and local bands to see if they would like to get involved. Who knows they might be willing to donate their services for the cause!
Another way to look at your booster club silent auction is to create a unique event for the community to attend with the auction as an add on. Think about some sort of performance – it could be theatre, comedy or an outdoor activity – even a sporting event! Combining the ticket sales to the event with a silent auction will allow your booster club to maximize its fundraising effort!
Marketing a Booster Club Silent Auction
With the structure of the auction in place and the items or services that will be on offer, you can start promoting the event. It is important to promote the event well in advance so that people have enough time to find out about it and make plans to attend it. If possible, start advertising the event several months in advance, and build anticipation by releasing information about your top items one at a time over time.
Channels For Promoting A Booster Club Silent Auction
The best place to begin marketing your silent auction is around your community. You can put ads in parent newsletters and on the school website and in local participating businesses. Next, put ads in local newspapers and hang flyers up around town. Finally, consider reaching out to local media reporters to run a story about your auction to help you raise even more awareness.
These days, another easy way to raise awareness is by promoting / posting on social media and/or running simple ad campaigns. The best place to fun a simple ad campaign is on Facebook. You can reach hundreds and even thousands of people in the months leading up to the event by spending just a few dollars per day on ads. Other than Facebook, Instagram and Nextdoor Neighbor are good social media networks to advertise on as well.
Increase Donations During Your Booster Club Silent Auction
With the event underway, there are several things you can do to boost donations and help encourage people to show up. These are extra tips that can end up making all the difference to the success of the event for your booster club.
- First, you can offer free rides via a shuttle service to the event. Simply have one of your volunteers drive around the community and pick people up who would otherwise not be able to attend.
- Second, set aside a play area for kids and a designated adult to watch over them. Parents can leave their kids in the play area while they browse the tables and enjoy the event. Meanwhile, the kids can play with each other and play games while the parents do grown-up things.
- Third, during the event, you can offer surprise special giveaways to bring in cash donations. The surprise giveaways can add an air of excitement to the event and built the excitement for people.
- Fourth, if you have wealthy donors, consider asking them to make a matching gift for cash / check donations given in a certain period or up to a certain amount.
- Fifth, Include donation cards on the table. Sometimes people are more interested in supporting and socializing rather than the auction. This gives an opportunity for them to support through a donation rather than the auction.
Congrats On Your Successful Booster Club Silent Auction!
There are many ways to hold a booster club fundraiser, but one of the most popular ways is through a booster club silent auction. People love to come out to and event and support a good cause. With this article to get your started, you are sure to make your booster club silent auction a success! Check out our multitude of additional blog articles that cover booster club management, marketing and other fundraising ideas!