Learn how to effectively plan your next silent auction.

Silent auctions are a great way to raise funds for your cause or organization because the items for the auction are donated and are intended to produce 100% profit.

In order to execute an effective silent auction, start by getting organized. Call a meeting with the committee that will be planning the event. Talk about the things you will need for your event and decide who will be responsible for what. (You don’t want to repeat something that someone else has done). Have contact information readily available for everyone volunteering so you can easily touch base to see how things are progressing. An email chain or a phone-tree are also good ideas to consider.

After you’ve picked a date, you need to find a location available and willing to hold your fundraiser. Having the fundraiser at your school is a great idea because everyone already knows how to get there and it’s obviously free. If your school isn’t available or isn’t large enough to accommodate your guests, you could check out your local rec center, churches, restaurants, or hotels. Depending on the number of guests you’re expecting and the weather, you may be able to host the event in someone’s backyard.

Clearly the goal is to make as much money as possible for your cause; securing as many donations as possible will allow you to achieve this goal. In actuality, a large number of people really want to help their local community, they just need to be asked… Begin by asking area businesses for donations. (It’s often helpful to bring a leave-behind flyer with all of the event information and your Fundraise.com address listed).

Be prepared to answer questions about your organization or the event. If people ask what you kind of item you had in mind, don’t be afraid to ask for something specific. (Keep in mind that big-ticket items will draw more crowds to your event, so refer back to the wish list you initially drafted). Often times if a business can’t donate anything, they may be willing to hang a sign or poster advertising your event. Either way it’s important to thank them for their time and consideration.

Once you have your date and location set, as well as some auction items it’s time to start advertising. Ask area businesses if they would be willing to hang a poster. Also try the libraries, churches, schools etc. Sometimes local radio shows, TV stations, and newspapers will publicize your event free of charge; don’t be afraid to ask.

Try to have a large variety of things to bid on as well as variety of starting bid prices. You want everyone to feel like they can be involved and varying the prices will help to allow for this.

Each auction item should have a bidding sheet that includes a description of what is being bid on, the minimum bid, bidding increments and the name of the individual or business that donated the item (if they choose to be identified). Try to come up with a creative description for your item or basket.

Make sure you have the silent auction guidelines posted the day of your event. Include the time it to begins and ends, how the winner is determined, where to pick up their prize and when payment is expected.

Once the auction is over don’t forget to send a thank you to everyone who helped make your fundraiser a success.