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Charity Auctions: Are Silent Auctions or Live Auctions Better?

Charity Auctions: Are Silent Auctions or Live Auctions Better?

As you plan your next big fundraising event, you know that charity auctions will bring in high dollar amounts. A charity benefit auction is a proven way to engage supporters and get them excited about giving charitable donations to your cause.

But as you hash out the best fundraising ideas, there’s a decision you must make before moving forward in your charity event preparations. Are silent charity auctions or live charity auctions best? Each method has its advantages, and each has its drawbacks. Which one is the best match for your charitable event, your audience and your budget? Which charity benefit auction style will encourage guests to raise their charitable contributions? To help you decide, Getaway2Give has outlined the pros and cons of silent and live auctions for you here.

Silent Charity Auctions

Silent auctions are generally conducted one of two ways – using printed bid sheets or a mobile bidding application, permitting bidding directly from a cell phone. Auction items may be both donated and consigned. Popular items may include jewelry, purses, sports and music memorabilia (may be autographed), to name just a few. Silent auctions are often organized as a complement to a live auction to increase funds raised.

The Pros…

Conducive to particular kinds of items. Certain items are more popular at a silent auction than a live one.

Promotes donor interaction. As guests ponder prospective purchases, you can meet and chat with them throughout the event and guests can readily socialize amongst themselves.

Best for certain events. A silent auction may be the most appropriate option for events without a formalized dinner or central gathering place and time – for instance, a golf tournament or festival.

The Cons…

Inhibits guests from bidding.  Many people are reluctant to be the first bidder on silent auction items, and will pass by items that don’t already have a bid.

Induces neglect. Silent auctions are often passed off as secondary to guest speakers, presenters and entertainers, so guests may simply mill around the auction tables and brush off bidding entirely.

Requires complex planning. Acquiring auction items, preparing descriptive materials and setting up auction tables may mean more work than a live auction.

Live Charity Auctions

Your gala or charitable event will truly come alive with a live auction. Professional live auctioneers set the order of the auction-able items and is able to engage the crowd. Caught up in the moment, bidders will readily jump into the fray. It’s best to have eight or less items in a live auction, and keep things at a decent pace. The ideal time to start your auction is during the end of dinner and before dessert.

The Pros…

Suitable for higher ticket items. Private dinners, spa days, adventure travel and more expensive auction items are more easily sold, and for a higher amount, during a live auction.

Heightens bidding excitement. An emcee/auctioneer is experienced at capturing guests’ rapt attention, reinforcing the purpose of bidding as a worthwhile activity and conveying an enhanced perception of the true value for each item.

Encourages competitive bidding. Motivated by the urge to acquire what might be a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, guests are often swept into the action in an effort to be the winner in friendly bidding wars.

Brings in more dollars. As enthusiasm builds, bidding can quickly add up. In a matter of minutes, thousands of dollars can be raising during a live charity auction.

Adds a fun factor. Even non-bidders will enjoy the showmanship of an experienced charity auctioneer.

The Cons…

Requires a professional auctioneer. There’s nothing that is more disappointing than hiring an inexperienced auctioneer who doesn’t know how to engage an audience. You can’t go wrong when you hire a Charity Auctioneer Specialist.

Necessitates greater structure. Incorporating a live auction into your event means timing your activities and creating a more formal schedule.

Can provoke discomfort. Making charitable contributions publicly known is not for everyone. Others may not want to bid against friends or acquaintances.

May require a higher up-front cash outlay. Investing in live charity auctions may require upfront costs, but returns on your investment are likely to be much higher overall.

Consider all of your options. Don’t lose sight of the fact that an auction done right can pay off in huge rewards for needy recipients, and in that regard, convenience and cost should not override the overall purpose of achieving the goals of your cause.

Hear Adam Capes, President and Chief Idea Officer discuss his thoughts on the the pros and cons of Live Charity Auctions vs. Silent Charity Auctions.