Fundraising Ideas That Work: How to Get Your Crowd Ready to Bid

Fundraising Ideas That Work: How to Get Your Crowd Ready to Bid

Priming the Pump for Better Bidding

There are many fundraising ideas that work and getting the crowd excited about bidding on charity auction items at your live auction is a great start. Follow these expert tips to prime the pump, inspire anyone’s inner philanthropist and watch the bids roll in…


Put a professional auctioneer in charge. The skills and helpful fundraising ideas of a professional auctioneer cannot be overstated. You want to raise big bucks, right? A benefit auctioneer has experience engaging donors. He or she understands how to rev up interest in charity auction items and build enthusiasm for higher bids. Hiring a professional auctioneer will pay off handsomely in the end.

Make sure your sound system totally rocks. The sound system should be of the highest quality to ensure that every word spoken, shouted or sung is clear and distinct. If guests can’t hear what’s going on, if there is static or echo or hum, and they have to lean over to a friend and ask, “What did he say?” then your auction will be a royal failure. Positioning speakers in the corners of the room rather than all up front is usually best for balance.

Serve good food prior to the live auction. Hungry guests are not happy guests. When guests are satiated with fine food, wine, delectable desserts and coffee they may feel more sociable and ready to be a part of the action. This will always be an important thing to remember for fundraising ideas that work.


Limit speeches and announcements
. A charity fundraiser is not a business meeting, nor is it a time for lectures or lengthy speeches. It’s perfectly acceptable to have a couple of brief presentations. Just make sure they are meaningful reminders of the purpose of your fundraiser and designed to inspire guests to donate by participating in the live auction. Then, get on with the show! Guests should be looking forward to the auction as the main event, but their attention span is limited – so take advantage of it!

Keep the auction moving. Boredom should never be allowed to happen at a live auction. On the contrary, charity auction items should be introduced at a steady clip so guests never have time to wander off, for fear they will miss out on the next item. Good pacing requires an auctioneer who can ‘read’ the audience, monitor their reactions and respond quickly and appropriately. He or she will optimize every minute of the auction– and it should be no longer than one hour.


Sequence auction items correctly. Start off with a few tangible, relatively affordable items. This tactic will rope in guests on a gradient and appeal to a broader base of guests. Then, build up to higher-priced items toward the end of the evening, and end with a couple of lesser expensive items to maintain engagement and give bidders who missed out a chance to buy.

Get visual. A video or slide show with pictures and descriptions of the items – particularly for exciting intangibles such as adventure travel — ensures that everyone in the room can see and understand exactly what’s being auctioned at every moment. Creative visuals done right can enhance the perceived value of any item and promote a desire to bid. And they are essential for marketing smaller items so that everyone sees the item clearly.

Make it fun. While your charity is dedicated to a serious cause, the auction is all about good fun. The professional auctioneer should make guests feel welcomed by encouraging involvement in a lighthearted way. Jokes, comedic antics, singing, whatever it takes to hold guests attention throughout the auction will go a long way toward ensuring they don’t wander off and prefer to hang out at the bar – or worse, leave early.

Entertainment is key. Your auctioneer should be an entertainer. Having celebrity guests perform is a nice adjunct to the evening, but during the auction, the auctioneer runs the show and should be the one to ensure a lively, memorable, moneymaking event.

Use professional ring men. You can hire professionals who will work the crowd, interact with them, add to the fun and identify bidders.

Are these tips helpful? Need more ideas for putting together a successful auction? At Getaway2Give, we’ve helped hundreds of nonprofits raise much more money than they ever thought possible. Visit Getaway2give to learn more. We can offer practical advice from our many years of experience.