Charity Auctions For Beginners

Putting up charity auctions is a fun and exciting way to engage donors whilst raising money for your mission. The fundraising event may be engaging and less stressful for the people involved, but the planning is challenging, especially if you’re a beginner. 

You might have multiple questions about fundraising events, but the most important one you should ask is, ‘How do charity auctions work?’

Whilst we will guide you with the planning that goes with local charity auctions, be enlightened that fundraising events over the past decades have changed in terms of organising. With charity auctions today, we integrate new technology and use digital marketing to invite people or hold online auction events. 

Read on to find out how.


What Is the Key Purpose of a Charity Auction?

The evolving technology helps make things easier. It accounts for new factors to track and additional logistics to consider. However, preparation and planning are critical to a successful and profitable fundraising auction. 

Charity auctions can be in the form of a live auction, silent auction, online auction or a combination of the different types. Any non-profit organisation or individual can host a fundraising event for a cause. 

Live auction events have the appeal of being social and lively in nature and can drive the urgency to bid; however, this can be very costly and requires planning. On the other hand, online auctions are easy to plan and can engage participants from anywhere in the world. But it’s hard to maintain their attention and may not drive the urgency to buy the items you’re selling.

Each auction type has its benefit and can engage in its way, but it’s best to remember that fundraising auctions are flexible and can fit your non-profit organisation’s needs. The primary purpose of any fundraising event is to raise money, whether it’s for a specific campaign or an overall cause. 


What Kind of Auction Should You Hold?

You may already have fundraising ideas but have difficulty deciding which auction type may fit your fundraising event. You may also imagine bid paddles, a five-course meal and an auctioneer calling out the items and the amounts. But you’re not limited to only a live auction event. You can choose from different types, each of which has its benefits. 

Here’s a breakdown of each type:

• Silent Auction

A silent auction is an in-person event different from the usual live auction type. One significant difference is the absence of an auctioneer. All the items are placed on a table for free browsing of the participants. If interested, they can write their bids on a small piece of paper and put them in a box beside the item. 

At the Helping Hand Group, the classic paper-and-pen silent auction format is called Ballot Bidding®. We design and print our Ballot Bidding® forms, which include information about the auction items. 

With newer technologies, you can also opt to use mobile bidding software where participants can conveniently bid using their smartphones. An electronic silent auction lets your guests engage directly whilst on their mobile device.

In a silent auction, the organisation has the opportunity to engage with the donors. But one disadvantage of silent auctions is the absence of an auctioneer to drive them to bid.

• Live Auction

Live auctions are the most engaging and fun type of auction. The bidding can happen fast and can be highly engaging for donors. Donors place bids by raising a bid paddle and calling out the amount they’re willing to pay. 

The only downside is that organisations may not have time to interact with the donors since the event tends to follow a structured format. An option to go around this is to combine a silent auction with the regular live auction to provide ample time for organisations to interact with the donors and other participants. 

• Online Auctions

With an online auction, you can invite participants from around the globe. A vital prerequisite, however, is putting up an online auction site. This site features images of the items and product descriptions with button prompts to indicate your bid. 

Before bidding, registration is required with all essential details, such as credit card number and shipping address. Also, ensure that your auction site has strong website security and that all confidential information about your participants must be encrypted and stored safely. 

The disadvantage of online auctions is the inability of organisations to interact with donors face-to-face. However, online auctions can be paired with any in-person auctions to create more options for donors and participants. You can also have the online bidding open before the in-person event to allow ample time for more participants to bid and thus raise more funds.


What Are the Other Steps to Remember?

There are other steps to remember to have the best fundraising event. These will ensure your participants and donors will want to attend again if you plan to set up another fundraising campaign. 

• Budget Costs and Creating a Goal

Budgeting accordingly and considering all costs before proceeding with the plan is imperative. The aspects you must consider include auction items, staff, venue, decorations, food, drinks and other miscellaneous costs. It would be better if you could ask for donations or volunteers to help plan the event, which will significantly cut costs. Ensure that the money you’re trying to raise is realistic and attainable.

• Have a Reliable Team

Having a team you can count on and trust is vital for these fundraising events and can make planning and logistics relatively easier to handle. Forming the following committees and hiring specific individuals can complete your staff:


  • Procurement team to solicit auction items
  • Event planning committee
  • Logistics committee
  • General committee for registration, clean-up and item check-outs
  • Auctioneer, auction spotters, auction monitors and emcee.

• Solicit Auction Items

One of the best ways to minimise costs when planning for a fundraiser event is to solicit auction items. Your procurement team does this early on during the planning phase and will leverage their connections with businesses and retailers to donate some of their products or services. A solicitation toolkit is a necessity for your procurement team and includes the following components:

  • Information about your fundraising event
  • Donation pledge forms
  • Auction invitations
  • Solicitation letter 
  • Auction item ideas
  • Charitable disclosure statements.

• Auction Promotion and Marketing

Getting your fundraiser event out there is one of the most critical steps to ensuring you have a successful auction. Whether by word-of-mouth or other means, there are multiple channels you can tap to make sure people participate and attend your event. 

Perhaps the best option is to have a charity auction site that has all the important details to eliminate the need to print physical auction catalogues. Plus, the website link can easily be shared via social media or other online platforms. 


Helping Hand Group Auction Services: Lending You a Helping Hand

The Helping Hand Group has been providing auction services you can trust since 1997. Our expertise in live and silent auction events has helped multiple clients raise funds for leading charities, schools, communities and other clubs. Our assistance comes at no cost, and we’ll see through your event from planning, setting up and  until the auction event finishes. 

Are you looking for fundraising ideas on a budget? Let us give you a helping hand. Connect with us and we can arrange a consultation session.