We’ve all seen bidding in an auction house on various TV programs. It’s not surprising an auction makes for good viewing. They are fast-paced, tense, and exciting. But, do you know how a silent auction works?
A silent auction works rather differently to a standard auction, in a way that may not make quite as good viewing on TV, but can be as equally tense, fun, and exciting when run properly.
While an auctioneer is also present at a silent auction, the process is a less riotous affair. All bids are placed privately without the knowledge of other bidders. Because the process isn’t as sequential as a traditional auction, you can also bid on several items at the same time.
What you need to know
Bidding in a silent auction can be performed in a variety of ways. Sometimes a bidder will use an individual piece of paper for each lot. Occasionally there will be a clipboard that features a list of all the lots. This allows bidders to enter their bid for each item of interest. Some silent auctions have a bidding sheet for each item, which allows the current bidder to see the previous bids made.
Once the allotted bidding time is over the auctioneer will examine all the bids and the highest one will claim and pay for the item. When several items are available at a silent auction the bidding will usually close in stages, with the lower value items ending first.
An increasingly popular format
The silent auction format has become increasingly popular in recent years, especially amongst non-profit organisations that are trying to raise money for charity. They are also popular with local associations that want to add a fun and engaging aspect to their event in a way that will also generate extra revenue for the cause.
There are rough guidelines for maximum participation, as too many lots can lead to some items receiving no bids at all, and too few might not generate enough interest. One lot per two attendees can be used as a rough guide for achieving a good balance. This balance can vary and still be successful depending on the value of the items being auctioned. For instance, it goes without saying that high-value items will generally generate more interest.
Will you enjoy a silent auction?
Many of the criteria for enjoying a silent auction are similar to a traditional auction. The primary motivator is the lots available. The more desirable they are, the more people will be invested in winning them. Equally as important for attendees of a charity auction is donating to the cause, and the silent auction can provide a good vehicle for people to donate while having fun and potentially winning an item in return.
Despite being called silent auctions, you may be surprised by how lively a silent auction can be. Well-chosen lots become talking points amongst bidders. Sellers and donors want to see their items perform well in the auction, and your organisation wants to maximise the amount of revenue the auction generates.
What’s more, nothing is off limits for a silent auction, from physical lots to experiences.