FUNDRAISING – Silent auctions

collection. If two people bid the same amount, invite them to submit a sealed bid on a piece of paper – the highest bid wins.

What kind of auction? Paper-based auction: Make up an information sheet for each lot and attach it to a noticeboard or clipboard. Write a description of the prize and use a photo, if possible. Include a recommended retail price and ‘sell-by date’, if appropriate, and leave room for people to write their name, contact details and amount bid. For higher-value items, suggest an opening bid as a guide.

Blind auction: If your supporters would prefer to remain anonymous, invite anyone who wants to bid to register for a unique number. They then write down their bidder number and bid amount against each lot.

Sealed bids: Make a bid box and get bidders to write their highest bid on a sheet of paper and place in the box.

Online auction: Set up an online silent auction as a fundraiser in its

own right or to attract bids before a live event. Post each lot on Facebook and use the comments section for bids. Remember to turn off comments before the event starts. Sites such as JumbleBee and PTA Events provide an easy way for people to view lots, do some research and start bidding. There’s usually a fee for this kind of service: either a percentage of the proceeds or a set amount for the year.

Fully managed auction: If your PTA is running a big-ticket event, you might consider hiring a specialist fundraising company. They will usually take a percentage of profits, but will run the whole show for you. Kamran Tirmizey, managing

director of fundraising at charity fundraiser D&G Group says: ‘PTAs are time-poor and volunteers may not have experience of managing events. People are doing the best they can but have other commitments, which make it hard to be efficient. A specialist company will produce a brochure, provide an event manager and even chase up payments for you after the event.’

Call in the experts

D&G Group’s Kamran Tirmizey explains how a charity fundraising company can

work with your PTA: l Once we’ve spoken on the phone, we arrange a face-to-face meeting or a Skype call. It’s good for us to see the

school and meet the people involved. l As your fundraising partner, we’ll produce a proposal. Depending on the event size, we’ll suggest either a free, paper-based auction or provide a technology-based option where guests can review lots and bid before the event using a website or smartphone. Mobile and tablet bidding continues at the event, where we can set bids to appear on a screen at the back of the stage – an excellent way to start bidding

competitions between peer groups. l We produce a 20-page glossy brochure highlighting any prizes the school has sourced and adding a selection of exclusive experience

prizes from our own contacts. l On the day, we provide an event manager and hosts, depending on how

many guests are expected. l When people arrive, they can look through the brochure, select items of interest and then make a bid; all bids are sealed in a locked box to comply

with GDPR. l At the end of the night, we text the winning bidders and take payment

Five top tips

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Reach out to everyone you know. Find as many members of your community who can donate items of true worth that will appeal to your bidders.

Don’t be afraid to aim high. Tell potential donors what prize value you’re after – in monetary terms. Use low-value items as raffle prizes.

Provide prizes with enough variety to appeal to your audience. Seek out one-of-a-kind items such as VIP tickets to big sporting events, a meal on the chef’s tasting table at a Michelin- starred restaurant, or use of a luxury car for a weekend. Can you get someone to give away a week at their holiday home? Could an artist offer to do a bespoke piece of artwork?

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Between five and ten high-value items is an ideal total to aim for, and will give you more profit for less work than many smaller items.

A good master of ceremonies is key. A silent auction doesn’t have the competitive aspect of

a live auction, so you need to whip up excitement, let the audience know if any lots haven’t been bid on and where potential bargains are to be had.

44 AUTUMN 2019

straight away by credit card. l After the event, we chase up any remaining payments and the account should be settled within five days. Our team look after winners for up to a year after the event to ensure they can book their experiences at a convenient time.


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