Recently, I learned of a great idea that you can use to make even more money at your benefit fundraiser. It’s an idea to add to your raffles, drawings, games and auctions and it’s something copied straight from eBay! Sound interesting?
Your silent auction probably requires your ideas for silent auction guests to simply write their name and their bid amount for a particular item. The hope is that throughout the hours of your fundraising event auction participants will continually try to outbid each other, thus driving up the price of the item. Some participants find this process frustrating as they have to spend the entire afternoon or evening frequently checking the bid sheet and outbidding the previous bidder. They also continually check the clock as the end of the silent auction draws near, and with minutes to go before it ends, these people stand at the auction table in front of their item, competing with three other people, frantically placing what they hope will be the last and largest bid.
eBay has a fabulous feature which I have used many times and you can use it in your silent auction. It’s called Buy It Now. This feature is a godsend for people who want an item but don’t want to sit in front of their computers for days on end outbidding other auction participants. eBay sets a Buy It Now price — $19.95 for a tee shirt for example. If I really want that tee shirt, I take advantage of Buy It Now. True, I could have taken part in the auction, placed bids for 5 days and won the shirt for $5.95, but I didn’t care. I wanted the shirt and I didn’t have the time or patience to play the bidding game.
Use the Buy It Now option in the silent auction at your benefit fundraiser! Let’s imagine someone donated to your silent auction 4 tickets to a Green Bay Packers football game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay. At this writing the face value of 4 tickets is about $75 each or $300. Your hope is that people who came to your benefit to support a good cause would be generous and may even bid as high as $500 for the tickets. But what if there is that one person in the crowd who really wants the tickets and for whom money is no object? What if that person doesn’t want to spend all night bidding, checking, bidding and rechecking? What if you put a Buy It Now price on the tickets of $1000? Mr. Moneybags may sweep them up in a heartbeat! And if he doesn’t, what have you lost? Nothing. Your auction continues and a generous bidder wins the tickets for $500. You’ve still done very well on that item. It’s worth a chance!
Tom Zalaski is a television news anchorman who has helped coordinate and produce benefit fundraisers for countless groups and organizations. Tom has put everything you need to know about putting on a benefit fundraiser in his book simply and aptly titled, “We Need To Do A Benefit Fundraiser — But How?”