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December 21, 2010 >> back to issue

Tip of the Issue: Silent Auctions

PHenomenal Hope for a Cure event planner Carol Lindstrom, left, and Betty Lou Wojciechowski, keynote speaker, rightPHenomenal Hope for a Cure event planner
Carol Lindstrom, left, and Betty Lou
Wojciechowski, keynote speaker, right.

This "Tip of the Issue" comes from Carol Lindstrom, PH patient, support group leader and event planner from Bellevue, Neb. Carol recently hosted the tremendously successful PHenomenal Hope for a Cure Luncheon on Nov. 6 in Omaha, Neb. In addition to the lunch and presentation portion, the fundraiser also included both a live and silent auction. We asked Carol to share some of her strategies for conducting a fun and inviting silent auction. Read on for everything from calculating a starting bid to making the big ask.

General Tips:

  • Start early (4-5 months in advance).
  • Be certain you have some items where the bids can start small so everyone can participate. [PHenomenal Hope for a Cure] had items retailing from $10 to more than $100.
  • Consider adding a starting bid for items — especially those of higher value. This is usually around 40 percent of the retail value.
  • Reserve those items of highest value for a live auction.

Acquiring Items from Acquaintances:

  • Each “Periwinkle” [a PHenomenal Hope for a Cure planning committee member] is asked to bring five items for the auction. (These are either purchased or acquired from businesses they know.) Additional purchases are made closer to the event date to fill in areas of need.
  • An announcement is made at our support group and participants are asked if they have any items to donate. We get some great items there.

Soliciting In-Kind Donations:

  • When soliciting stores and businesses, carry a letter describing the event, a W-9 letter from PHA and an in-kind donation form from PHA (and invitations to your event, if available). 
  • Ask for the manager or person in charge of donations, but tell the person you are talking to what you are there for. Often the person you would like to see is not there, so find out when he/she will be there and follow up.  
  • Go in teams of two to three people if you do not personally know the prospective donor.
    Use the word “consider” when asking for a donation. They can consider giving a gift without saying no.
  • Appeal to the donor’s advertising advantage. Explain the number of people attending your event and how they will see the item on display.
  • Remind the donor that auction gifts are tax-deductible [in accordance with tax law].
  • When you go out, always go with a positive attitude. A positive attitude and a smile will get you far in this endeavor!

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