Posted by: joyousgalaevents | July 12, 2008

Donation Ideas for Silent and Live Auction Fundraisers

To keep your auction organized you have to divide up your auction into small groups of like items.  It’s the easiest way stay organized while soliciting donations and at the auction itself, your bidders will be able to find what they are looking for.  You can decide the names of your categories one of two ways.  You can have the same category names from year to year that accurately (but dryly) describe what the items are.  Or you can make up new names for the categories each year according to what your theme is.  No matter what you decide to call your categories or how you decide to divide them up, there are a few categories that make up the basis for any auction.


  • Live Auction (Premium Items):  These are the best of the best of your auction items – the ones that are going to command the highest prices and cause the greatest excitement during the Live Auction.  At a school, these will often be the class art project.  For other organizations, these will be elaborate vacation items, expensive objects d’art, or valuable collectibles.
Vacation Getways can be a popular auction item. (

Vacation Getways can be a popular auction item. (


  • Getaways:  Always a hot ticket item, this includes vacation rentals, transportation and activities at the getaway location.  For many organizations, these will be the personal vacation homes of its constituents.  You can also solicit one or two night stays from local hotels.  Airline miles are also a popular item to both donate and bid on.
  • Sports & Leisure:  This is an encompassing category.  It includes everything from tickets to sporting events to gym memberships.  This is a popular category because bidders can often get items at below market price – it’s a great place to pick up a deal.  It also has many possible subcategories by which you can divide it even further.  
    • Health & Fitness
    • Day Adventures
    • Leisure Activities
    • Memberships
Tickets to sporting events like baseball games are usually a hot item.  (Stock.xchng,

Tickets to sporting events like baseball games are usually a hot item. (Stock.xchng,

  • Studio & Design:  This category includes any valuable piece of artwork or other design piece.  It will often include paintings, lithographs, pottery and handmade jewelry.  These will often be expensive pieces of artwork or other handcrafted artisan pieces.
  • Food & Drink:  Almost anything associated with food and eating can go in this category.  It will often consist primarily of gift certificates to restaurants, but can also include wine, bar accessories, barbeque accessories and cooking utensils.
Barbeque (stock.xchng,

Food items like accessories for the barbeque are usually hot auction items. (stock.xchng,

  • Services:  This is a popular category, often has many items, but they have one of the lowest winning bid prices in comparison to their actual fair market value.  Your constituents will find “a deal” in this category.  Here they can get massages, haircuts, home repair and financial services at great low prices.  This category can often be divided up into several sub-categories based on the type of service provided, such as:
    • Professional Services
    • Beauty and Relaxation
    • Home Services
    • Pet Services 

Dog Walking (stock.xchng,

Attendees like to bid on services they can get at a bargain, like a dog walking service. (stock.xchng,






  • Kid’s Stuff:  Don’t forget the kids – especially if you are an organization that specializes in services for minors.  Parents like to find special gifts for their kids and it’s the perfect opportunity for them to pick up a special gift for other kids who are friends or relatives.  Make sure to have plenty of kid-friendly items on hand.  These items often sell well compared to their fair market values. 
  • Parties & Catered Dinners:  There is nothing like a great party – and many people are willing to pay to go to one.  Make sure that your parties center on some special theme and you are sure to attract interested buyer.  You should usually sell a ticket to the party by individual or by couple and price them accordingly.  For small parties, such as a wine tasting, you can sell the party as a whole for one couple to buy in order to invite their friends over for a special evening. 


Wine Tasting (stock.xchng,

Auctioning off parties, like a wine tasting, is usually highly successful.(stock.xchng,





  • Treasures:  This category encompasses the widest variety of items.  In fact, when an item doesn’t fit anywhere else, you can often make the case that it’s a “treasure”.  It includes gadgets such as DVD players and cameras, clothing and accessories such as scarves and purses, special items for the home and garden such as rugs and small appliances, and other unique individual items that are sure to become someone’s treasure.  You can sub-divide this category as well in order to bring order to the wide variety of items:
    • Household Items
    • Gadgets
    • Clothing and Accessories
  • Staff Offerings:  This category works particularly well for schools – though other organizations will profit from it if used appropriately.  Families love to buy items created or services provided by the people with who their children spend many of their days.  Special lessons or activities given by a staff member can create a wonderful, memorable gift for a child.  At one school, the staff offerings had the highest winning bid amounts compared to the fair market values – almost 120% of value!
  • Wines:  Many people will look for special, unique or rare vintages of wine at an auction.  It’s the opportunity for them to try something new or find an old favorite.  You can make this a separate category (from Food & Drink) if you are going to have enough items to warrant it.
  • Baskets:  There are so many great ideas for baskets at an auction and people love to buy them.  Creative, unique baskets sell the best.  People will buy them to pick up a collection of items they’ve been wanting to try – such as a Bath Basket – or as a gift for someone special – such as a Tea & Reading Basket for a friend.
  • Entertainment:  This includes everything to enjoy a night out on the town – movie tickets, concerts, the ballet and the opera.  This category also can have items related to entertainment memorabilia, such as autographed photographs, promotional items and other collectibles.  

Musical Performances (stock.xchng,

Tickets to musical performances usually get several bids before finally selling. (stock.xchng,









  1. Nice writing style. Looking forward to reading more from you.

    Chris Moran

  2. […] Fundraisers 12 Jul 2008 | 11:10 pm | Category: Uncategorized       unknown wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt… to enjoy a night out on the […]

  3. […] – bookmarked by 4 members originally found by subscribingprince on 2008-08-16 Donation Ideas for Silent and Live Auction Fundraisers – bookmarked by 5 members originally found by […]

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