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Ssshh... Have You Heard About The Super Silent Auction?

Posted by Ian Lauth

Super Silent Auctions - Have You Heard of It?


When planning your charity gala’s live and silent auctions, have you ever had an item or two that seemed a little high priced for the silent auction tables but did not quite have the appeal for your live auction? Or perhaps you already have too many items in the live auction, but there are some other special items you want to call attention to. It can be confusing trying to figure out how to best utilize these items, and the super silent auction may be the best answer to this dilemma. 

What is a Super Silent Auction? 

A super silent auction is a subset of your normal silent auction and includes higher priced and/or special items that did not make it into the live auction. These "super" items are usually showcased separately on tables made more visible with extra lighting or signage to call attention and maximize bidding. 

The ideal size of a super silent auction is between 1-3 items. Limiting it to three helps maintain the exclusivity your offering and makes it much easier to hype the items before and during the event. 

Some examples of super silent auction items include:

  • Gas grill or Big Green Egg®
  • Consignment travel packages or a weekend trip
    (Check out our new Silent Auction Starters)
  • Home entertainment system or smart TV
  • Fine jewelry

It's entirely up to you what you want to include. Just make sure there is a special appeal to the item(s) you select. There is nothing "super" about a gift basket. 

Download our free list of over 300 amazing auction item ideas

How do I set up my Super Silent Auction? 

Your super silent auction table needs to be an obvious feature at your event. This will make it easier to generate additional buzz about the items that is separate from your live and silent auctions. 

  • Make it the first thing people see. Near the registration table is always a great place to set up your super silent tables. Since there won’t be many items in this space to contend with, you can easily make the items stand out. Guests are also fresh and excited as they arrive and check in. Leverage this excitement and get them in a shopping mindset by making sure one of the first things they see is your table of incredible "super" items.
  • Display the auction items in a high traffic area. If the registration area is not ideal, consider placing the super silent table in the middle of the silent auction room. Use ropes and stanchions to create a little pomp and circumstance and also to prevent unwanted bumps from passersby. 
  • Use lights strategically. Wherever you decide to place your super silent items, make sure the area is well lit with multiple spotlights. Decorate the area so it stands out from the rest of the auction tables using balloons, signage and colored lights. Your objective is to make it POP!, so don’t hold back.

How do I promote my Super Silent Auction? 

A super silent auction isn't really “silent” at all, because you want everyone to hear about it!

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Related: Top 5 Tools for Promoting Your Fundraising Event on a BudgetOne of the best ways to ensure a profitable fundraising auction is by promoting your event - and your best auction items - early and often. Click here to find out about the five best tools for promoting on a budget. Read More →

  • Incorporate into your pre-event promotion. You should already be advertising your event with email campaigns designed to sell more tickets, communicate sponsorship opportunities and highlight your live auction offering. Take advantage of your existing social media and email campaigns to generate some enthusiasm by including a special announcement about the super silent auction. Guests will be far more receptive to these items, and more people will compete for them, if they know what to expect before they arrive at the event!
  • Give guests a sneak peak. Try creating a little mystery by covering an item and pulling back a corner to reveal only part of it. Take a picture of and include it in your pre-gala announcements. Doing this will help generate excitement about the event itself.
  • Make multiple announcements at the event. During the event, have the auctioneer or emcee make a few special announcements directing people to the super silent suction. This is especially important during any dedicated silent auction time, such as cocktail hour before the dining room is open, since you have a captive audience. As the event progresses and the auction is nearing its end, increase the number of announcements to build excitement and encourage more bidding.


How do I close the Super Silent Auction? 

Regardless of when your other auctions close, you want a special close for your super silent auction. Consider closing it at the end of the evening. This will entice your guests to stay until the end. It also offers those who were not successful bidding in live or silent to still compete and win something.

In fact, if there's some spirited bidding going on for a super silent item, it might make sense for the auctioneer to turn it into an impromptu live auction to generate some extra revenue.

Amplify Event Revenue by Selling Auction Packages Multiple Times

Related: Amplify Event Revenue by Selling Auction Packages Multiple TimesLearn how you can sell any no-risk travel package multiple times and double, triple or quadruple the amount you raise on a single item. Read More →

If you do anticipate a bidding war, whether silent or live, consider including a Winspire travel experience, which can be sold to multiple bidders on the spot. You can talk with the top two or three bidders and see if you can settle on a price that all three would pay. Imagine the excitement and goodwill of tripling the revenue to your nonprofit on one of these items!

Let’s Do This. 

As the pressure to add creativity and entertainment to your event increases each year, the super silent auction is a wonderful way to add another dimension that will still generate more revenue for your nonprofit. So sneak it in, but don’t be silent about it. Let everyone know there is a fun new way to participate in your event!

Speak to an Expert

Ian Lauth
Ian Lauth
With an extensive background in marketing development and content design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue. Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals.

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