31 Ideas for Unique, Buzzworthy Silent Auction Baskets

Posted by Summy Lau on Apr 25, 2017 7:11:00 AM

If you've ever been involved with a charity silent auction, you know gift baskets are a given. They can range anywhere from $50 to $500 in value, depending on the quality and exclusivity of the items, and are popular for a few reasons:

  • The contents are relatively simple to procure. It may be less intimidating for new donors, smaller businesses and individuals to sponsor part of an auction item or a basket rather than the big-ticket items in a live auction. (Of course, that doesn't mean you shouldn't ask!)
  • You can bundle smaller donations into one package greater than the sum of its parts, especially if the baskets are well decorated and displayed.
  • Putting out a variety of themed baskets ensures the auction will appeal to virtually all bidders. There's something for everyone, at all spending capacities.

Last year we curated a list of 26 creative, attractive silent auction basket ideas sure to make a splash with donors. The post generated a huge response from our readers - so much so, we went back to the drawing board for even more ideas!

Without further ado, here are 31 brand new ideas for unique, buzzworthy silent auction baskets, plus free resources and downloads to assist with the procurement process.

Category: Food & Drink

Tea Basket-617630-edited.jpg1. A Spot of Tea. Combine a pretty tea pot with plenty of tea (both bagged and loose leaf) in a variety of flavors: fruit, herbal and black. Include a tea steeper, honey, crackers, cookies, biscotti, truffles and a tea towel. Spruce up the package with fresh decorations to complement the color of the pot and teas, like lavender flowers, lemons or peppermint sprigs. (Pin source: Allison B.)

2. Chocolate Celebration. Who doesn't love chocolate? Curate an assortment of gourmet chocolates, caramels and chocolate-covered fruits, nuts and coffee beans from around the world (check this guide for fair-trade artisan chocolate). Add antioxidant-rich hot cocoa powder and a chocolate fondue set (complete with skewers and melting chocolate) for good measure. Finally, consider including a cocoa-factory tour or tasting to top off an all-around luxurious basket.

3. Cheers to Beer. Craft beer is hugely popular right now, and any basket stocked with high-quality, full-flavored global beers is sure to be a hit.

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Topics: Silent Auction Ideas, event-production, auction item procurement, silent auction items, auction displays

How One Silent Auction Chair Procures 700+ Items Annually

Posted by Summy Lau on Apr 11, 2017 9:12:42 AM

Procurement Tips from Heather Dean Presnall, National MS Society.png

Whether your fundraising event is in one week, one month or one year, chances are your charity auction could benefit from a few more unique, valuable items.

Are you getting items that will "wow" donors, sell tickets and ultimately generate the bids needed to meet your revenue goals?

If not - how can you equip your procurement committee with the necessary tools for success?

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Topics: donor-relations, auction item procurement, procurement packet

Craft Beer Is Selling Like Crazy at Fundraising Auctions

Posted by Summy Lau on Oct 13, 2016 8:48:22 AM


You know wine is a tried-and-true staple of charity auctions. Cases of custom-labeled or vintage wine, trips to Napa Valley, winery tours and more have always been magnets for bids.

Now another drink has caught the attention of fundraisers: craft beer.

As mentioned in our recent webinar "Ask a Professional Benefit Auctioneer!", auctioneers around the country have recently noted a huge spike in interest in ales. At a 2016 meeting of the National Auctioneers Association, they concluded craft beer is one of the hottest items being sold in fundraising events today. 

How can your organization take advantage of the trend?

Combine craft beer with experiential travel, a consistent top-seller at charity auctions. "Beercations" offering unique tours and tastings, plus deluxe accomodations and travel arrangements, make for one standout auction item.

In the spirit of Oktoberfest, hoist a stein and read on for highlights of Winspire's best lager-loving travel packages, including a brand-new update to the Samuel Adams Boston Experience. (Like all Winspire Experiences, these no-risk trips cost nothing upfront to include in a fundraiser - your nonprofit only pays for the items that sell!)

Then, enjoy a delicious beer chili recipe perfect for brisk fall days.

 West Coast: San Diego Craft Brewing Scene

VIP Brewery Excursion, Chauffeur, Manchester Grand Hyatt 3-Night Stay with Airfare for 2 (3450-2)


Did you know sunny San Diego is considered the "Craft Beer Capital of America"? Local breweries like Stone Brewing Co., AleSmith Brewing Company and Ballast Point (pictured above) are consistently rated among the top breweries in the world. The Great American Beer Festival’s “Best Small Brewer” Award has gone to San Diego County brewers multiples times, including 2014’s winner, Coronado Brewing Company.

With more than 100 local breweries, microbreweries and pubs in the city, beer enthusiasts are flocking to get a taste of these highly acclaimed hops.

Imagine sending your donors on a 5-hour, VIP custom excursion at 3-4 breweries of their choice. 

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Topics: travel-experiences, auction item procurement, auction item ideas

Top 5 Reasons Nonprofits Steer Clear of Consignment Travel

Posted by Summy Lau on Mar 17, 2016 9:44:43 AM


When it comes to procuring auction items, we always encourage nonprofits to think outside the box. After all, your donors are sophisticated philanthropists who attend multiple fundraisers each year, and unique items like travel Experiences keep your event fresh, relevant and interesting.

The catch: these items are among the most challenging to get donated.

Consignment travel packages help bridge the gap between travel's popularity and its difficulty to procure. So why do some organizations hesitate to use it?

Here are the top 5 reasons nonprofits choose not to use consignment travel packages in their charity auctions.

1. "We're looking to raise money, not spend it."

Imagine you've just walked into a store when you hear an announcement: You're the lucky 1000th customer to walk through the doors, and you've won a thousand dollars!

Would you accept the money?

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Topics: travel-experiences, auction item procurement, consignment travel

3 Steps for Organizing Your Auction Item Wish List

Posted by Ian Lauth on Feb 10, 2014 11:20:00 AM

3 Steps for Organizing Your Auction Item Wish List

A good old-fashioned brainstorm session is a great way to get the ball rolling to come up with ideas for unique no-risk auction items, although it’s important to take a second look at the list before your team begins the process of procuring these items. 

After holding a brainstorming session with your auction committee, your next step is to organize the long list of auction item ideas, adding or eliminating items as needed. Here’s how to make this process as effective as possible.

1. Organize your list into categories

It’s unlikely that your audience will share all of the same interests and hobbies. That’s why it is important to offer a varied selection of items at your fundraising auction. When organizing your list, separate ideas into four different categories:

  • Physical Items
  • Unique Experiences
  • Services
  • Sports

Separating the list into these categories will help you ensure you have a wide variety and also identify the areas where you’re lacking items.

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Topics: fundraising, auction item procurement

5 Qualities to Look For When Building Your Auction Committee

Posted by Ian Lauth on Feb 6, 2014 10:24:00 AM



Building a solid auction item procurement committee isn’t just a matter of selecting the first people who volunteer. The individuals who make up your procurement team can have a huge impact on the items you secure for the big event, which in turn will impact how much money your event raises.

Don't be afraid to be selective. An auction committee with too many people can quickly become unmanageable. While it's important to give all interested parties a chance to help your cause, not everyone is cut out for auction item procurement. Make sure you have a list of other jobs you can assign eager volunteers who want to contribute.

Following are the five things to look for in an effective procurement committee member:

1. Availability

Even with the best intentions, people can get sidetracked if they are dealing with a busy schedule. Let potential team members know upfront the amount of time and dedication that is required. Although you can never be sure whether members will stay true to their word, you can at least get a better idea of how much free time they have, and whether or not they will actually be available to help.

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Topics: event-production, auction item procurement

3 Ways to Procure Auction Items Based on Donor Interests

Posted by Ian Lauth on Jan 23, 2014 9:10:00 AM

Three Ways to Procure Auction Items

A great way to increase your chances for fundraising success is by procuring auction items with donors' interests in mind. You’ve spent time cultivating donors, establishing positive donor relations, and learning as much information as you can about your supporters – so why not use that information to your advantage for auction item procurement?

There are a number of 'donor cues' you can use to match items to your audience. Here are three you’ll  want to consider:

1. Hobbies/Interests – What do your donors like to do in their spare time? Ask questions of your donors and find out what they enjoy, and then cater your offerings to them!

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Topics: fundraising, auction item procurement

3 Mistakes to Avoid While Procuring Auction Items

Posted by Ian Lauth on Jan 21, 2014 8:48:00 AM

3 Crippling Mistakes to Avoid While Procuring Auction Items

Procuring auction items isn't an exact science. How are you supposed to know you’ve made the right decisions and secured the right items? While there's no guarantee that certain auction items will be a hit at your event, you can significantly increase your chance for success and improve donor relations at the same time by avoiding these top three auction procurement mistakes:

1. Procuring auction items without researching donors: The donated auction items you’ve secured for the big night may seem exciting and interesting to you, so that means donors will want to bid, right? Well, not necessarily. Don’t assume that your donors have the same interests, hobbies and budgets as you. 

Spend time researching and getting to know your donors instead. Important demographic information such as careers, age, interests, income and family status can help you pick auction items that attendees will find exciting and want to bid on.

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Topics: event-production, auction item procurement

6 Reasons Why Consignment Items Raise More Money and Make Life Easier

Posted by Ian Lauth on Nov 25, 2013 8:24:00 PM

Consignment Items for Benefit Auctions Make Life Easier

The Scenario: You and your auction planning committee hold a successful wish list party and your procurement team leaves pumped and excited, with a long list of ideas for unique auction items to go retrieve. Fast-forward a couple months to a few weeks before your event and you realize no one has had success acquiring any of the items on your wish list. 

Sound familiar? Then it may be time to consider the possibility of reserving consignment items for your benefit auction.

"Consignment" literally translates to the act of placing an item in the hand of another, but retaining ownership until the goods are sold. In the auction world, this means a company will lend you an item to include in your auction with no upfront cost. Then, if the item is actually sold, you buy the item from that company using a portion of the proceeds, and the remaining difference is your profit.

Now I know what you’re thinking, “Why offer consignment items if I don’t get to keep all of the money?”

The answer is because consignment items can make your life a whole lot easier and still generate a lot of money for your cause. Here are a few reasons why:

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Topics: event-production, auction item procurement, consignment

Auction Item Procurement is All About “The Ask”!

Posted by Jeff Cova on Nov 22, 2013 10:03:00 AM



Once you’ve built a wish list of charity auction items you’d like to acquire for your charity auction, it's time to prepare your procurement team to go and get those items.

Asking businesses, organizations or individuals to donate items or services can feel uncomfortable for many people. It’s important to instill a sense of confidence in your team and lead with positive reassurance. Help them understand the importance of “The Ask” and that if you don’t ask, you don’t get

8 Tips of an Effective Ask

The way your team approaches potential donors with the procurement packet to ask for contributions largely affects how many times they will hear the word “yes”. To get your team of “solicitors” ready and willing to ask for item donations, offer them some of these useful tips:

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Topics: fundraising, auction item procurement

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Meet Winston & Winnie, the Winspire Twins

Winston & Winnie love to help Nonprofits raise money for amazing causes. They also love to travel and have a bucket list of amazing Experiences they are determined to complete in their lifetime. Winspire News is the result of this shared passion, offering fundraising advice, industry news and insight into charity fundraising with travel.