4 Questions to Ask When Determining Starting Bids and Increments for Auction Items

Posted by Summy Lau on Feb 16, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Last week we discussed strategies for procuring buzzworthy auction items and preparing donors to bid. Today we explore another essential piece of the auction planning process: setting opening bid prices.

You spend months preparing for the annual auction, but when the night comes, you have just a few hours to meet your fundraising goals. So how can you set the starting bids and bid increments that best maximize your chances for success? 

The process can be a balancing act: Starting points that are too high may discourage bidding, while opening bids that are too low may limit revenue

Here are 4 questions to help you think through this important process.

1. What is the fair market value (FMV) of my items?

The fair market value (FMV) of an item describes its worth relative to similar items on the market and what buyers might pay. Knowing your item's FMV is a good starting point for determining an appropriate opening bid.

Online-shopping-1.pngSome items have a clear-cut FMV. Many donated goods like electronics, gift cards and collectibles can be found or compared to similar items on eBay and Amazon.

However, many one-of-a-kind, unique items can't easily be valuated—which is exactly why they generate the most "buzz" and highest bids. Here you'll have to look for other possible benchmarks to determine an FMV.

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Topics: auctions, event-production, bidding war

Spark a Bidding War at Your Charity Auction

Posted by Ian Lauth on Jun 24, 2014 10:05:00 AM

Charity Auction Bidding Wars

Bidding wars are awesome. They are intense, competitive and exciting for everyone in the room. It can also help raise a lot of money on a single auction item. That being said, bidding wars are also elusive and almost impossible to anticipate or create. There's just no guarantee that any of the items you've selected will ignite enough interest to get your event patrons to compete with each other. Or is there...?

Doug Sorrell, one of the nation's top benefit auctioneers, has had years of experience working auction events, and sometimes even he is surprised at what sparks the audience's interest. “In May 2013 I had a 'consigned' signed celebrity item for $5,500. The cost was $650. No one had any idea this would happen, or that this item would be the ‘spark,’” he recalls. 

5 Questions to ask before hiring a benefit auctioneer

Read: 5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an AuctioneerBefore you hire an auctioneer to emcee your fundraising event, use these questions to make sure they have the right knowledge and expertise to ensure a successful benefit auction and overall event. Read More →

Although you can't count on a bidding war, certain strategies may improve the likelihood that one will take place:

  • Hire a professional benefit auctioneer to host the live auction
  • Offer exciting, big-ticket items
  • Select items that tie in with the event's theme
  • Promote these items before and during the event

"At another event I had a commemorative rifle sell for over $5,000," Sorrell recalls, "No way should it have sold for over $2,500. Clearly having something like a Winchester at a Cattle Barons Ball made sense." And it does make sense. Donors attend events that are of interest to them, which can often tell you a lot about what items may be of interest to them. 

While the items you choose may or may not start a competition between donors, one thing is certain: your best chance at starting a bidding war is to hire an experienced professional benefit auctioneer.

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Topics: event-production, charity auction, bidding war

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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.