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Displays 101: Impress Your Bidders with Better Silent Auction Displays

Posted by Summy Lau

Silent Auction Display IdeasSilent auctions are your organization's "one night only" storefront. And just like a brick-and-mortar retailer, creating an immersive shopping experience is key to generating revenue.

Part of the process is setting up the overall decor, like tables, lighting and decorations. But the highlights of the night are those great silent auction items.

Do your silent auction item displays encourage people to stop, look and buy?

Attractive silent auction displays can have a dramatic effect on the item's perceived value and thus bidding. Using the same colors, fonts and layout on all your display sheets also gives the event a professional, polished appearanceand saves hours of precious time.

Fortunately, creating great silent auction displays is easier than you might think.

Below are 6 elements of an effective item display sheet, plus a link to receive our Silent Auction Item Display Templates bundle, our easy-to-use, 100% customizable templates (with instructions) that will take your upcoming event to the next level.

One page

Most auction items are promoted with displays on a single sheet of 8.5" x 11” paper. This allows the description to showcase but not overshadow the item itself and makes it easier for guests to quickly skim without missing important details or restrictions. To add dimension, try propping the sheet up with a cardboard or acrylic stand so the display doesn't lie flat on the table (like these Uline adhesive cardboard easel backs, $25 for 100, uline.com). Your auction's featured items, like a travel experience or electronics, may benefit from a special poster sized description or tri-fold display.

Use Compelling Images in Your Silent Auction DisplaysCompelling images

A picture says a thousand words. Compelling visuals are especially key for intangible items like dining, services, experiences, tickets, or any item that cannot be physically displayed at your event. Photos of people enjoying experiences and items can help paint a picture for guests, creating a mental connection that encourages bidding.

A good rule of thumb is to allow for 1/3 of your space for imagery and 2/3 for the rest of the description. If you do not have any images from the donor, you can easily do a quick search on Google Images to find a relevant generic image.

Restaurant gift certificate? Grab a picture of people dining.

Mani-pedi? How about a photo of a luxurious spa or nice nails?

Handyman service? You get the idea.

Download Silent Auction Display Templates logo

Consistent header

Consistent displays make events look more polished. One easy way to do this is putting the same header (like a business letterhead) at the top of each item display. A few pieces of information to include:

    • Your organization and/or event logo and mission statement: Reminding bidders that they're supporting a good cause tends to ease normal spending barriers like "I don't really need that..." Place this header either at the top or bottom to prevent clutter. The most important information in the display is about the item itself.
    • Item Number: The size and placement of this number depends on your organization and bookkeeping system. If it's important for the bidder to see, make sure it's visible. If not, save space for other elements on the page.

Big, bold title

Make the item title BIG! The title will be the first impression your bidders have of the item, and a concise, catchy title helps guests remember that particular item so they want to come back and bid again.

Use a font size that separates the title from the rest of the text (30-48 pt. font), and limit other font size use to no more than two. Any more than that will make the display text appear disjointed.

Item description (and the "fine print")

Every item needs a description. Whether it's spelling out the contents of a gift basket, providing the technical specs of a gadget or listing the expiration date of a gift certificate, the description helps bidders know exactly what to expect.

Keep the description short and sweet, and avoid long, flowery descriptions. Guests rarely linger on a single display for more than 30 seconds, so descriptions with multiple paragraphs will simply go unread.

To convey lots of information in limited space, bullet points can help. If the item is present, try to have bullets point out features and benefits that may not be obvious.

Some other essential item information to include:

    • Restrictions: If there are any package restrictions, conditions or exemptions, include them after the package details.
    • Location: Include the location where the service or certificate can be used. For example, you'll want to specify if a restaurant chain donated a certificate valid only at certain locations.
    • Redemption dates: If applicable, include with the package details the date(s) or days of the week that the auction item experience will happen or can be redeemed. If a pair of New York Giants tickets are donated, list the date and time of the game.
    • Minimum Bid: If one is required, make sure it is obvious. You can also prefill the bid sheet with your designated minimum bid amount. For help setting minimum bids on your silent auction items, check out this article.

Matches the bid sheets

Use the same headers on your bid sheets as your item displays (with the organization and event logos, mission statement and item number) for a consistent look throughout. For tips on creating professional bid sheets or to download our accompanying bid sheet templates, check out 'Bid Sheet 101'.

Matching the Silent Auction Display and the Auction Bid Sheet

You've worked hard procuring "wow"-worthy auction items you know your bidders will love. Don't let any of them get lost in the shuffle! Sign up to receive our FREE, 100% customizable item display sheet templates below and take your silent auction fundraising to the next level.

Download Silent Auction Item Display Sheet Templates

Silent Auction Ideas, Event Production, Silent Auctions, Auction Displays
Summy Lau
Summy Lau
As Fundraising Editor, Summy brings hands-on experience in nonprofit development, event fundraising, publishing, copywriting and design to Winspire News. She creates blog content, infographics, templates, eBooks and other resources to help fundraising professionals and volunteers exceed their fundraising goals. Her two favorite perks of working at Winspire: hearing nonprofit success stories and dreaming of new bucket list destinations.

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