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 needed for the 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?
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 silent auction that features 1-3 valuable, highly sought after items that did not make it into the live auction. To maximize bidding, these "super" items should be showcased separately with extra lighting, special signage and dedicated announcements from the auctioneer.
Some examples of super silent auction items include:
- Gas grill or Big Green Egg®
- Home entertainment system or smart TV
- Luxury hotel stays (like Winspire Luxury Properties)
- 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 99 percent of silent auction gift baskets.
Set Up a 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.
Here are a few tips while setting up the table.
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.
Limit the size to 1-3 buzzworthy items.
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.
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.
Promote a Super Silent Auction
A super silent auction isn't really “silent” at all, because you want everyone to hear about it! A few tips:
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 peek.
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.
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.
Related: How to "Double Up" on Auction Profits by Selling MultiplesLearn 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 also 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!