Exotic trips like an African photo safari, a trip to Tahiti, a visit to Japan, and other fabulous destinations are some of the best silent auction items when it comes to total dollars raised for your cause. It’s simple to arrange these from an auction consignment company and they provide all the promotional material and descriptions. The key when offering these types of expensive auction items is to promote them ahead of time on your website, Facebook page, event flyer, etc. so that your attendees arrive eager to bid on these big-ticket items.
Vacation Trip Packages
Turn related donations into a vacation trip package. For instance, Disney offers nonprofits a donation of four ParkHopper passes which sell for $356. Bundle that with a vacation rental deal at a nearby hotel or resort condo. Include a fun basket of things to do and eat on the road trip there and you have a complete vacation trip package. Also, there are several auction consignment companies that offer very desirable vacation trip packages at prices where you can easily net $1,000 or more on each package at auction without any upfront cost.
Unique artwork is highly desirable, but hard to get donated from major artists. There are some items you can get on consignment, but it’s often better to be creative and about ways to come up with your own artwork. For instance, you can turn photographs of local noteworthy landmarks into printed canvases generated by over-sized inkjet printers. There are websites that can create a “fire map” of your city’s streets where an aerial view of a neighborhood has streets painted in a bright high-contrast color scheme that makes the streets look like they are on fire on the printed canvas. These types of creative silent auction items can spark a bidding war that can easily triple the suggested selling price.
Unique Dining Experiences
Offer a dinner for eight at a top local restaurant where the chef cooks right there at table-side. That’s much more unique and enjoyable than a cooking class! Include some specialty donated wines in the experience and ask the restaurant to waive the corking fee. Or, you can put together a group dine-around where a group of 10 to 12 people is chauffeured to a series of top restaurants each Friday night for a month. The more different and unique the experience is, the higher the value it will command at your auction.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
A company called Fundraising Rides offers hot air balloon rides in over 200 cities across the country. They provide a complete silent auction display with pictures, description and miniature hot-air balloon. You get a two-person package and a four person package and only pay if they sell, which they almost always do if promoted properly. Selling both trips will net your cause $600 from these two silent auction items.
Signed music memorabilia make great silent auction items if properly promoted. Most of these sell for several hundred dollars each, but don’t use too many of them or you won’t get enough bids on each one to drive the prices up where you need them. The consignment companies provide descriptions, certificates of authenticity, and will ship them to you for your event. Most expect you to pay return freight if they don’t sell, so don’t go overboard on the quantity. They are still an excellent way to raise large amounts of money because they are unique silent auction items that get music fans excited.
You can get sports memorabilia for your silent auction by requesting a donation from your local pro sports team and by ordering some high-end items from one of several auction consignment companies. Usually, local teams will donate one signed item per nonprofit per year, so going the consignment route lets you offer several other options. Don’t offer too many of these. Get creative and bundle a signed jersey with some donated game tickets. For best auction results, publicize your most expensive items well ahead of your event.
Luxury Vacation Rentals
Another source of great silent auction items are vacation accommodations available through consignment firms. They handle all the paperwork, provide detailed descriptions & photos, plus they allow you to reserve available dates and list them at your auction. That’s perfect for when you want to offer a ski condo in Breckenridge for the Christmas holidays during a November silent auction. There’s a wide range of properties available at resort destinations all across the country. Most of the firms let you offer four different vacation rentals at your auction which lets you net thousands of dollars from offering these vacation deals at your auction.
Unique Experiences for Students
Work with local merchants on donations that will help bring them business in return. Instead of asking an ice cream parlor for a gift certificate, ask them if they can offer a child a chance to create a unique ice cream flavor. The experience can be shared with a dozen friends (think birthday party) or their school classmates (think field trip).
Combine similar donated items into super baskets such as a Spa Day, Day at the Beach, Craft Beer Tour, Vineyard Tour, Pub Crawl for 12 (think birthday or anniversary gift). Or offer a small group of people (4 to 8 individuals) a fun outing such as Powerboating Cruise, Canoe Trips, Whitewater Rafting, etc.
- Creative silent auction items are a breeze if you combine multiple donated items into themed baskets.
- Combine lots of different food items into a super party basket by bundling it with some donated wine. Create an Ultimate Coffee Lovers basket with exotic blends, a French press, or gift certificates for freshly roasted beans each month for a year.