In my consultations with clients, I’m often asked for my opinion about items.
- “Should we include this airfare?”
- “Will we make more money if we package THESE together, or THOSE together?”
- “How should we promote this?”
If the gala only has a silent auction, I’m never asked whether an item belongs in the silent auction or live auction – there’s no choice!
But if the gala includes both components, the “silent versus live” debate surfaces.
In this post, I want to discuss how an auction item can be affected by its placement in a silent section versus the live auction.
One of my clients has a wonderful patron who looks like Santa Claus. All around the world, people stop him to comment on his resemblance to St. Nick.
- In 2008 the charity created a fun live auction item package in which this patron agreed to dress as Santa and attend a holiday party. The item sold for almost $2000.
- In 2009, the item was moved into the silent auction. There were two active bidders, and it sold for around $600.
Why the difference?
There are specific marketing techniques that should be used for silent auction items, and a different set of marketing techniques that should be used for live auction items. But even when those are followed, there will be a difference in sale price because of the method of sale. Putting an item in the live auction will always garner it more money than what it can bring through a silent auction.
Keep this point in mind as you structure your auction.
If more money is always garnered in a live auction, then why have a silent auction? Should everything just be sold at the live auction?
Thanks for the comment, Jim!
There are many reasons as to why a group may decide to have a live and/or silent auction. Most events have multiple goals. Although making money is important, it’s sometimes more important to recognize large donors or key volunteers. In addition, many galas are not relying on auction income as the primary source of revenue.
When structuring a benefit gala, organizers are considering the timeline for the event … the type of crowd … the number and types of items … the other activities to accomplish that night … the political nature of the event … and many other factors. It’s a mixed bag that is unique for each group. Sometimes a live auction fits into the strategy; other times it doesn’t.