Silent Auctions: Strategic Bid Sheets & The 13-Line Formula
Hello, my Fabulous Fundraisers! Grab your bidders’ attention FAST and increase your silent auction revenue with my 7-Point Checklist For Profitable Bid Sheets.
Download FREE Customizable Silent Auction Bid Sheet Templates to make your planning easier, and now, let’s dive into my tried-and-true formula for success...
The most PROFITABLE way to lay out a bid sheet is The 13-Line Silent Auction Formula, and here’s my 7-Point Checklist for making it work.
Start With A Catchy Title.
When your bid sheets have good titles, it helps create engagement and persuade the bidder that it’s worth top dollar. Instead of just Beach House, how about A Romantic Getaway To The Coast? Which sounds like it’s worth more to you?
Write A Description That Entices Bidders With The Item’s Benefits.
“This package is PERFECT FOR YOU because you’ll get to relax, unplug, and uncork. Bottle included.”
Also be sure to include any dates, restrictions, and specifics you buyers need to know.
Leave Off All Retail Values.
Listing retail values on your bid sheets always limits your profits! If you list the value of an item as $300, you’re creating a psychological buying ceiling of $300, and if they’re in bargain mode, they may see the price, they may want to bid $300, but not more.
But WITHOUT the values listed, someone who really wants it might just bid $500 or more.
Thank and recognize every donor equally.
Here’s how to handle Live Auctions Values In Your Auction Catalog, too.
I like to recognize donors ON the bid sheets so their names are associated with the items they contributed.
Sometimes organizations choose to only thank donors in their catalog rather than on the bid sheets.
This is fine for live auction items as they are listed in the catalog, but for silent auction items, I think donors like it when their names are included on the sheet itself.
And if you DO decide to include names on the sheet, you MUST either include the names of EVERY donor associated with that item or NONE of the donors are listed.
Pre-Populate Bid Amounts.
To help hook your bidders, the first available bid line should be approximately 30% of the item’s actual value with bids increasing in 10% increments.
When bid increases are consistent and predetermined, bidders don’t have to think about the math themselves - very few people love to do math while they’re enjoying a cocktail.
Be Strategic About Which Line Will Represent The Retail Value.
Because each bid sheet will have 13 lines, the default for the retail value should generally be The 8th Line.
Once your bids hit the 8th line, you’ll know the bids have reached 100% of the item’s value... while the bidder will only see that they are halfway down the page.
Hence, “this item must be worth MORE.”
And if the Silent Auction item has been historically popular and sold over value last year, consider adjusting the formula.
You can set the first bid at a higher percentage, you can increase each bid increment to 15, 20 or 25%, or both!
The Buy-It-Now Line. In our 13 Line Formula, this will naturally land at 150% of the value or higher if you’ve adjusted your formula.
Your interested bidders can skip the unnecessary back and forth of a bid war and simply walk away with their preferred item at the stated price. Done.
With the 13-Line Auction Formula and my 7-Point Checklist, you are sure to see an increase in your Silent Auction revenue. But bear in mind: Silent Auctions typically bring in less than 20% of an auctions overall revenue, so spend your prep time wisely.