Silent auctions are what the name suggests – auctions where the bidding is silent and orderly. No auctioneer is shouting over the din of several people talking together for placing bids, neither is there the typical feverish activities so common in traditional auctions. Rather, silent auctions are laid-back affairs and held as a complement for the main event. It is not unusual to have a gala fundraising dinner and have a silent auction at the side, simply to increase the amount raised many times over.
How do silent auctions work?
There are several points of similarity between the general auctions and silent auctions. Both need a venue that has to be hired, and both require that the items for auction be brought to the hall for display. Here the resemblances between the two ends. While an auctioneer conducts the proceedings often boisterously, bidding at silent auctions is done through sheets placed in front of the items where the participants have to write their amounts.
Hence, the main point of difference between the auctions in general and silent auctions is the mode of bidding.
Bidding at silent auctions through paper sheets
At silent auctions, the items up for bidding are displayed on tables at the venue. In front of each item is a sheetthat has about 10 to 15 blank rows on them. A bidder starting the auction has to write the bid in the first row followed by the others as the bid increases. At the end of the auction, the winner is declared. A fundraiser can choose as many or a limited number of items according to the scale of the event.
Generally, when silent auctions are held along with another event like a quiz show or a fixed garage sale, the number of items is restricted so that the silent auction finishes along with the main event. Attendees that come to the dinner or entertainment can bid for the items while they are there. Unless it is full-blown and standalone silent auctions, these types generally endin an hour or two.
It is often seen that live auctions and silent auctions are held together with the silent auction having the low-demand items while the live auction the higher-priced and hot-selling items. It is advisable to close the silent auctionbefore starting the live auction so that the participants can focus on the live event. However, the checkout counter should be kept open after the close of the silent auction so that people who do not want to bid at the live auction can complete the formalities.
Bidding at silent auctions through mobiles
Bidding at silent auctions has become that much easier as it can now be done over any Internet-enabled device such as a smartphone, tablet, or laptop. Fundraisers who have introduced mobile bidding as an option has seen a marked increase in revenue primarily because of the convenience of the medium.
There are several advantages of bidding at silent auctions through mobiles. The auction can be kept open longer so that the guests have enough time to place their bids. If pre-bidding is allowed and the particulars of the items are displayed on a website, attendees can bid in advance according to their convenience and arrive at the venue just to collect the items if declared winners.
Also, a lot of time need not be wasted checking and calculating the bids written on paper. As soon as a bid is crossed a notification is sent about it and the bidder has the option to bid higher or drop out. Another convenient approach is that a bidder can set a maximum amount for an item and not participate in continuous bidding. A notification will be sent only when that price level is reached by someone else. However, the downside here is that when the bidding stops at a level much lower than the stipulated one, the high bid set previously has to be honored even at a loss.
Another benefit of mobile bidding is that the guests can stay connected with the auction even without being physically close to the items at the venue. Mobile bidders can take part from anywhere while on the go.
The most critical benefit of exclusive mobile bidding at silent auctions is that bidders get connected from all corners of the globe. Thus, the competition to get a favored item is very high leading to an increase in revenue. However, the downside is that after the auction is over the organizers have the responsibility of shipping and dispatch which for international destinations can be quite tricky. Hence, it is preferable to decide the scope and reach of silent auctions well in advance to avoid such problems later.
Lately, remote mobile in silent auctions have taken over in a big way and have become extremely popular. This is because of the Covid-19 pandemic that has led to severe restrictions in the form of lockdowns and the implementation of stringent social distancing norms. The traditional auctions with people crammed into halls became a strict no-no and fundraisers were hard hit. The rise of mobile bidding at silent auctions came as a blessing in disguise as auctions again started but with all statutory restrictions in place.
Regardless of whether it is paper bidding or mobile, the success of silent auctions depends heavily on how well it is promoted. Start an email campaign well before the date of the auction and create a buzz on social media platforms. Only when the participants come in good numbers will your efforts bear fruit.