6 Tips for Setting the Stage For Your Auction

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When hosting any fundraising event, the attendees themselves (read: potential donors and supporters) are likely at the forefront of your nonprofit’s strategic planning. But there are other elements to consider when auction planning that are just as important. To ensure that your event goes smoothly and encourages as much support from attendees as possible, don’t forget to plan for your auction’s stage design.  

What is event stage design? According to Spacehuntr’s Ultimate Guide to Event Stage Design, it is the strategic optimization of a venue through the addition of physical objects. 

We’ve put together a list of our 6 best tips and ideas for setting the stage for your next auction, including

  1. Understanding common stage design elements
  2. Knowing your theme and audience
  3. Selecting your stage design essentials
  4. Hiring an event production team
  5. Remembering branding and marketing
  6. Bonus tips to go above and beyond

1. What is Stage Design?

As stated previously, stage design can be described as the “strategic optimization of a venue through the addition of physical objects.”

That means the purposes of each piece of set design will vary, dramatically. From promoting a sponsor, your brand, signifying a theme, or simply providing suitable visuals and audio for your guests. The most common fixtures are as follows:  

  • Lighting
  • Furniture
  • AV
  • Decor
  • Banners
  • Backdrops
  • Props

The medley of fixtures you need varies depending on the size and type of event you are planning. And in this modern age of the internet, this list gets more complex still. For example, check out these 10 useful interactive tools for hybrid events to see what it takes to host an event that is both in-person and virtual. 

2. Know Your Theme And Your Audience

The first step in preparing your stage design is knowing your theme. And by the theme, we mean the nature of what items you’re auctioning off and who you’re fundraising for. After all, your nonprofit’s mission and goes should be at the heart of any fundraising event.

Do the items you’re auctioning off include priceless art, comic books, or once-in-a-lifetime experiences? Your stage design depends a lot on your answer. 

If you’re selling antiques, your decor should reflect that and be in the classical style. If you’re selling superhero memorabilia, your branding and stage design should inspire the magic realized in those stories. 

The second start of this brainstorming process is thinking about your target audience, which for the most part, will reflect on your theme. Make sure to ask, “What will resonate with your audience?” and “What will excite them to bid on these items?”

3. Selecting What You Need (The Essentials)

While choosing your stage’s theme might be the fun part, don’t forget to consider the logistical items that your auction can’t do without. Some of the essentials for a traditional auction (we’ll be elaborating on bonus items later) include:

  • A raised stage/platform: So the items and auctioneer might be seen. 
  • A plinth: For sheer gravitas (and so the auctioneer to keep documents and their mic)
  • Microphone: So the auctioneer might be heard.
  • Speaker: So the auctioneer might be heard.
  • Chairs: Because it’s more comfortable and orderly than standing. 
  • Lighting: as well as being a practical necessity, if executed well it can lead to a greater sense of showmanship and pageantry. 
  • Backdrop: Branding and theme are important. Furthermore, a backdrop is a great canvas for your sponsors to have their moment. 
  • Banners: These can provide additional space to expand upon your brand and theme.
  • TV, Cameras, and WiFi: To facilitate a remote auction experience for everyone around the world! 

Don’t forget to test all of your tech ahead of time to avoid common event planning problems.

Once you’ve procured all of the essentials for your stage, you might be wondering, “How do I put all this together?” While you can select each of these aspects of the stage design individually, it might be worth looking into booking venues that are already auction-ready.

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4. Consider Hiring an Event Production Team

If your organization would rather not have to worry about all of the logistics surrounding stage design, another option is to collaborate with an event production team. For starters, they can carry out everything from the consultation and design process to using their trusted network of vendors to source the external items and services you need. 

This saves you time doing it yourself so that you can focus on other aspects of the auction, such as item procurement, and it also means a guarantee of quality. Event production teams often have expertise in event management, catering, event analyses, staffing, live streaming, content creation, and any other request you could think of. 

5. Include Branding and Marketing

Another aspect of event stage design that can easily be forgotten is branding and marketing. The stage at your auction is yet another opportunity to advocate for your cause while creating a cohesive and streamlined event.

You will most likely also want to turn up with brochures describing your nonprofit’s current projects, how funds from the auction items will be used, and how donors can continue to get involved with your nonprofit after the event is over. Don’t forget, this auction is a great way to raise funds for your organization, but it’s also an opportunity to garner new and continued support!

6. Bonus (The Next Level)

Our final section is on bonus ideas for your set stage design. This section is for those that want to go the distance to make their next auction their best one yet! 

And the extra effort is always worth it. It will work wonders for your brand and your reputation if your attendees have an exceptional experience. And what’s more, if they’re swept away by the magic of the occasion, well… it could drive up the bidding, right? 

  • Reception Drinks
  • Lounge
  • Catering room
  • Goods storage
  • Receiving/dispatch room
  • Info Desk

These additions will lead to a more rounded experience for your attendees. From hosting side events, networking sessions, or just a chance to take in some food and drink for the sake of it. These efforts won’t be lost on your clients.

And one final must-have that will take your auction is an event microsite. These pages are less complex than regular sites and focus on event-specific content. They’ll allow your guests to learn about the experience, register, and donate ahead of time.


We’ve covered everything from stage design basics to knowing your audience and bonus design features and more. We hope we’ve filled you with inspiration and ideas for your next non-profit event!  

And to leave you with even more to think about, remember, an auction is a timeless style of event, enigmatic in its rhythm and drama of the bidding race.

However, nothing exciting is ever stagnant; and the internet is redefining what it means to hold an auction. These events are no longer privy to those who arrive in person. Auctions are accessible anywhere and everywhere, no matter the location. That means you need to optimize your auction for satellite bidder and hybrid capability. 

You can stay ahead of the rest by checking out OneCause’s mobile bidding software.

Author: Harry Prince

Harry has been the Creative Content Manager at Spacehuntr since 2020. With a keen eye for SEO and strategy, his areas of interest include event technology, trends, marketing, catering, architecture, and interior design.

Wrapping Up

Ready to plan your next auction? Check out these resources for more tips and tricks:

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