Procuring Auction Items: Score Donations in 5 Simple Steps
Procuring the perfect range of silent auction items is the best way to ensure event success. Your items and packages are the main attraction (and revenue generator), after all!
To set you on the path to auction success, we’ve put together this step-by-step guide to auction item procurement. It has all the tips and tricks you need to procure the perfect items, build awesome packages, and raise more revenue.
Read through the guide to learn about the entire process or use the list below to jump down to a particular step.
Steps for Procuring Auction Items:
Step 1: Review Donor Data
If this isn’t your first charity auction event, it’s important to take a look back before taking a look forward. Prior to planning this year’s event, review your past silent auction item performance.
Keep an eye out for:
- Which items had the most bids?
- Which items had no bids?
- Which items met or exceeded their value?
- Who donated those popular items?
By looking at past performance, you can get a clue as to what kinds of items were most popular with your audience and what items you should go after this year.
Don’t forget to keep things interesting for your donors. Try bringing back the items that were wildly successful and then add new items that fit your donors’ interests and hot trends.
As you create your auction item wish list, consider these two main factors:
- What are my supporters interested in? People will only want to bid on things that are useful, meaningful, or interesting to them. Consider the hobbies and interests of your supporter base to get an idea of which items might be most appealing.
- What’s the spending level of my supporters? Choose items that fit into your attendees’ budget. Go back through past auction data to help get a sense of your supporters’ capacity to bid on your items.
Once you’ve reviewed your data, create a list of auction item ideas. Having a “wish list” to draw from will help your procurement team focus their search!
Step 2: Put Together a Procurement Team
Because securing auction items is such an important part of your success, you’ll need to put together a procurement team.
The procurement team can be made up of staff, volunteers, or both. When creating your team, look for individuals who are:
- Willing to ask: While this may seem simple, most procurement committees will have members who are timid about asking for donations, especially at first. These individuals must feel confident in the pursuit of high-quality item donations.
- Well-connected: Individuals that are connected within your community are priceless. The more people they know, the greater your nonprofit’s reach will be. Well-connected people are key to finding unique, desirable items that will spark top-dollar bids.
- Organized: Silent auction item procurement takes persistence. You won’t get a “yes” every time, so organization is key. With the need for consistent follow-ups, members must be able to keep track of their solicitations and responses.
- Available: There’s no denying that item procurement is time-consuming. Individuals who join this committee will need to fully understand their role in the silent auction process and the time commitment they’re agreeing to.
This committee will have the sole responsibility to solicit desirable, unique items that cost little to nothing and will drive ticket sales and bids. Choose the right individuals set your auction up for success!
Step 3: Solicit Items
Now that you have a plan and a team, it’s time to get out there and start soliciting your auction items!
Procuring auction items is about who you know. Your team should start by asking coworkers, friends, family members, and other personal and professional connections to donate items. Then, turn to local businesses and retailers.
Now this is where the rubber really hits the road: your auction request letters! The letters are often the first introduction to individuals and businesses that you’re having an event, need silent auction items, and want to offer them recognition and visibility as a part of their support. So, make those letters count!
When writing a compelling donation request letter, be sure to:
- Address the decision maker.
- Acknowledge your donor relationship.
- Begin storytelling.
- Provide a call to action.
- Provide demographics, event stats, etc.
- Explain the benefits.
- Invite them to the event.
- Thank them and sign.
- Provide a donation form.
A powerful donation request letter will be the perfect asset to your procurement committee. After all, the less money you have to spend on bringing in great items, the greater the return on investment will be for your auction. And that equals more money to power your mission!
Step 4: Track Your Donations
As items start coming in, it’s important to keep track of your donations. Every time you procure an auction item, be sure to make a record of it in a centralized place, such as your auction or fundraising software.
Staying on top of tracking your items will help you know what items you have, what you still need, and how much value you’ve procured towards your goals. Additionally, if you plan on hosting an auction again in the future, it will be easier to look back and gain insights from your past events.
Consider adding this information to your item records:
- The item’s name and number
- A detailed description of the item
- Name and contact info of the item’s donor
- The item’s starting bid and minimum raise
- The item’s retail value
- Name and contact info of the item’s winner
- Any restrictions, expiration dates, etc.
Step 5: Print Out a Master List
Once you’ve procured your auction items, you’ll want to print out a master list.
The master list will be your physical record of all auction item data compiled in one place. If you’ve been tracking your donations in your auction software platform, you already have one! Throughout the planning process and auction, this list will help your nonprofit stay organized and keep track of all of your items.
With all data in one place, marketing, setting up, and auctioning off your items will be so much easier for you and your team.
Powerful missions need powerful fundraising software! The OneCause Fundraising Platform makes giving modern, flexible, and seamless to drive deeper engagement and grow your fundraising. The intuitive platform increases bidding and helps you raise more. Take a look at this versatile all-in-one fundraising software that meets the expectations of today’s donors, supporting any event – in-person, virtual, or hybrid.
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