45+ Free & Virtual-Friendly Silent Auction Item Ideas

FREE BONUS: See our list of the TOP 15 Auction Item Ideas. You can save this resource as a PDF and use it for your organization’s next charity auction event. Make your next auction an overwhelming success!

Auction items are arguably the most important element of any live, silent, or online auction. They’re the main attraction of the event, after all! The right selection of charity auction items can generate a lot of attention and bids — which translates to a substantial return on all of the time and hard work you put into planning your event.

Whether you’re planning ahead for an exciting in-person auction or looking to bolster your virtual fundraising efforts with an online event, a great catalog of items and packages will be essential.

At OneCause, we’re experts on charity auctions, so we’ve assembled a showcase of the best online, live, and silent auction items to help get your event off to a strong start. Plus, we’ll share a few item procurement best practices to save you time and to take your auction offerings to the next level.

Here are a few of our favorite auction item ideas:

Use this table to jump straight to your own favorites, or follow along with us from the top. First, we’ll cover what you need to know before getting started — pro tips for auction item procurement.

Auction item procurement is one of the most important parts of planning this fundraising event.

Auction Item Procurement: Best Practices

Auction item procurement is the process of identifying items you want for your event, soliciting and acquiring them from donors, and building a catalog of offerings.

After all, your virtual, live, or silent auction items will be the stars of the event! It definitely pays to devote plenty of time and thought to procuring the perfect assortment to offer your bidders.

Here are a few pro tips to ensure your auction item procurement efforts are successful:

Follow these tips for effective auction item procurement.

1. Form a team.

Auction item procurement can be a major undertaking, regardless of the  size of your event. Don’t try to handle it all on your own. Instead, form a procurement committee of several staff members and volunteers instead. Sharing the workload of soliciting and tracking items helps you better focus your efforts to build out a diverse range of items and packages.

2. Get started early.

Effective item procurement takes time! You’ll need to brainstorm a list of items, identify potential donors for each one, and personally reach out to discuss your event with them. Start several months in advance of your auction whenever possible. For instance, we recommend that when planning a school auction for the spring, you should begin the procurement process during the summer before.

3. Review your donor data.

Use your existing donor data to learn more about which items will be most appealing for your auction’s audience. Look at donors’ past engagement habits to determine metrics like average gift amount and event attendance. How old are your average donors? How much can they comfortably afford to bid on auction items?

Targeting your procurement strategy with hard data is always a smarter move than relying solely on assumptions about what donors will like.

4. Create an item wishlist.

After reviewing your donor data, work with your committee members to brainstorm a list of items you’d love to offer at your live, silent, or online auction.

A concrete list of item ideas, even some that initially seem out-of-reach, will be invaluable for focusing your procurement efforts. With a shared vision and an easy way to keep track of your progress, your team will save time and stay on the same page.

5. Use donation request letters.

As you identify potential donors for your auction items, like businesses, individuals, and other organizations in your area, use letter templates to save time. Check out our guide to silent auction donation request letters for examples, templates, and more tips.

Ask for specific items in your requests for silent auction items to make it easier on the donor.

Once you begin the procurement process, make sure you’ve got a standardized method in place for keeping track of your items! As you go, record your secured items or packages in your centralized auction software, as well. This will save you time and a logistical headache later once it’s time to compile your complete auction item catalog.

For more procurement tips and examples, explore our master list of silent auction strategies.

With a solid procurement plan in place, it’s time to start brainstorming your auction item wishlist by exploring some top item ideas! Let’s dive in.

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These classic auction item ideas are surefire picks.

Classic Auction Item Ideas

When you think of a classic charity auction, you probably imagine one or more of these top picks! These auction items are classic ideas for organizations of all sizes because they work.

For live events, silent auctions, and virtual auctions, items like these can provide a strong return on investment. Some might be a little difficult for smaller teams to source and procure, but consignment services and other organizations can be invaluable partners.


Gift baskets are the most flexible and popular charity auction item ideas.

Gift Baskets

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Gift baskets of related items around a theme are classic silent auction items for events of all sizes. We’ll list a few top auction basket ideas below.

This multi-item packaging strategy works well because it creates additional value. By bundling standalone items together rather than offering them individually, you generate much more interest and competition. Plus, themed baskets are extremely flexible! Brainstorm the basket ideas that will be most appealing for your audience.

Memorabilia

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Signed memorabilia is another classic auction item idea for live, silent, and virtual events. Working with a consignment service can give you access to these types of main attraction items.

Signed footballs, movie posters, guitars, celebrity photos, and first edition books are all great ideas. Think about your donors’s interests and your community. What types of memorabilia would be must-haves for your bidders?

 

 

Signed memorabilia is a classic auction item idea for all types of events.

Tickets to the perfect event are another great auction item idea for nonprofits.

Event Tickets

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Tickets to hot events are another classic online, live, and silent auction idea. Think sports games, Broadway shows, concerts, and more. Reach out to local venues to discuss the possibility of a donated ticket package, and be sure to think about what types of events will be most exciting for your donors. If you’re able to snag the right tickets to a sold-out event, you can generate a lot of bids quickly.

Wine packages and wine walls are classic charity auction item ideas for live events.

Wine

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Wine is one of the most reliable charity auction item ideas. Procure donated bottles of fine vintages, and offer them as standalone items, bundled as a package, or (our favorite method) through a wine wall. This event lets guests buy a “pull” ticket, which they then use to randomly select one bottle from your display. Note that for online auctions, shipping alcohol yourself might be out of the question.

Artwork is a classic charity auction item idea for all kinds of events.

Artwork

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Artwork is another surefire online, live, and silent auction item. For nonprofits whose donors are excited about owning a unique, rare, or simply beautiful piece of art, this can be an excellent way to anchor your item catalog with a main attraction. Stay flexible, though, and consider which types and styles of artwork would be most effective. Read our complete guide to selling art at auction to learn more.

Fitness packages are popular silent auction item ideas that can be adapted for all kinds of audiences.

Fitness Package

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Fitness packages reliably attract attention at charity auctions. You might include paid yoga classes, a gym membership, home workout equipment, or gift cards to a local sporting goods store. Think about how your target donor likes to stay active. What can you offer that will catch their attention? For virtual auctions, explore online-based fitness services and classes that you can offer.

Pro Tip!

Giving your donors the ability to bid directly from their smartphones will boost results for any type of auction – live, silent, or virtual. Plus, you’ll get to ditch the logistic challenges and errors of paper bid sheets.

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These showstopping charity auction items will get a lot of attention.

Showstopping Charity Auction Item Ideas

Whenever possible, we recommend anchoring your auction item catalog with one or two showstoppers or “main attraction” items. These items or packages will be the big-ticket draws for your event.

The right items can be extremely effective at generating a buzz and securing registrants for your live, silent, or online auction. Then, supplement your catalog with additional standalone and packaged items that span multiple price ranges.

For many of these items, working with partners or a consignment service might be your best bet. Here are a few of our favorites.

 

Travel packages are classic showstopping auction items for events of all sizes.

Travel Packages

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Luxury vacations and unique travel packages make excellent big-ticket items for live, silent, and online auctions. Work with a consignment partner to source the perfect travel package for your target bidders.

Make sure to offer packages with flexible scheduling options if social distancing or travel restrictions will be a concern during your event. Additionally, consider how much your target audience can easily afford on travel. For instance, an international getaway might not be the right fit, but a domestic flight to wine country could be more appealing.

Celebrity Meetups

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Another go-to auction item is celebrity meetups and other opportunities. If your organization counts a number of celebrities (even notable local figures) among your supporters, reach out to organize a charity meetup.

A meal, round of golf, or speaking engagement with donors are great options. Consider your target audience and their interests. Athletes, actors, musicians, authors, and local leaders could all be effective picks. Think carefully and reach out to the appropriate individuals (or PR managers) to discuss your event.

 

 

A meetup with a celebrity is a unique and attention-grabbing charity auction item idea.

Fine dining reservations or gourmet packages make excellent silent auction item ideas.

Fine Dining Package

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Do your donors love to wine and dine? Curate a special fine dining package for your next live, silent, or online auction. Reach out to the top restaurants in town to solicit donations of reservations and four- or five-course meals, plus a chauffeur for the night. Or, for a more affordable, DIY-style package, offer gourmet ingredients, a bottle of wine, and specialty baked goods or delivered desserts in a luxury auction basket.

Golf pointers from a pro are one of our favorite auction item ideas for many organizations.

Pro Golf Lessons

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Golf pointers from a pro could be the perfect showstopper for your charity auction if your target bidders are big golf enthusiasts. Solicit time from a local professional golfer or coach to spend a morning or afternoon with your winner on the course. For many organizations, golf-related fundraising ideas can be extremely popular. Some nonprofits regularly host complete golf tournaments that conclude with a gala and live auction.

Box seats at an arena or theater can be showstopping silent auction item ideas.

Box Seats

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Who wouldn’t love an exclusive seat and an amazing evening at their favorite local venue? Reach out to sports arenas, theaters, symphonies, or even opera houses in your area to discuss your event and solicit a donated box seat reservation for an upcoming event. You might even choose to bundle the box seat tickets with a reservation at a nearby restaurant and transportation for the evening. If in-person events aren’t currently happening at that venue, make sure to request flexible scheduling options.

Backstage passes or VIP experiences are excellent auction item ideas for many organizations.

Backstage Passes

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Similar to box seats, backstage passes are a showstopping offer for those more pop-culturally-minded. Are there any major acts coming to town, like a classic rock band or current chart-topping pop star? Research events in your area over the coming months to find the perfect opportunity, then reach out to the musicians’ management to discuss your event. Alternately, if in-person events aren’t in the cards right now, consider soliciting a VIP experience package with a local venue to be scheduled in the future.

Pro Tip!

Effectively promoting your showstopper items will go a very long way to boost interest in your live, silent, or online auction. If you’re new to digital marketing for fundraising events, check out our downloadable eBook. We cover all the essentials you’ll need to get started.

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Virtual-friendly auction items are ideal for online auctions.

Virtual-Friendly Auction Item Ideas

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic and its wider effects, nonprofits of all sizes have needed to adapt to the new realities of virtual fundraising. At OneCause, online auctions are our favorite way to continue engaging with your supporters and raising money, all from a safe distance.

Adapting a traditional live or silent auction for a virtual setting requires a few changes. For instance, you won’t need to worry about a venue, but you will need to be sure to set up a dedicated auction website, build a great item catalog, and equip your participants with mobile bidding tools.

However, you definitely still need to offer an exciting range of online auction items. If anything, the perfect assortment of items is even more important to attract a wider audience for your virtual event. Here are a few of our favorites.

Streaming services make easy virtual auction ideas for nonprofits.

Streaming Services

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With the rise of social distancing as a part of daily life for many, your supporters have likely found themselves consuming a bit more digital media than they used to! Tap into their new viewing habits to offer an easy-to-procure auction item idea – streaming service subscriptions.

Think about your supporters’ interests and what types of streaming shows, movies, and music they’d like. Be sure to consider which subscriptions they likely already have, as well. For instance, many people now watch Netflix on a regular basis but might not yet have allowed themselves to splurge on other services like HBO.

Tech Toys

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A fancy new laptop, tablet, smartphone, video game console, or even a smart appliance could be a big crowd-pleaser for your virtual audience. Tech can be an effective online auction item because it’s fairly easy to procure and makes a great impulse bid for donors who might not be interested in some of your bigger attractions.

Plus, many donors might already be considering purchasing the newest smartphone. If they can buy it through an organization they care about, it’s a win-win! If you’re hosting a school auction, be sure to look into handheld game consoles like the Nintendo Switch. Parents might already be planning to buy one for an upcoming birthday or holiday.

All kinds of technology are crowd-pleasing online auction item ideas.

Online classes are effective auction item ideas for virtual fundraising.

Online Classes

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A new industry has sprung up around online classes and education, ranging from academic pursuits to hobbies of all kinds. For your virtual fundraising auction, a subscription to an online learning platform can be a great way to entice a digital-savvy audience. Services like The Great Courses Plus and Masterclass offer classes spanning a wide range of topics, from history to cooking to yoga to painting.

A cozy staycation package makes a great online auction item idea for bidders.

Staycation Package

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If your supporters are already spending more time at home amid social distancing guidelines, why not make a vacation out of it? Create a staycation package full of fun at-home activities. You might include items like a cozy robe, a bath bomb, backyard gardening supplies, food delivery gift certificates, and more. Get creative to think of what will interest your target bidders. You can even bundle your package with a streaming service subscription to add more value.

An Amazon Prime subscription is an easy online auction item idea for all types of organizations.

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As another digital subscription that consumers have come to rely on, an annual Amazon Prime membership makes a great choice for your organization’s online auction. With fewer outings to physical stores, any donors who didn’t previously have a subscription to this service might now be considering it. Plus, remember to register your nonprofit with Amazon Smile, the company’s philanthropic arm that donates 0.5% of your donors’ purchases straight to your cause!

Kitchen appliances are appealing online auction item ideas for all kinds of audiences.

Kitchen Appliances

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Cooking is another at-home activity that’s likely been on your donors’ minds lately. Offer them top-of-the-line kitchen appliances like stand mixers, immersion blenders, Dutch ovens, herb garden kits, and more. Think of items that your audience of home chefs would have fun using but might not yet have purchased for themselves. You might even create a Home Gourmet basket to bundle your appliance, gourmet ingredients, and an online cooking class.

Pro Tip!

Virtual fundraising is both a new trend and a new necessity for many organizations. Try hosting a complete virtual auction and livestreamed gala to give your donors the classic experience from the comfort of their own homes.

We recommend our webinar series The Essentials of Virtual Fundraising (Part 1 and Part 2) if your organization is new to this type of campaign.

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These auction basket ideas are easy and flexible choices for your event.

Charity Auction Basket Ideas

Themed auction baskets are a classic pick for all kinds of events, like live and silent auctions, virtual fundraising events, raffles, and penny socials, to name a few.

Combining related items into a single basket has a few benefits for your auction. Instead of offering a number of lower-value items separately, creating a package increases their overall value and their appeal to bidders. Baskets can include physical items and more intangible prizes like gift cards, online subscriptions, or gift certificates for services.

Think about what types of themes would be most appealing for your unique audience, and then brainstorm items that could make a strong basket offering. Here are a few of our favorite auction basket ideas.

 

 

A sampler of local good makes a great auction basket idea.

Local Goods Sampler

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Create a silent auction basket to support your local businesses during these times of economic disruption. Donors at all levels will appreciate the opportunity to support your nonprofit and sample local goods that might become their new daily staples.

Items like food, coffee, beer or wine, ceramics, candles, and certificates for the services of local artisans could all be great ideas. Plus, small local businesses will likely be eager to get involved! Working with your organization gives them a positive association with your mission and gets their products in front of new audiences.

Beach Party Basket

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Who wouldn’t love a relaxing day at the beach? If your community is following social distancing guidelines, a themed basket full of beach items might be the perfect way to enjoy the sun from donors’ own backyards. This package should be very easy to source and compile.

Items like towels, sunglasses, sunscreen, an umbrella, and snacks are classic ideas, but consider other additions your bidders would like. Paperback books (or even a set of wireless earbuds plus a gift card for audiobooks!) might be an easy way to take your beach basket to the next level.

 

 

A beach-themed basket is an effective silent auction item idea for all kinds of audiences.

A collection of baked goods is one of the easiest auction basket ideas.

Sweet Treats Basket

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This silent auction item idea is another easy crowd-pleaser. Gather a variety of local baked goods – cakes, cookies, donuts, cupcakes, you name it! – or even include ingredients and recipes for bidders to create their own sweet treats! Be sure to include gluten-free and low-sugar options, too. This basket can be especially effective for events with kids or casual raffle, penny social, or Chinese auctions.

A camping-themed basket is a great silent auction item idea to get your bidders outdoors.

Backyard Camping Basket

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Create a basket for your adventurous and outdoorsy bidders. Gather camping goods like a tent, lanterns, a backyard fire ring, and (of course) crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows for s’mores. This auction item idea can be adjusted for both backyard and more rugged settings, but the at-home angle can be an effective draw for bidders with children or communities practicing social distancing.

A basket of lottery tickets is another effective silent auction item idea for casual events.

Lotto Ticket Basket

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Now here’s an easy auction basket idea. Purchase an assortment of scratch-off lottery tickets that span a range of values. Lottery tickets are fun impulse purchases for many, so let donors boost their chances of winning back while also supporting your causes! Just be sure not to overspend and run the risk of pricing your basket too high to attract the impulse bids that this item needs to succeed. Tip: Raffle tickets make great add-on purchases for auction events!

For big fans, a sports-themed auction basket is one of the most popular silent auction item ideas.

#1 Fan Basket

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Do you have a number of die-hard sports fans in your auction’s guest list? Attract their attention with a basket of awesome sports-themed items and official merchandise of a local football, basketball, or soccer team. Do a little research into your donor base and which sport is the fan favorite (or offer a package for each local team). If you have access to sports memorabilia, your basket can even become a big-ticket item.

Pro Tip!

Baskets of curated items are a classic choice for all kinds of fundraisers. Use these ideas for your silent auctions, live auctions, virtual fundraisers, raffles, and more. Get flexible to come up with the best baskets for your unique audience. Check out even more basket ideas here for extra help brainstorming.

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These silent auction item ideas are ideal for kids and families.

Perfect Auction Item Ideas for Kids

If your organization caters to kids and their parents, you should definitely focus on virtual, live, and silent auction item ideas that will attract their attention!

For instance, schools, youth groups, and community organizations all see great success offering kid-friendly items in their fundraising auctions. Your items could be for the kids themselves (to be bid on by their parents) or targeted specifically for the whole family to enjoy. A mix of both will help ensure your kid-friendly auction items span a wider range of values, helping you generate more revenue with your event. Here are a few of our favorites.

 

 

A reading from a local author can be a very popular silent auction item idea for kids.

Book Readings

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Are there any children’s book authors in your community? A special reading for your winner’s kids and their friends could be the perfect way to entice bids from parents! This can be an extremely popular auction item for schools and education-based nonprofits.

Research the local literary scene or ask a librarian for suggestions. Then, reach out to the author to see if they’ll donate an afternoon for a good cause. You might even bundle the book reading experience with a copy of the book and other add-ons, like a pizza party or other prizes that relate to the story.

Sign-Up Parties

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Sign-up parties are unique experiences and social gatherings that your organization can offer to donors either as auction items or as simple add-on purchases. As an auction item, you can offer guests the chance to win the whole party package and invite their friends. Learn more and explore a few ideas with our guide to sign-up parties.

As extremely flexible offerings, sign-up parties make great silent auction item ideas for kids and parents. Grown-up nights out or themed parties for kids are great examples, but get creative to take them virtual, if needed. A virtual movie night hosted by your school could be an easy way to entice sign-ups.

 

 

Pre-planned sign-up parties are effective silent auction item ideas, especially for schools.

Hot air balloon rides can be exciting auction item ideas for kids.

Hot Air Balloon Ride

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Assuming you’re not afraid of heights, a leisurely ride in a hot air balloon can be an exciting experience to offer the families at your auction. Chances are there’s a ballooning club or organization in your area or state. Do some research and reach out to see if anyone would be interested in donating a ride to your lucky winners. Just be sure to schedule your ride during the warmer months.

Daycare services can be an enticing and valuable silent auction item idea for many families.

Childcare Services

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Childcare can be a lifesaver for many families, whether for a few hours after school every day or just once in a while. Reach out to local daycare centers or professional nannies to solicit donations of a certain number of hours of childcare services. For schools, you might even organize an evening for kids to hang out at the school while parents get a night out.  This can be a hefty expense for many families, so childcare can be an effective auction item for many organizations.

Gift cards to local bakeries make this charity auction item idea a fun activity for families.

Best Cupcakes in Town

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This themed auction package lets your winners and their kids put all of your town’s bakeries to the test. Solicit gift certificates from a number of businesses that sell kid favorites, like cupcakes, so they can officially determine which is the best in town. Pizza restaurants are another popular twist on this idea. This silent auction item is effective because it’s essentially a several weeks-long activity for parents to enjoy with their kids.

Photography services are one of the most valuable silent auction item ideas for parents.

Family Photoshoot

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Competition for professional photography services can get fierce, especially around the winter holidays and Easter! Reach out to a local photography studio or freelance photographer who regularly works with schools to solicit their services for a private family photoshoot. Parents will jump at the chance to get their Christmas card arrangements squared away while also supporting your organization.

Pro Tip!

Live, silent, and online auctions can be very effective fundraising events for schools. For even more ideas for making your procured items stand out to parents and kids, explore our complete list of the best school auction ideas.

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Unique silent auction item ideas will generate plenty of interest from bidders.

Unique Auction Item Ideas

Sometimes you might need to go the extra mile to ensure your auction item catalog has something for everyone. A wide range of classic and unique items and packages will be your best bet.

These unique auction item ideas are appealing to a wide range of potential donors, which helps to generate more interest and revenue for your auction. Explore our favorite ideas, and then get creative to think of others that your particular community and donor base will love.

 

 

A community craft market could be a unique auction item idea to work into your event.

Community Market

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Farmer’s markets and craft fairs are more popular than ever. Tap into that interest with a unique community market twist for your silent or virtual auction. You could approach this idea a number of ways, but the main idea is to ask crafty supporters and local artisans to donate their handcrafted goods for your auction.

Ask participants to get involved ahead of time to create plenty of items for the event. Then, you might auction off baskets of their goods or simply offer them as buy-it-now items. Either way, your bidders get a unique, locally-made item, the artisans get publicity, and your organization receives the donations.

Donor Garden

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If your organization has a physical location with outdoor space for plants, create a unique donor garden and offer spots in it through your next live, silent, or online auction!

This idea is similar to the common recognition plaques, engraved bricks, and memorial benches you might be familiar with. Let your donors bid on the place of honor, their name engraved on a central bench or birdbath. Then, offer but-it-now options for donors to purchase a plant for the garden. As a symbolic gesture of support for your mission, a donor garden can be a touching auction item idea to incorporate into your event.

 

 

A commemorative donor garden is one of our favorite unique auction item ideas.

Bar crawls and winery tours are exciting silent auction item ideas for many donors.

Bar Crawls and Winery Tours

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Bar crawls and winery tours are popular silent auction item ideas because they’re fun! Organize a bar crawl in your town during a warm season, working with the bars to set a flat price for each participant at each stop. You could treat this as a sign-up party or as an experience for the winner to invite their friends to. Alternately, if your donors might prefer wine, arrange a personal tour with the vintner.

Pre-paid oil changes are a unique auction item to offer you supporters.

Oil Changes for a Year

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For the more pragmatic attendees at your live, silent, or online auction, you can’t beat the value of free automotive products or services for a year! Work with a local oil change shop or mechanic to arrange a deal, and be sure to offer them sponsor recognition during your event. A local repair shop can really strengthen their image and reputation in the area by partnering with a popular organization.

A luau party package is a great way to excite donors with your silent auction items.

Luau Package

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Give one bidder the chance to host the ultimate summertime luau in their backyard with a complete Hawaiian-themed party package. Decorations, catered food (including a roast pig!), and drinks should all be included. For some donors, this package will be irresistible! Or, get creative to come up with other backyard party themes your supporters will love. Work with local restaurants to arrange the catering.

Offer holiday decorating services at your auction.

Holiday Decorating

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This silent auction item idea is cost-effective and easy to pull off. Many of your donors probably groan at the thought of putting up their outdoor Christmas decorations and lights yet again, so offer your services for a fee! The winner gets a complete day off they would’ve otherwise spent wrangling lights on their roof. Elaborate Halloween displays might be a popular choice, as well.

Pro Tip!

A successful charity auction doesn’t just require an interesting mix of items. It also requires plenty of strategic marketing and promotion! Use our guide to nonprofit event marketing to learn all the essentials.

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Mid-range auction items will ensure everyone has an item to bid on.

Mid-Range Charity Auction Items

One common item procurement pitfall is acquiring too many items of just one price range. While one expensive showstopper is a great way to attract attention for your event, make sure the rest of your auction items aren’t all on the less valuable side. This structure can reduce engagement all around, as some bidders might not want to compete for the top prize but aren’t interested in the smaller standalone items or less valuable baskets.

Instead, make sure to offer a number of mid-range auction items. These will ensure everyone has a chance to compete for an impressive prize and it helps to maximize the revenue that your event ultimately generates! Here are a few ideas.

 

 

Annual memberships to other organizations can be effective silent auction item ideas.

Memberships

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Annual memberships to other organizations or institutions in your area can be an effective and easy way to offer mid-range auction items. Top-tier memberships to zoos, aquariums, museums, national parks, or symphonies can all be strong choices. Or, if your organization offers annual memberships with perks, offer a discounted rate to bidders.

Other organizations will likely be happy to partner with your own organization and arrange a membership deal. Think about your donors’ interests and which types of memberships would be most appealing for them and their families.

City Tours

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A personalized city tour is a unique experience that donors could start a bidding war! Reach out to local public figures in your community like the mayor, city council members, or other community leaders (or your own executive director!) and gauge their interest in offering a personal walking tour of the city.

Every city has its own rich history, so don’t be discouraged if an idea doesn’t immediately jump to mind. Think about what makes your community unique and how you can present it to donors. You could even bundle your walking tour with reservations at a local restaurant to make a well-rounded experience.

 

 

A city tour is a unique experience to offer your auction guests.

A high-end cooking class is an effective auction item idea.

Cooking Class

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A high-end, hands-on cooking class with a professional chef could be a great silent auction item for your next event. Contact culinary schools or notable local restaurants to discuss your event and explore your options. A full-day learning experience or a fun class and dinner event might be very appealing for the gourmets in your audience.

A luxurious spa day is a great mid-range auction item idea for your fundraising events.

Spa Day Package

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Curate a spa-themed package for your donors who need a bit of pampering. Depending on the total value you’re aiming for, you could create a basket-style arrangement of at-home beauty and relaxation products. On the higher end, you could offer a certificate for a complete experience at a day spa or rejuvenation retreat. Beauty products and experience span a wide range of prices, so they’re very adaptable to fit anywhere in your auction catalog.

Theme park tickets and packages make enticing auction items for families.

Theme Park Tickets

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This is another fairly easy mid-range auction item idea. Tickets and packages for theme parks can be notoriously costly, especially for families with multiple children. Offering your auction guests a pre-set package of theme park tickets lets them support your cause while also planning their next vacation or excursion. This idea can be easily adapted with add-ons based on the total value you’d like to reach.

A grill package with top-of-the-line equipment is an auction item that can generate revenue for your mission.

Grill Package

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For the grill enthusiasts participating in your live, silent, or online auction, gather an assortment of top-of-the-line outdoor grilling equipment. A high-end gas grill, propane, accessories, and a picnic table should complete this mid-range auction package. Consider your donors’ typical homes when planning this package. Supporters who live in urban apartments might not be interested, but it could be a smart move for more suburban audiences.

Pro Tip!

To truly maximize the revenue that your live, silent, or online auction generates, make sure to effectively price each item. If you’ve never hosted an auction before, this process requires a little research. Use our guide to pricing silent auction items to get started.

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Easy auction item ideas can lighten the load on your procurement team.

Easy Auction Item Ideas

Every auction needs several easy, relatively low-cost items to offer bidders. This ensures you have a complete range of offerings to entice every guest, and it makes procurement a little easier for your team.

These are a few of our favorite easy item ideas for live, silent, and online auctions. Use these as a starting point to brainstorm even more that will be perfect for your unique audience.

 

 

Merchandise like t-shirts make very easy auction item ideas.

Merchandise

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Branded merchandise is a win-win for practically any type of organization. Create t-shirts, mugs, and tote bags branded with your logo, then offer them in your next auction. A small package of branded products can make an easy auction basket idea, or you could offer individual items as buy-it-now options.

This idea works just as well for live events as it does online. With the rise of internet-based merchandise platforms, you can design and create your items and then have them shipped directly to buyers.

Sponsored Gift Cards

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Working with sponsors is an excellent way to strengthen your auction through the planning process to item procurement to hosting the event itself. Sponsors can provide donated auction items and services in exchange for recognition.

For sponsors that can’t commit to a large in-kind donation, consider asking for a gift card instead. These easy additions can be offered in a raffle or packaged in a Local Businesses Basket for your guests to bid on. Plus, gift cards are just as easy to offer in an online auction as they are in-person.

 

 

Gift cards from sponsors are easy items to offer at your auction.

Perks like a parking space are effective auction items for many organizations.

Easy Perks

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For this silent auction item idea, think of free perks that you can offer to winners. Great examples are the best parking space in your school’s parking lot or a personal tour of your facilities for the winning donor. For your most dedicated supporters, free perks like these can be highly motivating because they’re practical and typically inexpensive. Get creative to come up with the unique perks you can easily offer bidders.

Dog walking is a simple item that a volunteer can offer at your auction.

Pet Services

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Here’s another free auction item that can generate attention from bidders. Offer your own services as a dog-walker or pet-sitter! With the increasing popularity of dog walking apps, donors who regularly use them would appreciate the opportunity to support your cause while still getting their dog out for some exercise. Coordinate with a volunteer (who’s a dog lover, of course) and offer their services for a set amount of time or number of walks.

Name dedications are easy auction item ideas that even small nonprofits can incorporate.

Name Dedication

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For organizations with physical offices, buildings, or green space, a donor name dedication is a classic (and easy) way to generate revenue at an auction. A simple example might be displaying a donor’s name on a bench or naming a garden area after them. For large nonprofits, this is a common tactic to raise funds during a major expansion or capital campaign. Plaques and engraved bricks are typical examples, as well.

Give your winner a day in your shoes with this simple auction idea for nonprofits.

A Day in the Life

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Here’s an auction item that won’t cost a penny. Offer the chance for a lucky winner (or their child) to shadow you or a team member for a day to learn all about your work. Zookeepers, park administrators, school coaches, nonprofit directors, and more are all great candidates. For dedicated supporters, the opportunity to dive deeper into your mission will be a can’t-miss auction item.

Pro Tip!

Use charity auction software and mobile bidding tools that give you plenty of customization options. The ability to easily create new buy-it-now items can be a game-changer to help drive pre-bidding engagement and revenue before your auction even starts.

This collection of effective online, live, and silent auction item ideas should get your procurement team off to a strong start!

Refer to this list to use our ideas, or use them as a creative springboard to come up with more of your own. The most important tip to remember is that the auction items you offer should be as targeted to your audience’s preferences. Thinking about what your donors will really love to bid on drastically boost bids and engagement, giving you a more successful auction overall.

To learn more and keep honing your charity auction skills, explore a few more resources:

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