How to Organise a Charity Auction

Running a successful charity auction will raise significant funds for our great cause


Silent vs Live Auction

There are several ways you can run a charity auction, the two main methods are silent and live auctions. Silent charity auctions are a popular way to fundraise because they are easy to organise and require minimal overheads. In a silent auction, you publish a list of items ahead of time, accept sealed bids in writing and at the end of the time period, the highest bidder wins.

The alternative is a live auction. A live auction requires more organisation and can be quite expensive to run. Unlike a silent auction, live auctions are fast and loud, the auction takes place at a venue where people shout and hold up signs to place their bids. It is usually a good idea to find the services of a professional auctioneer, depending on the scale of the event.


Obtaining Items for the Charity Auction

The second biggest expense after paying for a venue (unless you can manage to find a venue willing to donate the space to the charity) is the items you plan to sell. There are a variety of different methods you can adopt in order to obtain items for a charity auction.

Second-hand Items – Speak with friends, family and work colleagues to see if they will contribute items they no longer use or need. The products should be in new and preferably sealed condition.

Corporate Donations - Contact local firms and ask them to donate products for the charity auction. In return, you can offer them free advertisement on the day of the auction and any other publicity material.

Purchase Items - Buy items at sale prices and sell them at a higher price. This is a risky strategy and could eat into your profits especially if any of your items sell below the purchase price. You would need to set a reserve price to ensure this doesn't happen.

How you obtain the items for the charity can be the difference between a good charity auction and a great charity auction. Don't be afraid to approach local businesses, sports teams and celebrities.

Having just one big ticket item or a celebrity donation will boost the publicity of your charity auction, meaning more money for your chosen cause.



Once you have organised the charity auction venue and sourced your items, it's time to get people to attend. There are a variety of ways you can market your event. Start off by sending press releases to the local media and post leaflets around the local community. It is also worth using online media such as social networking sites to create awareness. Remember the more people that know about the auction, the more likely it will be a success.  Don’t forget to get in touch with us in the office so we can help let our supporters in your area know about your event.


The Day of the Auction

It is important to remain calm and organised on the day. It is a good idea to hand out leaflets with item information and the auction procedure as guests enter the venue. Make sure you note down the winning bids as they are placed to avoid confusion when it comes to collecting payment.

Depending on the venue size, you can either allow the winners to take their items straight after the auction or arrange delivery or pick-up at a later date (this is better for larger items.)


Charity auctions can be a great way to raise lots of money. The most important thing is to remain organised and put in the effort to get items at knock-down prices!


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