Building And Organizing a Silent Auction Wishlist

When you are setting up a silent auction, there are a couple of things to keep in mind that will help you build an excellent list. For example, organizing an auction list by the interests of people attending your event might help you have a successful auction.

Many silent auction planning committees start the item procurement process anywhere from 7 to 12 months out from the actual auction event. A procurement wishlist meeting will help your planning committee gain the best possible items for your organization to guarantee the success of your auction. In addition to a series of wishlist ideas, we have also come up with some tips to help you organize your wishlist better.

Assembling an auction item wishlist is probably one of the most difficult aspects of planning a silent auction, but will help you get started in procuring all the items that you want.

Organize Your wishlist Into Categories

You might have some demographic information about your event’s audience. However, you won’t likely have everyone’s interests and hobbies. If you vary the items available at your silent auction or virtual event, you likely will have more bidding activity and higher bid levels. When organizing your list, we recommend coming up with these different categories:

  • Culinary: These items are often one-time experiences where people can enjoy wine tasting or an extravagant dinner.

  • For the Home: These items are items that can be used around the home for enjoyment.

  • Sports: These are items like sports tickets or memorabilia.

  • Entertainment: These items can be concerts and other live events.

  • Fashion & Accessories: These items can include everything from jewelry to purses.

  • Kids Corner: These items can include dolls, toys, video games, and other items that kids and teenagers might enjoy.

  • Experiences/Airfare: These items include vacations and staycations, ideally the opportunity for people to get away.

You can download our complete list of auction item wishlist ideas at the end of this article so that you can start building the wishlist for your auction.

Itemize Your Wishlist By Ticket Size

Feature as many items as possible to appeal to your entire audience. This can include a list of small-, medium-, and large-ticket items. If you only have small-ticket items, you are lowering the amount of money that could possibly be raised for your charity of choice. If you have only large-ticket items, you could potentially exclude some of your attendees who are willing to bid on an item.

On your wishlist, you should include the fair market value, followed by bidding levels you’d like to set, as well as a buy-it-now price.

Start Narrowing Down the Wishlist To Items Based Upon Your Audience Interests

Once you have a rough draft of a wishlist, it’s time to start narrowing down your items to “must-haves.” You and your auction planning committee should narrow down your wishlist based upon the items that best match your audience’s demographics. Here are a few tips to help you narrow down your wishlist items:

  • Don’t eliminate items based upon the difficulty of procurement. Only eliminate items that don’t match your audience’s interests.

  • Don’t delete an item from your list entirely. Any items that you remove from your wishlist can be put on a wishlist for a future auction.

  • Once you have a wishlist put together, you can start procuring your items. Assign the items to your procurement team based upon their interests.

You can organize your auction wishlist by the item category and your audience interests. This will help you start formulating ideas for displaying your items at auction.

How To Display Your Items At Your Auction

Your auction item wishlist will also easily translate into how you display your items at your auction. Once you have a finalized auction item wishlist, here are some tips to help you organize your display of items:

  • Organizing your auction displays by theme can sometimes help people find the items that they’d like to bid on.

  • A physical item, like a cooler, might go nicely with an experiential item, like a lake house or a summer activity.

  • If you have an in-person event, make sure that you display large-ticket and small-ticket items uniformly at every display table.

Some Tips for Procuring Items On Your Auction Wishlist

When you are starting to brainstorm ideas for an auction wishlist, you want to think about how you are going to procure these items. First and foremost, here are some people who you might want to have on your procurement committee. You want to find people who are:

  • Willing to ask for something: Your committee members must feel confident in procuring items.

  • Established and connected: The more people your committee members know, the more likely you are to get all the items on your wishlist.

  • Organized: Make sure that your committee members are able to keep track of solicitations, items solicited and responses.

Another tip for securing items on your wishlist is to put together a powerful donation letter. A good donation letter should include the following:

  • An introduction to your organization

  • An explanation of your organization’s cause

  • Let the potential donor know about their benefit if they make a donation

  • Specifically ask the potential donor for their help and thank them in advance for their consideration.

When you find an entity that is willing to make a donation to your auction, make sure that you do all the heavy lifting for them. Making item donation easy for your donors will likely make them donate again in the future.

Download Our Free Auction Item Wishlist

Lastly, download our free auction item wishlist. This auction item wishlist has virtually every possible category and item covered. Not only does it include “experiential” auction items, like dinners and vacations, there are also some items that you will find useful for around the home.

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