Charity Auctions - Top 10 Profit Centers


TOP TEN PROFIT CENTERS by April Brown Auctioneer

  1. Silent Auction
  2. Live Auction
  3. Paddle Raise
  4. Raffles
  5. Auction Games
  6. Sponsorships
  7. Advertising
  8. Ticket Sales
  9. Centerpiece Sales
  10. Matching Gifts

1          A Silent Auction is the ultimate power shopping experience. The process is simple and straightforward and requires little effort to play beyond the ability to see, move and write. This buying experience offers more chances for guests to play and win at the auction game.  The Silent Auction is undoubtedly one of the most labor intensive profit centers to manage, yet, the rewards can be great for donors and the non-profit organization

Sometimes a Silent Auction can have disappointing results and when balanced against the effort. If you are tempted to drop the Silent Auction, consider this. The problem is not the concept, but the way the concept is executed and the confusion associated with flawed procedures. I am going to show you how to apply retail marketing and merchandising standards and what procedures to use for managing the silent auction process.

Let’s envision a Silent Auction. There may be 100’s of items on display for guests to bid on. Raffle tickets are on sale. Drinks and food are passed. Live music is fueling the party atmosphere. Guest are balancing a beverage in one hand writing in bids with the other. They are moving from item to item, display to display, standing in line at the bar, visiting with friends, eating, drinking, buying raffle tickets and playing auction games. The mood is lively, loud, crowded and friendly.

2               Live Auction

Before the internet, a live auction meant you had to be present face-to-face, bidder to bidder in front of an auctioneer calling numbers and deciding the close of the sale. Today, a live auction can be held online, by phone or video without the bidders ever seeing each other or the auctioneer. A live charity auction is a sales process occurring in real time with real people bidding to win a real item. It is a face-to-face affair often referred to as a gala where donated items are sold to the highest bidder. Food, beverage, and sometimes entertainment are rolled out in support of a memorable fast paced party.

3               Paddle Raise

The paddle raise is a cash request made during the live by the auctioneer or featured speaker. It is the only time during the night that the audience is truly giving, rather than buying. A presentation is made and amounts are called out before the audience. Guests raise their bid paddle at the amount they choose to give. The amounts are called out by the auctioneer and recorded. The money raised in the Paddle Raised is often designated for a special project or need and may be referred to by that designation. “Fund-A-Need”. Fund-A-Scholarship. Fund-the-Gym. Fund-the-Wish. Fund-the-Dream. 

4               Raffles

A raffle is a game of chance where tickets or chances are sold or given away to win a prize. Raffles requiring a purchase are monitored by the gambling commission and in some states may require a license. Log on to the government jurisdiction for your area and down load the regulations for conducting an honest raffle.

Of the many profit centers that can be implemented at an auction raffles are the easiest. The 3 most common auction raffles: The Early Bird Raffle, You Must Be Present to Win raffle, and the Best of the Live Raffle. Prizes may be a tangible item, experience or the sharing of the proceeds from the actual ticket sales

5               Auction Games

An auction game is similar to a game show experience by creating an opportunity for guests to win a prize just for playing. The Auction Flip: a game of heads or tails with one winner. The Wine Ring Toss: throwing a ring over a cluster of preferred wines and winning a ringer. The Word Board: buy a letter from the name of the organization and win the prize associated with it. Games are designed to create more winners and fill the idle time between bidding during the silent auction.

6               Sponsorships

Money used to cover expenses is referred to as a sponsorship. Businesses typically sponsor events or segments of an event with the expectation that some form of visibility will be offered in exchange for this financial support. The visibility may be anything from a discreet mention to the blasting of the sponsors image on everything from the washroom to the ballroom walls. Major sponsors may want access to the non-profit organizations membership before, during and after the event. 

7               Advertising

Advertising is ad placement in the catalog, on the website, and in newsletters with the desire to attract business.

8               Ticket Sales

Tickets are sold with the intention of covering the majority of the costs associated with putting on the vent the night of the auction. Catering and venue fees, beverage and corking fees, production fees and vendor services fees.

9               Centerpiece Sales

Centerpieces are the arrangements and novelties set in the center of the dining table. Sometimes the centerpieces are auctioned off at each table to the highest bidder. Sometimes they are awarded to

10            Matching Gifts

A Matching Gifts or dollars is money given by business or individuals to encourage greater giving by others. The match simply means that a the money raised will be matched dollar for dollar by the donor. Matching dollars can be given during the live auction on specific items or match a specific profit center like the Paddle Raise. Matches can also be donated as a match of the overall event total. Matching Gifts can grow the auction proceeds to phenomenal numbers. An overall event match means that every match before that final match will be counted. You can see how a carefully thought out Matching Gifts campaign greatly increases the auction’s final total.