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Auction Ideas

Over the years we've seen a range of creativity when it comes to successful auction ideas. Below is a list of tried-and-true favorites as well as a few high-end packages for the live auction, where there is a higher chance of competition. If you'd like a detailed list of popular and creative silent auction ideas, live auction ideas or specifically school auction ideas, just follow the links. By having both a silent and live auction, you have a better chance of reaching your fundraising goals by allowing your patrons to show support at a range of levels. 

Entertaining auction themes are a fantistic way to put people in the party mood and promote the giving spirit. If you throw a memorable party, your supporters are more likely to attend next year's event and invite their friends. Who would want to miss out on the fun?  

We hope these ideas are a source of inspiration for your own charity auction. Feel free to share this page with your auction committee and anyone else working on procurement. Enjoy!



Whether it is a Mexican dinner with margaritas for eight hosted in the winning bidders home or a winemaker dinner hosted by a top local chef with rare wines blended by a popular vintner, dinner parties are popular auction item. Everyone needs to eat and sometime or another will likely host a party for friends, whether for a birthday, anniversary, or thank you for being fabulous. What better way to treat those dear friends and family members than a unique dinner party experience? Some people may even coordinate with their friends at the auction for some team bidding and share the costs! 



Beyond dinner parties, there are a host of other ways to celebrate. A winetasting party, dance party with live music or DJ, poker night, Monday night football party, Oscar party, cocktail party with local celebrities, spa party, parents night out with babysitter, the list goes on. The party can be sold as a single item or else have a fixed price where each bidder can purchase a spot or two until this exclusive event fills up.



Everyone loves an excuse to get out of town. Winning a trip at that auction is the perfect excuse, the winner gets to enjoy a lovely vacation while supporting their chosen cause. International trips are most appealing when linked with airfare. Local trips accessible by car also can do well, especially when the accomodations include enough rooms for families.



Tickets to games, concerts, and shows can do well, but obviously the more rare the better. A front row seat, backstage pass, access to a VIP room all add to desirability.


Theme baskets

Ideas for theme baskets are almost endless. These can include snacks and edibles, wine, drink mixes, movies, tickets, toys, household items, blankets, clothes, electronics, and/or gadgets all fitting a particular theme. See a list of theme basket ideas here.



Art tends to do best at auctions for organizations focused on supporting the arts. Second to that, classroom art projects can inspire exciting bidding battles between dedicated parents. Otherwise, the best artwork seems to be that with a functional application as well - more along the lines of craft pieces. For example, a wooden box, quilt, painted frame, rocking chair, a neon sign with a fun or unique design representing the theme of the auction, or maybe a sculpture. 



The more unique the better - sailing trips, private jet rides, flying lessons, the chance to see a live TV show filming, be an extra in a movie, meet with a local celebrity in their home, picnic with a favourite teacher, see 4th of July fireworks from a comfy spot, or tour a cult winery. 


Wall of Wine

Board members or supporters can donate bottles of wine. At least one magnum (1.5L) bottle should be included. Divide the bottles - red on one side and white on the other. Each can be wrapped in colored paper, one color for red and one for white. Then a tag with a number will be placed around the neck. Tickets with corresponding numbers can be kept in a bowl, bag, or even hat. During the silent auction, guests will pay a fixed price to play ($20 - $30), then select the number from the bowl. If they have a strong preference for red or white, they can draw again to get a number from that side. Make sure they select before unwrapping the wine. One lucky guest will win the magnum. Depending on the rules of the venue, they may be able to share with other guests at their table during the auction.


Balloon Raffle

A table can be set up with raffle items, each labeled number corresponding to a number on a rolled up piece of paper inside a balloon filled with helium. The raffle items should be equal or greater value compared to the cost of the ticket so that there are some enticing items for people to win. Examples might be a Bluetooth headset, iPod, gift certificates, sports memorabilia, wine, etc. For each raffle opportunity purchased, the guest receives a balloon. After all the balloons are sold, the raffle participants can be allowed to pop their balloons and find out their prizes. Sometimes this will be at towards the end of the night, after the live auction, to add a little extra suspense. In that case, the balloons can be secured to people's dining chairs and add a little color to the room - just as long as they are high enough not to get in the way of bid spotting.



Centerpieces add greatly to the auction theme and can add another way for auction attendees to support the organization. If the centerpieces are particularly unique, then anyone from any table should be able to bid on a centerpiece. If they are relatively the same, it may be easiest for them to be purchased at a fixed price.


Dessert Dash

If you are having dinner with your fundraising auction, a dessert dash is a great way to add excitement. Desserts can be donated by members of the community or purchased from popular local bakeries if necessary. Guests will get to pool their bids together for the chance to dash for the dessert of their dreams.

For more information on how to conduct a dessert dash, follow our handy guide.


Need more ideas?

Click to view fun party Auction Themes

Click to view over 30 Silent Auction Ideas

Click to view 35 Live Auction Ideas

Click to view 12 School Auction Ideas

Or contact us to discuss in detail.


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