Silent Auctions can be stressful to run, but they don't have to be. If you follow this advice, you'll get to enjoy your evening, and you'll raise more money too.
If you try to run your Silent Auction by closing the bidding early and then hectically organizing your bidsheets, tallying up the totals, organizing your donations by winner, collecting the payments and exchanging the items, you are bound to make mistakes. You miss out on the socializing that evening and are likely not want to be in charge ever again. In addition, the later the evening gets, the more likely people will bid higher. Since you closed the auction too early, you will miss out on those bids.
Why not keep the auction open till the end of the evening? Close the Silent Auction an hour after you have finished the Live Auction, Capital Campaign, or any other special events. You can even include the totals from these items in the same invoice as the silent auction items.
So, how is it done?
Line up a few volunteers to deliver the baskets, wine, and donations which are a difficult to mail. We allow for five deliveries per volunteer. Aim to have all items delivered the week following your auction. You will find people love doing this job; they deliver the rewards of the auction, and it is a great extra opportunity to thank your supporters.
At check in, collect credit card numbers and contact information as you assign each attendee their bid number.
At the end of the evening, collect the bid sheets and all donations that you have put out for the show.
The next day/week, enter the winning bids for the donations, parties and capital campaign in your favourite Silent Auction Managment software like Pearl Bids. Email the receipts, and keep a hardcopy for yourself. As the winners pay with paypal, you can mark the receipts as paid. If they haven't paid after two days, you can charge their credit cards.
For anyone who won only gift certificates, simply mail the certificates with a copy of the receipt. For larger winnings, attach the receipt (with delivery details) and any gift certificates to the items that your volunteers will be delivering. Make sure your volunteers call or email you when all their assigend deliveries are made.
By taking care of the administrative side of the silent auction the week after the event, you'll find that you'll reduce your stress, make less mistakes, and raise more money.