This is a guest post from OneCause.
One of the biggest parts of planning a charity auction is the auction items themselves! This might seem extremely obvious, but you’d be surprised how easy it can be to overlook procuring a strong range of items when you’re busy handling all the other aspects of the event.
Remember, without offering up appealing items for auction, you likely won’t be able to raise nearly as much as you could otherwise. You have to put some serious thought into item procurement!
As the center of your event, your charity auction items should be creative, adventurous, and appeal to a wide range of audiences. Think about your demographic: who comes to your auction? What do they historically bid on or buy? These are the items and experiences you want to add to your procurement list.
These ideas will not only appeal to your guests, but encourage friendly bidding wars among your participants and drive up your revenue for your charity auction. Planning great fundraising events, including auctions, is essential to raising money for your cause. Whether you choose a silent auction or a live event, or decide to host one purely online, its success ultimately comes down to the items you procure.
Here are 11 of the best charity auction items that we’ve seen:
- Travel packages
- Event tickets
- Spa day
- Backstage passes
- Hot air balloon ride
- Music/art/sports lessons
- Fine dining experience
- Museum membership
- Sign-up parties
Procuring the right charity auction items will help you raise money for your cause, which is your ultimate goal, isn’t it? Let’s take a closer look at the best and highest-performing ideas we’ve seen and how they can impact your auction event!
1. Travel packages
Travel packages are undoubtedly a very popular charity auction item. These can range from family-friendly vacations to couples’ retreats. Travel packages make excellent main attractions for charity auctions and can generate a lot of interest.
To maximize the impact of your travel package, promote it as much as you can. This means taking to social media, sending emails, and more. If you properly perform prospect research, you’ll be able to effectively choose and invite certain donors who can offer higher bids (learn more about prospect research with this ultimate guide). From there, you’ll be ready to raise money with this big ticket item!
2. Event tickets
Event tickets are a surefire way to raise money for your cause, and can cover a wide range of events, such as:
- Sporting events
- Plays and musicals
- Music festivals
If you want to do more to motivate your fundraisers and bidders, communicate regularly with your auction participants and make sure they know this prize is available. Be on the lookout for local events coming up that will be popular among your bidders and secure tickets early, before they sell out! This will make the appeal even greater when you include tickets to unique or sold-out events.
Everyone is always vying after the newest gadget, so why not use this to your advantage and auction off the newest tablet, electronic gadget, or a flat-screen TV? Smartwatches and personal fitness trackers are also great gadgets to consider. Be sure to stay on top of trends during your procurement process to gauge what’s popular both generally and with your target demographics, and then get your auction participants excited to bid!
You should also use the right charity auction software that will help you encourage competition for these gadgets. If you’re looking for the right software to run your event, check out this helpful guide from OneCause.
4. Spa day
Great for silent auctions, a spa day package is the perfect charity auction item for those who need some relaxing time to themselves. You can choose between a couple of options with this item:
- Offer an all-expenses-paid package at a local spa.
- Offer an at-home package with bath products, face masks, candles, and more, which the winner can use to pamper themselves.
This will perform well as a silent auction item because it’s flexible. A spa day-themed item can easily stand on its own or be packaged into a larger collection of luxury items as needed.
5. Backstage passes
Go a step beyond event tickets and offer backstage passes to the winning bidder! Adding a behind-the-scenes element to an event experience, like a show or concert, enhances the value of the auction item. You’ll feel the excitement build as participants bid for the chance to see their favorite performers up close — and maybe even meet them!
Partner with a consignment package provider to make sure the cost stays within your event’s budget. With consignment providers, your organization pays a set price if the item sells. Anything above that, you get to keep.
6. Hot air balloon ride
If you want to run a successful fundraising campaign through your auction, offer an exciting once-in-a-lifetime experience like a hot air balloon ride! You can even bundle this with a vacation package. Because these rides can be expensive, reach out to local venues and ask if they’ll donate a ride to your cause.
This is a unique auction item that is sure to draw in adventure-seekers, and maybe even those who want to overcome their fear of heights for an impressive view!
7. Music/art/sports lessons
Offer up lessons as an enticing charity auction item! They can include anything from golfing to singing to swimming. Great for any age range, participants will be able to bid on lessons that they’ve been wanting to take but haven’t had the time or opportunity to pursue.
Reach out to local instructors and see if anyone would be willing to donate an hour-long lesson in support of your cause. This auction item can also be packaged with related items, and it can be easily adapted to any audience or demographic of supporters.
Another perfect silent auction idea that can stand on its own is the classic staycation. Maybe your bidders don’t have time to take a long trip, but they could definitely manage a relaxing few days at home. You can offer a variety of weekend plans that won’t require traveling, such as:
- A fancy local hotel stay
- A meal at an upscale restaurant
- Tickets to a local event
- Luxury bath products
- Snacks and drinks
- Movies or books
There are many angles you can take when it comes to a staycation package, and being creative will make it appeal more to your participants. You could even segment your attendee list and arrange a few different packages based on what each grouping would be interested in. Try out these items for yourself!
9. Fine dining experience
Let your auction winner enjoy a great meal for two at a popular fine dining restaurant, maybe even with tableside preparation by the chef. Fine dining experiences are reliable auction items for nonprofits because restaurants are usually willing to donate meals to good causes. This generates publicity for them and cultivates strong relationships within the greater community.
This can work great as a live auction event. While this may not be the biggest-ticket item that gets people to come, it will definitely help you bring in extra revenue!
10. Museum membership
For those who are interested in getting a taste of culture, offering a museum membership is a great auction idea that can stand on its own and provide long-term value. Reach out to local museums and ask if they would be willing to donate an annual membership.
Museums are typically nonprofits as well, so they would probably be willing to donate a membership and even create a partnership. Try bundling a museum membership into a larger package or let it stand on its own. Either way, this item is a reliable choice for all types of auction events.
11. Sign-up parties
Getting started with auctions can be a challenge, and sometimes you need to rely on the generosity of local donors, businesses, and professionals.
Sign-up parties are essentially pre-planned, themed parties and experiences that guests can pay to join. Each party has its own sign-up, a price per person, and a set number of spots. Include options like a wine party, golf outing, or chef tasting, which can be sponsored by local businesses or supporters. Guests at your auction can purchase a spot on a first-come, first-served basis, whether this is an online standalone event or an event held before the live auction to engage donors before the doors open.
Some of the best charity auction items are a direct result of creativity and reaching out to the right providers and donors. But it’s also about doing your research and determining what items will appeal to certain participants. Think about your audience and who you want to target, and this will help bring in the revenue you need to benefit your cause.
We’ve compiled even more of our favorites into a more comprehensive guide to top-performing auction items. If you’re looking for more great ideas, check out this list from OneCause.
Now that you have some ideas of awesome charity auction items, start bringing your procurement team together and get your auction event off the ground!