“Less is More” – A Guide to Silent Auction Success!

To help your patrons out, make sure the bid sheets are easily accessible!

To help your patrons out, make sure the bid sheets are easily accessible!

“Less is more”, is a phrase from the 1855 poem “Andrea del Sarto, called ‘The Faultless Painter'” by Robert Browning and adopted by the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe as a precept for minimalist design. “Minimalist” is the word of the day. Digest it, and let it ring in your ears as you contemplate your Silent Auction Design.

A trend we have noticed as of late is the success groups are having when they reduce the number of their silent auction lots. Indeed, “Less is More.” Everybody reading this blog has undoubtedly heard me preach countless times to reduce reduce reduce that silent auction. It’s a big concept to grasp and requires a leap of faith. The best thing I can do is provide real life accounts with two events that did it! (And did it well)…
The 2013 Heart Ball with 850 patrons in attendance has historically provided 200+ items in their silent auction. With mostly couples attending, that means 425 households or “checkbooks” bidding. Knowing there are some coming solo, we can round that number to 500. Quick quiz…who remembers that silent auction formula? (Insert Jeopardy music). Ok, yes! You’re right! 20%! That means 100 items, which is what they had. The result…they had their most successful silent auction in 26 years of doing this event. Can you imagine the time they saved procuring 100 fewer items? Less work, more money, big smiles! The trifecta for auction and event success!

The 2013 Service Guild Gala followed the same formula, and perhaps even more so. There were approximately 500 patrons and a 45 item silent auction. Do we dare guess at their results? Of course we do, for we are a daring lot of type “A” personalities! Their silent auction produced nearly twice what it did the previous year with fewer than HALF the number of items! The items, because of the reduced number, were all top quality and all received very competitive bidding with some items (in a silent auction mind you) going in excess of $600.

Methinks there is something to this “Less is More” philosophy! How would YOU like to work half as hard and produce twice as much? I’m thinking this falls into the “no brainer” category, which is good, because I qualify for this at times! (Please no response from the peanut gallery!)

This silent auction philosophy doesn’t just help your silent auction bottom line either! In my next blog we’ll talk about pledging and how the less is more silent auction helps your pledging. “Clark, it’s the gift that keeps on giving the whole year”…but, this is way better than the jelly of the month club! Happy Bidding!


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