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Best Selling Auction Items: Top Auction Item Ideas to Sell at Your Fundraising Auctions

Best Selling Auction Items: Top Auction Item Ideas to Sell at Your Fundraising Auctions

When you’re getting ready to host an auction, there’s really no limit to the type of auction items you can offer. From memorabilia to gift baskets to exotic experiences, you can offer a wide variety of products that attract generous bids. You can even make use of consignment auction companies that put together attractive travel packages that you only need to pay for if the item sells.

Still, you want to make sure your auction items line up with the needs and interests of your audience if you want to collect a lot of bids. While there’s no single perfect list of auction item ideas, we’ve put together a list of products and services that have regularly generated some very generous bids. Match some of these products with your bidders’ desires, make sure to promote them in your marketing campaigns, and you’ll likely see a rise in the revenue you can generate.   

Auction Item Ideas for Your Next Live Auction

A live auction can be held at traditional in-person galas, virtual events, or even hybrid fundraisers. While many of the products and services listed below can be offered at both a live and silent auction, showcasing some of these rarer products in front of an audience in real time can really spark some aggressive bids. With that in mind, here are some of the top auction items to put on your list:

Event Tickets

Who couldn’t use some sports tickets to premium seats or boxes at the next Super Bowl, World Series, or NBA Finals? Even if you can’t procure passes to some of these major sporting events, season passes for a popular local team can still attract a lot of good bids. Be sure to focus your efforts on a sport most of your audience are passionate about. Knowing how many football, basketball, baseball, or hockey fans you have in your audience can make a huge difference in the amount of revenue this item generates.

But let’s say your audience isn’t big into sports. No problem. Concert, theater, and even ComicCon event tickets can fetch great prices from the right fans. Be sure to highlight any special perks — like front row seats, all-access passes, and included event merch are all big benefits that should be promoted by your auctioneer and listed on your marketing materials.

Signed Memorabilia Items

Signed items from celebrities, athletes, or public figures are one-of-a-kind items that are always in demand. Both serious collectors and casual sports fans would love to own a jersey, helmet, baseball, or photo signed by their favorite sports player. Just be sure to include a valid certificate of authenticity with the item to enhance your event’s credibility and increase donor confidence.

Once again, signed memorabilia doesn’t have to be sports-related. Comic books signed by well-known artists, limited prints with a painter’s signature, or movie posters signed by the cast and crew are just as prized by fans. If you choose to offer these products at your next memorabilia auctions, be sure to let your in-person bidders see the actual item on display. Your online audience can view photos on your website to see what they’ll be getting.

Collectibles

These overlap a little with autographed memorabilia, although in this case the merchandise doesn’t have to be signed, just highly desired by a group of fans. Collectibles can include anything from vintage comic books to sports memorabilia to even stamps and coins.

You can acquire collectibles from a variety of sources, including estate auctions, collectibles auctions, and eBay, as well as donations from your donors. There’s a demand for practically any rare item, so be sure to keep an eye on mass auctions listings and auctions estate sales to see what type of collectibles are available. You just might connect someone to a future prized possession (and make a tidy profit for your organization in the process!).

Auction Gift Baskets

Everyone loves a gift basket, especially when it’s themed around a guest’s interests. While top selling gift baskets often include exotic items like tropical getaways, VIP experiences, and state-of-the-art gadgets (all of which are included on this list), you can build an auction gift basket out of anything, make it fit your budget, and still make it a top seller at your event.

Some popular gift baskets include:

  • Corporate sponsor packages: Include company swag, free or discounted services, and a lunch or dinner with the president of CEO
  • Private dinner package: The package could include all the ingredients for a gourmet meal along with the services of a professional chef. Great for foodies!
  • Staycation package: More affordable than a trip to a different state or country, staycation gift baskets can still include a stay at a fancy local hotel, dinner at a popular restaurant, and a show. You can even throw a gift certificate to a ride-share service in your baskets to cover transportation costs! This makes a great gift for travelers on a budget.

VIP Experiences

What’s better than an event ticket? How about a ticket that gives your winner VIP perks like exclusive access to concerts, backstage passes, and meet-and-greets with music performers? These days, practically every event offers some type of VIP experience, from concerts to sports events to comic book conventions. Plus, many of these event companies may be willing to donate special passes to your organization in return for some free advertising.

This works both ways as the winners will associate the special experience they had at a concert, convention, or game with the good feelings they got from supporting your organization. It’s a great way to build up a brand image as a nonprofit that offers amazing experiences for a good cause.

Celebrity Encounters

Don’t have access to event passes or VIP experiences? No problem. Sometimes people prefer to cut out the pomp and circumstance of a big event in favor of a more intimate one-on-one encounter with a celebrity.

This can be done in a variety of ways. If you or someone on your event staff can contact local celebrities, you could get them to appear at your fundraiser and provide a “date” (or lunch) with the famous personality in exchange for a winning donation. This can work particularly well at in-person auctions since people can see and directly interact with the celebrity guest, increasing the desire for a longer encounter.

Keep in mind that “celebrities” can include a variety of personalities from multiple industries. Famous singers, sports figures, and film stars are great — but some donors are more interested in getting to spend time with a TV anchorman, CEO, local politician, or online celebrity. You can even offer a video chat with a celebrity or even a Cameo video, which can connect you with more well-known figures. 

Golf Outings

Okay, okay, maybe this one’s a bit of a cliché, but let’s be honest — offer a few rounds of golf at a prestigious course along with private lessons and access to an exclusive club, and you’re going to get a good donation. There’s just something about charity auctions that tends to bring in golf enthusiasts, so if you know there’ll be a lot of “patrons” at your next fundraiser, be sure to include golf outings as potential prizes.

To make this extra special for your in-person audience, contact a golf pro and invite them to hang out with the audience, introduce the outing, and list all the perks. Knowing who they’ll get to spend their day with can really bring in the bidders.  

Fashion Experiences

Any shopping and/or fashion enthusiasts on your guest list? Fashion experiences include everything from personal shopping sprees to styling sessions with top fashion designers or industry experts. Few people would say no to a professional makeover or day of shopping, and you can usually get a nice donation for this experience.

Gadgets

We’re all hooked on our smartphones these days — heck, odds are most of your guests are placing their bids for your charity auctions online via their phones using a mobile app like the PayBee App. So why not make it easier for them to upgrade by placing a few highly desirable gadgets in your auction? These can include the latest smart phones, tablets, flat screen TVs, or gaming consoles for the video game enthusiasts in your audience.

You can even make this more enticing for your audience by building an entire gift basket full of gadgets. It’ll be like getting all0 the best stuff at a Black Friday sale without having to endure all the crowds.

Choosing Hot Auction Products to Sell at Your Silent Auction

A silent auction can offer some huge closing bids for your charity, mostly because your bidders can spend several days placing bids on a desired auction item. It’s even easier these days with features like PayBee’s AutoMax Bid, which automates the bidding process for a guest up to a desired point, or the Buy-It-Now option, which just lets a guest purchase an auction item from a price you’ve previously determined and mark it sold.

Of course, in order to fetch good silent bids from donors, you need to make sure your auction items are what people want to compete over, so we’re listing popular high-ticket products and services that traditionally attract a lot of attention. While you do want to keep your audience’s budgets and interests in mind, these products and services typically get a lot of good bids.

Unique Adventures

More affordable than most vacation packages, but just as eye-catching, unique adventures include any once-in-a-lifetime experience like a hot air balloon ride, skydiving lessons, or a scuba diving adventure. Learn what type of local activities attract the most thrill seekers, and then offer a chance to have this adventure at your next silent auction.

Naturally with a silent auction item like this, you want to promote its one-of-a-kind nature to the max, so be sure to include plenty of photos and videos showing people exactly what they can bid on. Post these visuals on your social media posts advertising your auction and make sure visitors to your silent auction website can scroll through multiple images of land and undersea adventures to tease them about the fun they’ll have on this excursion.

Exclusive Tours

If you haven’t figured it out by now, “exclusivity” and “top silent auction items'' tend to go hand-in-hand. That’s the case with exclusive tours, which might include behind-the-scenes access to popular attractions like museums, movie studios, or historical landmarks. There’s always a fun story behind the buildings and businesses we see everyday, and for history buffs and culture fans, getting the inside story via an exclusive tour is a can’t miss opportunity.

Fitness Packages

Keeping fit and healthy is an important goal for many people, so let them reach this goal in style with a membership to a high-end gym, complete with included personal training sessions. Other participants in your silent auction might respond better to an all-expense paid trip to a wellness retreat where they can relieve their mental and emotional stress as they take care of their physical needs.

Spa Retreats

Closely related to fitness packages (in fact, you could probably combine them to form a very attractive gift basket!), spa retreats are something practically everyone dreams of at one point or another. Whether you’re an overworked teacher, stressed out parent, or tired office worker, the idea of being pampered and enjoying a refreshing massage, steam room, and/or skin care routine probably feels like nirvana. And if they can get this experience by supporting your mission? All the better! 

Travel Packages

Ah, travel packages! Who wouldn’t enjoy hopping on a plane and getting away from it all? Or taking a cruise and crossing an item off your bucket list? Offering a trip to Europe or a Caribbean cruise is a sure-fire way of generating interest in your auction, especially if you showcase these vacation getaways in your social media marketing campaign and email newsletters well before your fundraiser. And by working with a consignment auction company, you can offer some very nice travel packages that include flights, accommodations, and unique experiences for the winning bidder(s).

If some of these high-end travel packages seem out of your audience’s budget, there are other options. Scenic train rides offer an excellent way to see the country’s more beautiful sights from the ground for a lower price than other vacation packages. Likewise, you could put together a staycation package that allows your guests to enjoy the best of their local attractions. 

Wine Tastings

People who enjoy the finer things in life will appreciate private wine tastings at prestigious wineries. You can also pair this activity with a vineyard tour and gourmet meals. Wine tastings tend to work well if you can get a sponsorship from a local vineyard or winery and if many of your fundraiser guests are wine enthusiasts. You might also consider auctioning off rare bottles of wine (donated by your sponsors) or even hosting a separate wine pull activity at your fundraiser.

Home Makeover

Do any of your donors love TV shows like “Property Brothers” or “Fixer Upper”? Are a lot of people in your charity looking to redesign their homes to increase their resale value? Then a home makeover package could be exactly what many of them would love to bid on. You could offer interior design consultations as well as home renovation services from the best professional designers and contractors.

Theater Packages

A night at the theater has become much more popular now that social distancing restrictions have been lifted and stage buffs who spent all of 2020 in lockdown can enjoy their favorite live shows. So, what better way to cater to their needs than by offering Broadway or West End shows, complete with backstage tours and/or cast meet-and-greets? After years of being deprived of their favorite plays, everyone would like a chance to bid on the best seat in the house. 

Professional Services

Many of your donors and supporters are likely business professionals who could use the services from legal, financial, or marketing experts. Offering a business consultation is an excellent way to not only encourage bids but also build partnerships with local experts who will gladly donate some of their time in order to expand their network and client list.

Cooking Classes

Earlier, we showed that a private dinner package is a great item to offer the foodies in your network. But what about the cooking enthusiasts?

Partnering with a local restaurant and getting a gourmet chef to offer a cooking class is a great experience to offer. The chef could teach students how to cook a popular item on the menu, giving your winners exclusive cooking tips. You might also partner with a local cooking school that could donate free lessons or even connect with a world-renowned chef who could teach lessons via online classes.  

BONUS: Popular Offbeat Auction Item Ideas

So far, we’ve covered the traditional list of popular auction items to offer at your next fundraiser. But what about the not-so-traditional? Sometimes, bidder tastes may lean toward the unconventional. Some might be more interested in bidding on experiences that are more unique than prestigious. Offering a few offbeat products and services can spur some healthy bids by people who want to experience the novelty of what you’ve listed.

If you’re up for adding a few unusual auction items to your list, here are our top ideas for strange (but fun) products and services.

Funny Auction Items

Sometimes it’s not how upscale an auction item is that gets it a lot of bids, but how strange the experience, service, or product looks. Sure, a vacation package might be cool — but even that doesn’t guarantee the best story like a psychic experience or a day of beauty for your dog. With this in mind, here are some of the funnier auction items that can attract a second look — and a third — and a fourth.

Pet Experiences

Luxury products don’t have to be limited to human things. Offering luxury pet products like custom pet beds or services like pet grooming or professional pet photography can draw in a lot of bids from pet lovers. You might even offer a stay at a luxury pet hotel (which could be great for someone already placing bids on a week-long cruise or extended vacation). 

Goofy Fiverr Services

Fiverr is a website where people can offer a variety of online services starting at five dollars. While many of these services involve things like writing, editing, or graphic design, other Fiverr entrepreneurs offer more… eclectic services. You could pay to have a psychic reading, a video of a puppet singing “Happy Birthday” to a friend, a custom-made message made of sea shells on the beach, or any number of other weird and bizarre favors.

If some of these oddball offerings appeal to your audience, it could be nice to offer them at your next fundraiser. Just be aware that while services on Fiverr start at five dollars, they can rise into the hundreds for more complex offerings. This should be considered when you’re working out your opening bid.

Henna Tattoos

Henna tattoos are a popular way of getting intricate patterns painted onto your skin without making the lifelong commitment of a more permanent tattoo. Some henna tattoo artists can create some truly complex and memorable images, and people into body art would probably be interested in winning an appointment with these artists to (temporarily) enjoy an offbeat tattoo.  

Homemade Products for Auctions

Not all top selling auction items need to be expensive products and services. Sometimes, your best sellers are offered by the talented people in your own support network, who would be more than happy to donate homemade products and services to your fundraiser. Which items sell best? Here are some of our favorite picks:

Artwork

Original paintings, sculptures, or limited-edition prints are always nice to offer in an option, particularly if they come from established or emerging local artists. One nice way to promote these items is to share the story behind the creation of each work. For instance, some art therapy-based nonprofits allow children with trauma backgrounds to collaborate with established painters and designers on art projects. Knowing that such artwork was created through such a therapeutic exercise can make them more desirable.

Home Cooked Meals

Gourmet dinners and fancy cooking classes are popular services and experiences, but sometimes the prospect of having some home cooked meals is enough to generate good bids. If you have any cooking enthusiasts in your support network, having them offer to cook some lunches and dinners — or even cater an entire party — could be a popular service to offer.

Custom-made jewelry and clothes

Brand name jewelry and designer clothes might draw in bidders, but most people are equally intrigued by the prospect of having something custom-made for them. This could be a handcrafted ring or bracelet created by a local designer. This could also be a suit or jacket crafted by a tailor or even a custom-made costume for an upcoming party or comic convention. Your community is likely filled with talented designers and craftsmen ready to make some truly one-of-a-kind creations, so it's definitely worth it to include them in your network and build partnerships.

Moving Forward

A best selling auction includes items that run the gamut from exotic experiences to quirky one-of-a-kind products and services. By building connections with business sponsors, talented community members, and consignment auction companies, you’ll soon develop a network that can supply you with any number of the best items for your next fundraising auction.

Once you decide what your guests are most into, however, you’ll still need to promote and list your offerings in an eye-catching way. PayBee’s online fundraising platform can help. Our software lets you bulk upload all your item listings at once and illustrate them with attractive photos and enticing descriptions. Our social sharing buttons also allow you to promote your fundraising auction on multiple social media channels. And when it comes to managing your charity auction, our online tools are perfect for an in-person, virtual, and hybrid live and silent auction.

To make sure our software offers the right tools for your nonprofit organization, sign up for a free demo of the PayBee system. We’ll let you use our intuitive platform to engage in a mock auction that shows you how much you can sell with our software. Later, you’ll get to ask any technical questions about your fundraisers to our team of experts. PayBee has helped hundreds of nonprofits and charities with their fundraising auctions, so sign up for a free demo and see how we can assist you today!  

 

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Michael Jung

Michael-Jung

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