Charity Fundraising Items on a Budget

As COVID-19 restrictions and their economic fallout continue, you might find it harder and harder to secure donated auction items from your normally reliable sources. With a little extra inspiration, you can help bridge this gap by finding low cost or free auction items in ways you never thought of before. Here are some great ideas for charity auction prizes that will cost your foundation very little, some will even cost them nothing at all!

Below are some great places to start your search on the way to maximize your fundraising efforts in more limited times.

Free use of your venue

Does your organization have the use of a beautiful function room, building or outdoor space? If so, you could offer your donors the chance to host their next event in your space by putting the space up at your next charity fundraiser.

Libraries, lobbies or museum galleries would all make an excellent and unusual venue for parties, business functions or events. Offering this as a prize can be a very popular way to raise money for charity.

A Vacation Home

Perhaps someone you know or an avid supporter of your charity has a second home they would be willing to donate for a weekend stay? Look to provide locales which are within driving distance, many donors may still be wary of taking commercial flights during these uncertain times.

Private Dinner

Along similar lines, perhaps you know someone who would be willing to lend you their home for a few hours to provide a nice private venue where you and a few select guests can meet for dinner. Look to have someone from your community volunteer as a chef for the group and you’ve got yourself an even more impressive auction item.

Sky miles

Do you know someone who travels a lot and has collected masses of sky miles? Many people might be surprised to find out that these bonus miles are usually transferrable. Maybe a member of your community would be willing to offer some of their miles as a silent auction prize. Some sky miles expire if they don’t get used before a deadline, someone may be happy to offer up extra miles they won’t have a chance to use before expiration.

Combine this with a donated vacation home, and you could have a seriously attractive prize offering!

Private lessons

Imagine being taught how to cook by a Michelin star chef, or taking tips on photo composition from a professional photographer. Offering private lessons can open up a whole host of opportunities for charity auction prizes.

Perhaps you have someone linked to your organization with a unique skill who would be willing to donate their time for a lesson. Many people would love to bid a dedicated lesson from someone like this, especially if they don’t usually offer lessons.

A One-on-One Lunch

Time spent talking with your organization’s CEO, a celebrity or a leading public figure can be a very popular charity fundraising prize.

It’s rare to have the chance to spend time talking privately with an accomplished figure about shared interests or important issues. See if you can convince a suitable candidate to offer an hour or two of their time for a private lunch with the winning bidder.

A Day in the Life

Do you have contacts at the local radio station or theatre? Perhaps they might be happy to offer a ‘day in the life’ experience as a prize for your online charity auction.

This can give the winning bidder the opportunity to spend time with someone they admire, or let young people experience their chosen profession first-hand. You could approach a local celebrity, a popular local business or maybe even the town Mayor.

Your cause can inspire your prize, for instance you could offer a day with the Coach for a sports fundraiser. Or maybe you can organize a day at the fire station for a charity auction in support of firefighters.

Let your imagination run wild and see what ideas you can come up with.


Unique artwork can make a fantastic charity auction prize, especially if you can find local artists or art students who are willing to donate some of their work. A beautiful picture or sculpture can inspire your donors to dig deep and raise money for charity.

But do use discretion when choosing which artists to approach. Many artists may be struggling with uncertain times ahead as well. Consider offering to pay the artist a percentage of the winning donation in lieu of their usual commission.

Sports or Arts Memorabilia

If you’re raising money for a sports or arts cause, historical memorabilia would make an attractive prize. And if some of these items feature local or national celebrities, your donors could be inspired to bid very generously!

Take a look through your organization’s archives to see what you can find. You could also reach out to people in your community who may have suitable items at home.

Don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to the suggestions here. There are plenty of other ways you can create online charity auction prizes for little or no cost - the possibilities are endless!

Paybee’s online auction platform makes organizing your charity auction and collecting donations simple, regardless of the auction platform you choose. We can help you with everything from selling tickets to collecting and verifying the funds you raise. Signup for a mock virtual event at one of our Paybee demos today to receive an introduction to our platform.

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