Silent Auction Ideas | Fresh & Creative Ideas for Silent Auctions

Silent Auction Ideas | Fresh & Creative Ideas for Silent Auctions

Silent auctions are an effective fundraising method used by many nonprofit organizations to offer their supporters intriguing items, tickets, and/or experiences to bid on during a fundraising event. Unlike traditional auctions, silent auctions involve recording bids on paper or digital platforms, allowing for a quieter, more relaxed atmosphere. While it is possible to have a classy live auction, silent auctions can allow nonprofits to attract a broader range of people while still generating excitement around their cause.

Impact on Funds Raised & Community Engagement

Fundraising events play a crucial role in supporting the mission and goals of nonprofit organizations. Silent auctions offer a fun and interactive way for donors to contribute while allowing them to take home exclusive gifts, tickets, and experiences. By incorporating creative ideas and local items into the auction, organizations can boost community engagement and foster stronger relationships with their supporters and those who wish to donate. In addition, successful silent auctions can significantly increase the overall revenue generated at fundraising events, making them an essential component for many nonprofits.

Simplify Your Auction Item Management with PayBee

Organizing and managing a silent auction can be a complex and time-consuming task. That's where PayBee comes in, offering a seamless and efficient solution to help you maximize your fundraising. PayBee's platform enables nonprofits to easily manage all aspects of their auction, from tracking those who donate silent auction items to donor communication to bidding and payment processing.

With PayBee's technology, you can conveniently place bids using a mobile device, ensuring everyone involved has a smooth and enjoyable experience. And by leveraging PayBee's expertise and innovative platform, nonprofit organizations can focus on what matters most - making a difference in the lives of those they serve.

Are you ready to take your auction to the next level? These fresh, creative silent auction ideas will captivate your guests and skyrocket your fundraising successes!

Creative Auction Ideas

Hosting a great silent auction depends on your organization offering unique and appealing items that cater to various interests. By incorporating best-selling auction items and themed baskets that donors will love, you can ensure that your event attracts a diverse crowd and evokes excitement.

Ideas for Incorporating Unique Auction Items to Attract Bidders

Auctions are a great way to raise funds for nonprofits, but they require detailed donation planning and creative silent auction ideas to be successful. Here are some unique items to consider for your next auction:

Popular Silent Auction Items to Pique Interest

Some popular silent auction items include vacation packages, exclusive experiences like cooking lessons or hot air balloon rides, and limited-edition memorabilia. This type of auction item not only piques the interest of donors but also encourages friendly competition between attendees, driving up the final bid amounts.

Themed Baskets for an Engaging Event

Themed baskets are another creative way to present silent auction items and make your event more engaging. By curating baskets around specific interests, such as movie nights, spa days, or local adventures, you can offer something for everyone and increase the likelihood of higher bids. You can also reach out to local businesses and organizations for donations, which helps you gather unique items and strengthens your community ties.

A Well-Rounded Experience

As you plan, remember that offering a mixture of silent auction items, including gift items, experiences, and tickets to popular events will appeal to a wider range of people and increase your fundraising dollars. Remember that successful silent auctions are not only about the items you offer but also the way you present them. By creating an attractive and well-organized event, you can showcase the value of each item and encourage donors to bid generously.

Themed Gift Basket Ideas for Your Silent Auctions

Themed silent auctions bring extra excitement to fundraising events by offering silent auction items and experiences that cater to specific interests. These themes make an auction more engaging and help encourage donation efforts to raise overall fundraising totals.

The idea of constructing themed gift baskets is a popular way to present items, as they allow for creative combinations of products, gift cards, and experiences.

Coffee Connoisseur: Create gift baskets for coffee lovers, featuring a variety of gourmet coffee beans, a French press or pour-over coffee maker, mugs, and tasty biscotti or chocolate-covered coffee beans.

Tea Time: Delight tea enthusiasts with a donation of premium loose-leaf teas, an elegant teapot, cups, a tea infuser, and sweet treats like honey or shortbread cookies.

Gardener's Delight: Assemble a basket for gardening enthusiasts with gardening tools, gloves, seed packets, plant markers, and a gardening book or magazine subscription.

Sports Fanatic: Cater to sports fans with a gift basket featuring team merchandise, game tickets, sports memorabilia, and snacks perfect for game day.

Tech Guru: Curate a collection of the latest tech gadgets and accessories, like smart home devices, phone chargers, or Bluetooth speakers, for tech-savvy people.

Bookworm: Create a literary-themed basket with popular books from various genres, a cozy reading blanket, bookmarks, and a gift card to a local bookstore or online retailer.

Chocolate Indulgence: Satisfy chocolate lovers with gift baskets containing a decadent assortment of gourmet chocolates, truffles, hot cocoa mixes, gift certificates to regional chocolatiers, and chocolate-themed dessert cookbooks.

Date Night In: Design romantic gift baskets with everything needed for a cozy night at home, such as a bottle of wine, a gourmet meal kit, candles, and a soft throw blanket.

Music Lover: Assemble a music-themed gift basket with vinyl records, a portable record player, concert tickets, wireless speakers, or a music subscription service. 

Global Cuisine: Assemble gift baskets filled with a diverse selection of international ingredients, spices, and cooking tools that represent various culinary traditions, like Italian Arborio rice for creamy risottos, a bamboo steamer for delicate Chinese dumplings, and  Japanese matcha powder for vibrant green tea treats.

By thoughtfully selecting themed items for your silent auctions, you can create engaging events that appeal to an expansive range of people and boost your fundraising bottom line. 

Showcasing Local Items: Ideas for Boosting Community Engagement

Incorporating local items in your silent auction is an effective way to boost community engagement and support. By showcasing local artwork, products, and services, you not only provide unique and appealing options but also promote local businesses and foster a sense of community pride. And when locals donate to your cause, their donation is even more likely to bring new clients. 

Local Artwork, Products, and Services

Highlighting local talent and offerings can make your silent auction items stand out and attract more people. Consider asking people to donate:

  • Original artwork
  • Handcrafted goods or products made in the community
  • Gift certificates for local services, such as spa treatments, lessons, or dining experiences

Partnering with Local Businesses for Donations

Collaborating with local businesses is a win-win situation for your organization and the companies themselves. By partnering with them for charity donations, you can:

  • Obtain unique donations or experiences to offer as silent auction items
  • Strengthen relationships between your nonprofit and people in the local business community
  • Increase visibility for both your organization and the businesses involved

Showcasing local items in your auction not only adds interest and excitement to the event but also helps to create a sense of unity and support within the community. By promoting local businesses and their offerings, your nonprofit can foster stronger relationships with donors and the community at large, ultimately contributing to the continued success of your fundraising efforts.

Innovative Ideas for Auction Item Fundraising 

To make your fundraising auction unforgettable, consider incorporating innovative items that go beyond the typical offerings. By presenting extraordinary experiences and exclusive auction item memorabilia, you will capture people's attention and elevate their overall experience.

Curating Experiences: Unforgettable Packages Ideas for Your Auction

Offering one-of-a-kind experiences in your auction is a surefire way to create lasting memories and generate excitement for your fundraising event. People love unique, exclusive, and personalized ideas, so you can entice donors to bid higher and raise more funds. Here are some tips on how to curate unforgettable experiences for your auction:

  1. Identify your target audience: Consider your potential bidders' interests, preferences, and demographics when selecting tickets or experiences for your fundraising auction. This will ensure that your packages are appealing and relevant to your audience.
  2. Think local and global: While including local experiences that showcase your community's unique offerings is essential, don't be afraid to think bigger. Luxury vacations, exotic getaways, or international adventures can generate buzz and attract soaring bids.
  3. Collaborate with businesses and corporate partners: Reach out to local businesses, artists, and organizations to secure unique donations of experiences or services for your auction. Not only will this help you create diverse and exciting packages, but it also fosters relationships within your community.
  4. Focus on exclusivity: Offer experiences that are difficult to find or unavailable to the general public, such as behind-the-scenes access, private events, or limited-edition items. This sense of exclusivity will make your auction items more valuable and desirable.
  5. Cater to various interests: Include diverse experiences to appeal to different tastes and hobbies that a mixture of people will love.
  6. Promote your packages: Highlight the unique aspects and value of each experience through engaging descriptions, high-quality images, and promotional materials. This will help people understand what they're bidding on and why the item is worth their investment.
  7. Track and analyze bid data: Keep a close eye on the bidding activity for each experience, noting popular items and trends. This information can help refine your offerings in future fundraising auctions and better understand your audience's preferences.

When it comes to curating experiences for your item auction, there are plenty of ideas you can consider. From unique and exclusive packages to popular regional offerings, here is a list of silent auction ideas for experiences you could offer to attract bids and generate enthusiasm for your fundraiser.

Weekend Getaways

Relaxing or adventurous weekend getaways to nearby destinations are an idea that allows people to escape their daily routine and enjoy a much-needed break.

Behind-the-Scenes Tours

Provide donors with access to exclusive behind-the-scenes tours of popular attractions, studios, or events, giving them a rare insider's perspective.

Hot Air Balloon Rides

Let bidders soar above scenic landscapes with a thrilling hot air balloon ride. This idea will appeal to all types of donors, from families to romantics to thrill-seekers. 

Cooking Classes

Provide hands-on cooking classes with renowned chefs or at prestigious culinary schools, allowing people to enhance their skills and enjoy a delicious meal.

Adventure Sports Experiences

Offer adrenaline-pumping adventure sports ideas and experiences, such as skydiving, bungee jumping, or white-water rafting, giving dare devils a chance to tick off their bucket list items.

Local Cultural Experiences

Curate immersive local cultural experiences, including guided tours, food tastings, or traditional art workshops, allowing bidders to explore and appreciate the richness of their community.

Celebrity Encounters

Arrange meet-and-greets, item autographing sessions, or exclusive celebrity events, providing people with an extraordinary chance to interact with their idols.

Family-Friendly Activities

Offer family-friendly activities, such as amusement park tickets, museum memberships, or zoo passes, allowing families to bond and create lasting memories.

Wellness Retreats

Provide rejuvenating wellness retreats at serene destinations, including yoga classes, spa treatments, and meditation sessions, allowing bidders to unwind and recharge.

Fine Dining Experiences

Offer exclusive fine dining experiences at top-rated restaurants or with personal chefs, allowing auction bidders to indulge in gourmet cuisine and exceptional service.

Music and Theater Performances

Provide access to exclusive music concerts, theater productions, or backstage experiences, allowing bidders to enjoy unforgettable live performances.

Skill-Building Workshops

Offer workshops or lessons in areas such as photography, painting, or dance, giving bidders the chance to develop new skills or hobbies while supporting your organization.

Include Exclusive Memorabilia: Ideas for Increasing Interest in Your Auction

Incorporating exclusive memorabilia into your auction can pique the interest of potential bidders and encourage higher bids. By offering rare, limited-edition, or autographed items, you can create a sense of exclusivity and desirability that will make your fundraising event stand out. Here are some tips on how to include exclusive memorabilia in your silent auctions:

  1. Research popular items: Keep an eye on trends and popular ideas and items in other silent auctions to understand what resonates with bidders. This will help you curate a list of sought-after memorabilia for your own event.
  2. Think local and global: Offer a mix of local and global items to cater to various interests and preferences. For instance, you could include signed items from local celebrities and artists alongside international sports and entertainment memorabilia.
  3. Partner and collaborate with neighborhood organizations: Reach out to local businesses, artists, and organizations to secure exclusive memorabilia for your silent auction. This helps you create a diverse and appealing auction item list and fosters relationships within your community.
  4. Emphasize rarity and value: When selecting memorabilia items for your silent auction, focus on things that are difficult to find, limited-edition, or autographed by notable figures. These characteristics can make your silent auction items more appealing and valuable to winning bidders.
  5. Cater to various interests: Include diverse memorabilia to appeal to different hobbies and passions. This could range from sports memorabilia to art pieces and collectibles.
  6. Promote your items: Showcase each memorabilia piece's unique aspects and value through engaging descriptions, high-quality images, and promotional materials. This will help people understand why they should invest in these incredible auction items and support your nonprofit organization.
  7. Track and analyze bid data: Monitor the bidding activity for each memorabilia item, noting popular items and trends. This information can help refine your offerings in future auctions and better understand your audience's preferences.

Including exclusive memorabilia in your auction can attract more attention to your fundraising event and encourage higher bids from participants. When it comes to providing exclusive merchandise, there are plenty of ideas to consider:

Signed Sports Memorabilia

Offer autographed jerseys, balls, or equipment from famous athletes or teams, appealing to sports enthusiasts.

Limited-Edition Artwork

Feature limited-edition prints or original artwork from well-known or up-and-coming artists, appealing to art collectors and enthusiasts.

Autographed Entertainment Memorabilia

Include signed items from celebrities, musicians, or actors, such as movie posters, albums, or props from famous films or shows.

Historical Artifacts

Offer unique historical artifacts, documents, or collectibles with significant cultural or educational value.

Collector's Edition Books or Book Collections

Present rare, first edition, or signed books from renowned authors, appealing to literature lovers and book collectors.

Designer Fashion Items

Showcase limited-edition or autographed designer clothing, accessories, or shoes from high-end fashion brands.

Rare Coins and Stamps

Offer a selection of rare, valuable, or unique coins and stamps for collectors and history enthusiasts.

Vintage Toys and Collectibles

Feature rare or sought-after vintage toys, action figures, or collectibles from popular franchises or eras.

Signed Musical Instruments

Include autographed musical instruments from famous musicians or bands, appealing to music lovers and collectors.

Rare Wine and Spirits

Feature rare, vintage, or limited-release wines and spirits for wine connoisseurs and collectors.

Exclusive Jewelry Pieces

Offer unique, custom-designed, or limited-edition jewelry pieces from well-known designers.

Autographed Scripts and Screenplays

Include signed movie scripts or screenplays from famous television shows, appealing to fans and collectors.

By incorporating a diverse range of exclusive merchandise, experiences, and memorabilia, you can attract a wider audience and increase bidder interest in your silent auction items. This will ultimately help you raise more funds for your cause and make your fundraising event an unforgettable experience for all.

Explore Artistic Creations: Elevating the Auction Item Experience

Featuring unique and captivating art pieces as silent auction items can elevate the experience and inspire more competitive bidding. By showcasing a variety of art forms, styles, and mediums, you can create an immersive and visually appealing event that stands out from the rest. Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate artistic creations:

  1. Stay informed about prevalent art trends: Keep track of trending art styles and artists to ensure your auction features sought-after pieces that resonate with bidders.
  2. Offer a diverse range of art styles and mediums: Appeal to various artistic tastes by including different types of art, such as paintings, sculptures, photography, and mixed media.
  3. Collaborate with local and international artists: Partner with both local and global artists to provide a broad selection of unique and exclusive artwork for your silent auction.
  4. Focus on originality and exclusivity: Prioritize one-of-a-kind, limited edition, or signed pieces to amplify the desirability and value of the artwork in your auction.
  5. Cater to different budgets: It is a good idea to include artwork at various price points to accommodate a wide range of budgets and attract more bidders.
  6. Showcase the artists and their stories: Highlight the background and inspiration behind each piece and the artist's story through engaging descriptions and promotional materials. This will help people connect with the auction item and understand its significance.
  7. Analyze bidding patterns and preferences: Keep track of which art pieces generate the most interest and highest bids, and use this information to fine-tune your future silent auction offerings.

Incorporating artistic creations into your auction item list can add a touch of sophistication and allure, attracting a wider audience and generating more revenue for your cause. Explore various art forms and styles to create a memorable and successful silent auction event.

Here are some ideas for art items you can feature as part of your fundraising auction list:

Original paintings

Offer a selection of original paintings in various styles, from abstract to realism, to appeal to a wide range of art enthusiasts.

Limited edition prints

Feature limited edition prints signed and numbered by the donors/artists, providing collectors with exclusive pieces for their collections.


Include unique sculptures made from different materials such as bronze, stone, or glass, showcasing diverse artistic expressions.

Fine art photography

Curate a collection of striking fine art photographs that capture stunning landscapes, cityscapes, or portraits, appealing to photography aficionados.

Handcrafted pottery

Present beautifully crafted pottery pieces, such as vases, bowls, or decorative items, highlighting the skill and creativity of local artisans.

Textile art

Incorporate textile art, like intricately designed tapestries, quilts, or wall hangings, showcasing various techniques and cultural influences.

Mixed media creations

Feature mixed media artworks that combine different materials and techniques to create captivating and thought-provoking pieces.

Art installations

Offer immersive art installations or experiences, such as a custom mural or an interactive exhibit, providing bidders with truly unique silent auction items.

Custom portraits

Include the opportunity to commission a custom portrait by a talented artist, offering a personalized touch to the winning bidder's collection.

Art classes or workshops

Collaborate with local art studios to offer art classes or workshops, allowing attendees to explore their creative side and learn new skills.

Signed art books

Provide signed art books featuring the work of renowned artists, giving collectors a valuable addition to their library.

Art-inspired experiences

Offer art-inspired experiences, such as a private gallery tour or a meet-and-greet with a famous artist, creating unforgettable memories for the winning bidder.

Host an art gala

Feature a special art-focused event in addition to your silent auction to allow those in attendance to view and purchase artwork directly from local, regional, or even international artists. Hosting an art gala also gives you the chance to showcase the work of featured donors, sponsors, and partners, as well as the talent and creativity of your organization.

No matter the type of organization you’re fundraising for, art is a great way to elevate your silent auction and draw in a broader audience. From original paintings to custom portraits and fine art photography, many types of artwork can make an impactful addition to any silent auction event.

By focusing on exclusivity, catering to different budgets, showcasing stories behind each piece, and analyzing bidding patterns and preferences - you'll be sure to create a successful fundraiser with these unique offerings.

Silent Auction Strategies and Tips

Silent auctions are an increasingly favored fundraising strategy for nonprofit organizations, schools, and local businesses. With the right silent auction items, you can get more people involved and raise more money to support your cause. But how do you ensure your silent auction is successful? Here are some specific strategies and tips to consider.

Planning and Organizing a Successful Silent Auction Event

To ensure a successful charity auction, it's essential to have a well-organized plan in place. This includes setting goals, creating a timeline, and assigning responsibilities to your team members.

Setting Goals

Establish clear objectives for your silent auction, such as fundraising targets or increasing donor engagement. These goals will guide your organization's efforts and help measure the event's success.

Creating a Timeline

Develop a comprehensive timeline outlining all the tasks and deadlines leading up to the event. This will keep your team on track and ensure nothing is overlooked.

Assigning Responsibilities

Delegate tasks to specific team members or committees, ensuring everyone understands their role and responsibilities in making the silent auction a success.

Setting Up Silent Auction Stations: Best Practices to Showcase Each Auction Item

When setting up your silent auction, you want to ensure everything is done right. The best way to do this is by following the best practices for setting up auction stations. This will help ensure a successful event and maximize donations.

1. Prepare an attractive display

Present silent auction items in an appealing and informative manner. Include detailed descriptions, quality images, and relevant information about the item's value or significance.

2. Group Items by Theme or Category for Easy Browsing

Organize auction items into categories or themes, making it easy for participants to browse and find items that interest them.

3. Provide detailed information about each item

Offer comprehensive descriptions and relevant details about each item to help bidders make informed decisions.

4. Use technology where possible

Utilize digital tools, including mobile bidding platforms like Paybee, to streamline the bidding process and enhance the overall auction experience.

5. Secure the items

Ensure all auction pieces are safely secured and protected from tampering or damage. This will help maximize their value and protect your organization from any liability.

6. Create eye-catching signage

Design and display clear, attractive signs for each auction item and directional signage to guide those who attend through the various auction stations and categories.

7. Offer a variety of bidding options

Accommodate different bidder preferences by providing both paper bid sheets and digital bidding options, ensuring a smooth and accessible experience for all participants.

8. Showcase high-value items prominently

Highlight valuable or unique auction items in prominent locations to attract attention and encourage bidding among attendees who love to compete, ultimately increasing your fundraising prospects.

9. Set minimum bids and bid increments strategically

Determine appropriate minimum bids and bid increments based on the value of each item, ensuring that your organization raises sufficient funds while maintaining bidder interest and engagement.

10. Provide a comfortable and inviting atmosphere

Arrange the silent auction stations in a spacious layout with comfortable seating areas, allowing auction-goers to relax, mingle, and browse and bid on items. This creates a more enjoyable experience, encouraging participants to stay longer and engage more with the auction.

Following these best practices when setting up your silent auction stations will create an engaging and successful event that maximizes donations and leaves a lasting impression on your donors.

Promoting a Silent Auction Event: Reaching Beyond the Local Audience

Promoting your silent auction is critical to reaching a wider audience and increasing donations. There are several strategies you can use to get the word out about your event, from leveraging social media channels to partnering with local businesses or organizations. With the right approach, you can ensure that your silent auction reaches a broad range of possible bidders and donors.

1. Utilizing Social Media, Email Campaigns, and Local Advertising

Promote your silent auction through various channels, including social media, email campaigns, and local advertising, to reach a wider audience and attract more participants.

2. Engage Local Businesses and Organizations

Partner with local businesses and organizations to help promote the event, leveraging their networks and resources to increase visibility and awareness.

3. Share Success Stories and Testimonials

Highlight the impact of your nonprofit organization's work by sharing triumphant stories and testimonials from beneficiaries, inspiring donors who will love to support your cause.

4. Offer Exclusive Early Bird Incentives

Encourage early registration or ticket purchases by offering exclusive incentives, such as discounted tickets or special access to auction items, to generate excitement and commitment.

5. Leverage Influencers and Ambassadors

Connect with community influencers, celebrities, or leaders who can help promote your fundraising event and attract a larger audience through their social media platforms and personal networks. Influencers can encourage people to donate or attend your event. 

6. Host Pre-Event Activities or Teasers

Organize pre-event activities, such as preview parties or online sneak peeks of auction items, to build anticipation and give attendees a taste of what to expect at the auction event.

Implementing promotional strategies can effectively increase awareness of your fundraising event, attract more publicity, and raise additional funds for your nonprofit organization.

Exclusive High-End Auction Item Ideas

To maximize donations and generate excitement at your fundraising event, you may want to consider providing a few exclusive high-end silent auction items that will entice bidders. These unique items should be carefully chosen to reflect the values of your organization and appeal to donors. From luxury vacations to rare items and experiences, these distinctive offerings can help you raise more funds for your cause while creating an unforgettable occasion for all participants.

Private Concert or Music Performance

Elevate your auction event with the unforgettable gift of a private concert or music performance. This unique experience provides an intimate setting for the winning bidder and their guests to enjoy a live show by a well-known artist or band. This exclusive offering will create a lasting impression, whether it's an acoustic performance in the winner's home, a preferred venue, or even an outdoor garden party.

Luxury Home Staycation

For the ultimate getaway, offer a luxury home staycation package. This exclusive experience provides winning bidders with all the comforts of home, including accommodations in a luxurious residence for a weekend getaway. AirBnb or luxury resorts can provide you with a complete package that includes a rental car and other amenities.

Luxury Car Experience

For the high-end car enthusiast, offer a luxury vehicle experience. This exclusive package provides an opportunity to experience the thrill of driving a high-end automobile, such as a Ferrari or Lamborghini. Package options may include track days, test drives, and even photo shoots to capture the moment.

VIP Sports Adventure

These premier offerings can provide winning bidders access to private box seats or luxury suites for a major sporting event. Additional options include golf lessons with a professional golfer at a prestigious course or exclusive access to sports training facilities or events. This unique experience will make a lasting impression and help to raise more funds for your cause.

Exclusive Fine Wine and Spirits

From rare and vintage bottles of wine or champagne to whiskey or bourbon tasting experiences with a connoisseur, these exclusive options will make an unforgettable impression on the winner and their friends. Consider providing custom consultation services to help select the perfect bottle or setting up customized tasting events in private settings.

Flight Lessons

This idea is for the aspiring pilot! This exclusive package provides an opportunity to experience the thrill of flying a plane with the guidance of an experienced flight instructor. Flight packages can include ground school instruction, pre-flight briefings, and in-air instruction.

Final thoughts

These silent auction item ideas can transform fundraising events, creating memorable experiences while significantly boosting nonprofit revenue. By incorporating fresh and creative ideas, organizations can attract diverse donors and bidders, foster community engagement, and strengthen relationships with supporters.

To ensure a seamless and enjoyable auction experience, partner with Paybee! Our innovative platform simplifies the management process, allowing nonprofits to focus on their mission and impact. With a user-friendly interface and mobile bidding capabilities, Paybee streamlines every aspect of your fundraiser, from tracking donation items to communicating within your organization to payment processing.

By implementing these unique and engaging silent auction ideas, nonprofit organizations can elevate their events, generate excitement around their causes and, ultimately, make a lasting difference in the lives of those they serve. So why wait? Start planning your next fundraising event today and unlock the incredible potential of offering silent auction items. 

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