How to Organize a Silent Auction

How to Organize a Silent Auction

Following are suggestions to help you organize a silent auction. These are simple guidelines and ideas put together by other Galactosemia Foundation parents.

How does this event make money?

The organizer collects items to auction off from businesses, friends, family, etc. Generally the items are donated at no cost to the organizer. Items are auctioned off using bid sheets where participants write their bids, instead of the traditional “out loud” auction. The auction is given a time limit. At the end of the allotted time, the highest bidder is awarded the item in exchange for the amount of money he/she promised. All money collected is PROFIT.

Possible costs of organizing a silent auction

Generally all items are donated, but you may choose to purchase some items to include in the auction. You will need paper to print out bid sheets and stickers or index cards to assign numbers to participants. You will need pens for each bid sheet.

Steps to organize a silent auction

Establish where the silent auction will be. Generally you hold a silent auction in conjunction with another event that draws a crowd, for example, a summer festival, a dinner, a concert, a carnival or a town/church cook out etc.

Create a bid sheet for each item (click here to see an example bid sheet). Make sure the bid sheet includes the name of the item and a starting bid (the lowest amount of $ you will sell the item for). It is suggested to request bids be made in $5 increments.

Ask participants to register with you so you can give them a bidding number. Record the participants name, address, phone, and e-mail, then assign them a number (CLICK here for an example registration sheet). After recording the # on your paperwork, write it on a sticky label for the participant (less likely to get lost if it can be stuck somewhere).

Participants bid on the items by recording their # and bid (the amount they are willing to pay for the item) on the bidding sheet. Participants continue to write their bids on the same paper, making sure the new bid is at least $5 more than the one written before. At the end of the event, whoever is the highest bidder (i.e. the last entry on the sheet) “wins” the item and pays the amount promised. The organizer collects the money and gives the item to the participant.

Decide in the beginning if the highest bidder must be present. This is the easiest way to ensure you receive the money promised and the easiest way to deliver the item. However, if you are willing to contact the participant and arrange delivery, your participants don’t have to be present at the end of the auction.

Who do participants make checks payable to, can I take credit cards and how do I handle the money?

The best way to handle this is to have checks made to GF, unless your regional group is an established non-profit and is actively supporting your event. You copy checks you receive for your records and then mail checks to the GF treasurer.

It is possible for you to accept a credit card from a participant. Direct the participant to the GF PAYPAL link on the GF website ( . It is best to e-mail the GF treasurer to verify the transaction was completed before you release the item.