5 Winning Secrets to Online Silent Auctions Revealed

Silent auctions are fun, exciting, and engaging. They benefit nonprofit organizations by offering great items that could potentially be obtained at a bargain price.

Silent auctions held online are great ways to score deals on jewelry, artwork, electronics, and unique items. If you’re the winning bidder, your money will go towards a great cause plus you’ll have something valuable that enticed you in some way.

Final bids on items are typically somewhere between 50% and 70% of the market value of the winning item. While the organization received the item either in-kind or at cost value from the donating sponsor, bids will cover the cost of the item plus some extra towards the fundraising goal.


Here are a few tips to winning must-have items during a silent auction:


1. View the prizes carefully

Your first step at an online silent auction will be to review all items on display and find which items are enticing to you. Be selective and settle on a few items you would really like to win. Designate preferences so that you can focus on one or two items and ensure you monitor bidding adequately. Stay alert and wait as others place the first several bids. Consider how popular your choices are. Are bids rising quickly? If the bids soar past your budget, make a decision as to which item is more important and where you are willing to spend more.

2. Bid early

Bid early and often, don’t hold back! Let everyone know that you are here to win and don’t let anyone outbid you! If there is no minimum or opening bid price, bidding early works to your advantage. You can put a number that you think is reasonable and you’re willing to pay as a reasonable price, so subsequent bids don’t put the item’s price over its market value, as long as the item is not one of the popular items.

3. Bid late

In order to bid late, you must first bid early. That is, you must be the opening bidder on a few items. But it’s important to remain cognizant of bid closing times. A few minutes prior to bid close time, go through the online auction items to review the last bids on them. For those items where you think the last bid is less than your perceived market value or retail price of the item and it is one that you wish to acquire, place your final bid at a price that is at least $20 over the last bid price. This last tactic is critical since if you place a bid that is marginally more than the last bid price (say by $5 more), there is a good chance that a subsequent bidder will do the same and outbid you just before closing time.

4. Bid Strong

Don’t show any signs of weakness during the silent auction. Bid quickly and frequently if another bidder tries to outbid you. This is a show of dominance that lets everyone know who’s the boss. It’s ok to bid against yourself. Some people frown upon this, but studies show that bidding against yourself may actually add value to silent auction items.

5. Monitor Final Bids

The deadline for final bidding will probably be announced 10 to 15 minutes before the auction ends. Timing is very important during a silent auction. Try not to appear too eager, but remain watchful so you can swoop and post the last winning bid. Unfortunately, there will be others doing the same. Understand that whether you win or lose, there are other silent auction opportunities. In the end, it’s the charity and the beneficiaries that are the ultimate winners.