Silent Auctions – Unreserved Solicitations
The thesaurus provides the following antonyms to silent:
explicit, communicative, tangible, expressed, unreserved.
The irony in a silent auction is the the solicitation process is the exact opposite. In soliciting your silent auction you must be bold, determined, and concise. Soliciting items is not a time to sit back and see what lands, this is a time for you and your committee to dig in, tap your networks, and ask anyone and everyone to support you. This is a time to raise awareness about your organization and to grow your community of support. Soliciting items is a mix of art and science, but with the following tips we hope you have success.
How to Ask
The very beginning of the solicitation process begins with drafting your letter or letters, generating your solicitation team, and creating your timeline. Each organization and person you ask for a donation from is going to want your deliverables in a different format. Be prepared to mail or email your letters, be able to provide your team all the information they need to submit an online request form, and also have a condensed version of your letter to use as a leave behind at businesses you frequent often. Your letter should contain the important information such as event date, organization mission, specific request, deadline for response, how they should respond, tax-id, and a contact person. Be sure to not get too wordy in these letters, some organizations get upwards of 50 letters PER DAY, so keep it attention-getting and concise.
Who to Ask
Who to ask may seem daunting, but it’s all about your network. Start with your community and making a list of all of the businesses in the community of your organization that may have a product or service that could be donated. Then move on to the personal communities of your committee members, board members, and staff. You never know who will donate, unless you ask, and some places may really surprise you! The other prospect that is often untapped is individuals. You have supporters that may love the opportunity to put together a great basket – so don’t forget to tell them that you are currently looking for donations too!
What to Ask
There are a few big categories when it comes to silent auction: Food & Drink, Arts & Entertainment, Sports & Recreation, Travel, Health & Beauty, Home & Garden, Kids & Family. These are the categories that people spend money on, but the items that do the best are the things you can’t buy. The private chef dinners, behind the scenes tours, and unique experiences always draw donors to give a little more and also add to the unique experience of your auction.
do When They Say Yes
The number one thing you need to do when some has said yes is THANK them. Proper recognition ensures that they will have a positive experience and donate again next year. We recommend a personal handwritten note right when they donate, a thank you sign at the event, and a formal tax receipt of their donation post event that also allows you to communicate how much the event raised.
Even when you do all the steps, you will occasionally hear a “no”. It is important not to get discouraged during the solicitation process. This is a big task and is best shared by a team where you can encourage and support one another. If you are still feeling unsure, we would love to talk to you about a customized solicitation strategy and helping you to achieve your fundraising goals.