Donating for an Event or Silent Auction Ideas

As a professional home stager with a good presence in your local business community, you have probably been approached at some point to offer unique silent auction ideas up a donation as a prize for a silent auction. This type of thing happens all the time in my city and I remember when I was first asked to be part of a silent auction I was stumped at how I was going to handle it because all I have to offer is an intangible service.

First of all, when I say ‘silent auction’ I’m talking about a fundraiser for a school or some group or organization where there are tables set up for attendees to wander around looking at displays of products from sponsors, deciding on what items they would like to “win” by making the highest offer.

There are bid sheets next to each of these items where people can write down their name and the amount they would pay for that item. The idea is that whoever bids the most gets that item, and that money goes to the charity, and whoever has donated the item, that’s their donation.

Often you’ll see gift baskets or product donations from a local boutique for bidding on. Because you will most likely be offering a gift certificate for home staging or interior redesign, you want to create some presence on the table so you don’t just have a flat piece of paper that nobody will notice.

If you’re participating in one of these auctions, I would suggest going to the art supply store and buying a small wooden easel, a heavy piece of black card stock and several pretty pieces of nice handmade paper. You might choose to paint the easel to make it look nice if it’s a plain wooden one.

Your gift certificate should be printed professionally if you don’t have a good quality printer at home. Make a clear offer that ties into your services and will attract attention (and bids for the charity you’re supporting). For example you can use a phrase like “transform your home,” or mention color, or whatever it is you want to focus on.

Glue the pieces of handmade paper in a layered pattern on the card stock so there is maybe a 2 or 3 inch border of each color to the center, where the gift certificate will be. With something like this propped up on an easel, at least you’ll get some attention as people are walking by these tables covered in 3-dimensional objects.

You should use your space on the table for some marketing materials. After all, you want to look at this as a promotional opportunity.

Yes it’s great to donate something, but you always want to keep your marketing hat on and think, “Part of the reason I’m here is so that everybody attending this event leaves knowing who I am, what I do, and they know how to get hold of me.” Otherwise you might as well just do a blind donation, send your money and don’t bother with the event. You participate in a silent auction because you want to leverage your presence there.

Put down a stack of nice color postcards or brochures with before-and-after shots and some basic information about what you do. Make sure your website is on there as well as an email address and phone number.

Even if somebody isn’t going to bid on your gift certificate, they might see it and think, “I don’t feel like bidding on this tonight, but I’m really interested in what this person does and I want to keep that in my home file so that when I’m doing something to my house I know who to call.”