Tips for Putting Together a Successful Silent Auction!

This Silent Auction section set up by Columbia Riverkeeper is a great example of how to space out your tables and items!

One inclusion for most fundraising events is that of the Silent Auction. In this blog post, we hope to assist you in properly setting up your Silent Auction and in helping your organization to understand what it takes for your Silent Auction to reach it’s full potential for success!

Silent Auction Spacing & Set-Up: It is generally good to plan one-foot of table space per Silent Auction item. (Ex// If you have 120 silent auction items, you would need twenty (20) six-foot tables to display your items upon). Additionally, to calculate the overall square footage needed for your Silent Auction, consider that you want roughly 10 square feet per item. (Ex// Again, if you have 120 items, you would need to have at least 1200 square feet). These calculations will ensure that you end up with adequate space for your guests to move around and view all of the items.

Determining the Amount of Items: First, take your guest count and divide it by two. This number will provide you with an idea of how many Active Bidding Units (people who will be actively bidding during your fundraising event) that you might have at your auction.

Think of yourself as a guest when it comes to set-up. What type of layout is going to be easiest to navigate within the space? If you plan to section off your Silent Auction, you can use the easy method of colored balloons to differentiate the sections (ie. the Blue Section, Red Section, etc.) – flying the balloons above eye height so the sections are easy to locate. A display that is most effective is a vertical 11×17 or 8 ½x11 stand for each item, including a photo (even if the item is already on the table for those who want to do a quick glance over), a short description of the item, and the value of the package/item.

If you are planning to section off your Silent Auction, below is a chart of how to space the items out into the different sections depending on the quantity and value. Benefit Auctions 360, LLC will assist our clients with Silent Auction package suggestions and placement should this be an area where you would like additional support.


1 Mid-Range Least
2 Most Mid-Range
3 Least Most


For easy math, below is an example of how this might look if you had 100 items with a cumulative value of $6,000:


1 30 $1500
2 50 $2000
3 20 $2500


Bid Increments and Setting Your Starting Bid: As for bid increments, it is suggested to have the starting bid be 30% of the item/package value, then increase bid increments from there. It is helpful to predetermine all of the bid increments and write them into the form to make it easiest for guests to participate. The increment amount depends on the value of the item/package itself, but it is typically 10%.

So, if an item is valued at $100, you would start the bidding at $30 and increase by 10% each line thereafter, looking like this:


(and so on)

You can also offer a “Purchase Now”, or a “Guaranteed Purchase” option for guests, an option which is featured at the bottom of the Silent Auction bid sheet.  This “Purchase Now” or “Guaranteed Purchase” option consists of a purchase price that is 200-250% of the item/package value, allowing for guests to bypass the Silent Auction bidding process, ensuring that they won’t be outbid by any other guests, allowing them to purchase their favored item/package instantly! This is a popular inclusion featured at many Silent Auctions.

Benefit Auctions 360, LLC hopes that these tips help you in having a successful Silent Auction!