Cool Ideas for Auction Enhancers

Auction enhancers are a fantastic way to liven up your events, and also bring in extra money for your cause.

They're fun, effective, and don't take a ton of prep. All the wins!

Here are a few ideas on how to take your auction to the next level. Read through the list, and choose a couple that you like and think would be a good fit for your guests. Have fun!

The first category is raffle style enhancers.

Golden ticket

Sell raffle tickets to guests, and pull one lucky winner at the beginning of the live auction. The winning guest get a to pull any of the packages out of the auction. You can also exclude any lots from the raffle pull, so that all guests know what's available ahead of time. Ideally, you would exclude any package that is worth more than the amount of tickets you would expect to sell. So if tickets are $100, and I conservatively expect to sell 20, then any package over $2000 would be excluded.

Con: Sometimes this can seem unfair to other guests, especially if they came with their heart set on bidding for one thing, and its pulled before they ever get a chance to participate.

Golden paddle

This one is my personal favorite. Its a raffle as well, but instead of winning their choice of any package, guests win a special paddle to use throughout the night. You can reassign value based on how many tickets you think you will sell. So like the example above, I could make the golden paddle worth $2000 if I'm selling tickets for $100 each, and exact to sell at least 20.

I've also heard of people raising the value of the golden paddle as they sell more tickets, and therefore raising the price of the tickets.

I don't recommend doing this until you've tested this enhancer at least once as is.

The reason why I love the golden paddle idea is that its a lot more fun for everyone. It gives someone a chance to “spend” more on an auction than they might have normally been able to. Sometimes, you get someone who's super excited about winning, and just bids on everything! That one person alone can bring in significantly more money to your auction because they are effectively raising the competition on all of your lots.

For this one, I also recommend making the paddle something cool, shiny, and even adding lights. Really dress it up to make people feel like they won something really cool.

Champagne raffle

This is the same as the golden raffle, with a little addition. The idea is that when a guest buys a raffle ticket, they also get a glass of champagne.

For this you would either notify bartenders, or better, have a small champagne bar in a strategic area so that guests can see it. I would also print out a big board so that guests can read about what the champagne is for.

Plot twist:

I went to an event where they had a champagne raffle, which I thought was a clever idea, but something very interesting happened. Instead of seeing it as a perk of buying a raffle ticket, guests were actually equating the price of the ticket to the price of a glass of champagne.

So instead of other events where people ( including me) have easily sold raffle tickets for $100, at this event it was difficult to sell tickets for $75.

Why? Because instead of thinking “$100, why not, its for a good cause. And I might win the golden paddle”, guests were (verbally) commenting that $75 was a very expensive glass of champagne”.

This was super interesting to me. Is advise being careful introducing things that people have a clear retail value of into your raffle, and if you do, be very specific and vocal about how you phrase it.

Card tear

This is a simple raffle enhancer. Basically you buy a pack of over sized playing cards ( great if you have a Vegas theme) that will act as tickets. When a guest buys the card, you tear It in half, and give one to the guest.

This one is great because people always know that no matter what, people know that their odds of winning will never go under 1/52.

Pro tip: for any of these raffle enhancers, order some light up necklaces, rings, or pins to give guests when they purchase a ticket. They're pretty cheap, and do two things:

  1. They are statement pieces for the event and other guests will then ask how the person got one

  2. It helps the people selling the tickets ( especially if you have a couple teams doing it) to keep track of who bought one already so they won't ask them again. You don't want guests to feel harassed!

Just make sure that you don't get the rave kind that flash super fast. You don't want to give anyone a seizure! ( plus its just annoying to try to have a conversation with someone with one of those things flashing in your face)

Silent Auction Enhancers:

Big board

Instead of doing a traditional silent auction, this one is loud. Really loud.

I'll explain this assuming you will be using prices of wood (even though you totally don't have to). You basically get a big board and put all of your items up there in a row, on slats of wood. Then each bid gets written on. Its own slat, and added to the board.

As more people bid, you add more and more slats, and when you start to get a certain amount, the older bids start to fall off the side, making a huge clank.

It can be super fun and is definitely an attention grabber.

If you don't want to go through the trouble of a wooden board, the same thing can be achieved with a whiteboard and two very gregarious volunteers to act as “auctioneers”. If you can get to volunteers who know a lot of your other guests, even better. Then they can call people out by name, all in fun.

End of the night enhancer:

Round up

This one is super simple, and happens at the end of the night. When guests check out, just have your registration team ask them if they would like to round up their donation. So if a guest spent $475, ask if they would like to round up to $500. Easy peasy.

I've also heard of some events making that a competition as well. They give higher round up suggestions, and tell guests that the person who rounds up the most will receive some special gift in the next couple of days.

This works better if you have a good number of higher spenders in the room. You want to be careful not to go to high, so that people don't leave feeling uncomfortable. You are the best judge of what would be the best way to approach this with your particular group of guests.

As a final note, choose one or maybe two of these strategies for your next event, but no more.

So if you do the golden paddle, you can also do a round up ask at checkout.

Please don't do more than that at any event. And I actually recommend doing just one if its the first time you've done any at your event.

These can be great ways to bring in extra money for your cause, but if done incorrectly, you can quickly put a bad taste in all of your guests mouths by making them feel like they're just being squeezed.

As you choose an enhancer, don't think “what will bring me the most money”. Instead change your focus to “ which one of these would my guests enjoy most”.

While yes, we all know the meaning of the word fundraiser, we are also building lasting, trusting relationships with our supporters.

I hope this list is helpful to you. If you have any other auction enhancers that aren't listed here, or have feedback on how one went for you, I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment in the box below!

Quierra Trammel

Tribe Table, Oakland, CA, United States