Earning big winning bids on your auction items is a great way to raise funds, but stopping there will leave money on the table. We’ve listed our favorite benefit gala game ideas and other income streams that will make your charity fundraiser a smashing success!
Games to Play During the Silent Auction
Green Line Auction
Grab a green marker and draw a line under one of the biding lines in each of your bid sheets. People who bid on that line are automatically entered into a raffle. The effect is that people will skip the initial bids and jump straight to the green line!
Fill a locked box with valuable items and sell identical looking keys to guests. Over the course of the event, people will try their luck at unlocking the treasure chest, but there will be only one key that fits.
Wrap a felt bag around the stem of 100 champagne glass. All but one of the bags contain a cubic zirconium with the exception being a real diamond. Sell each glass for a fixed price, say $50. Purchasers visit an “Appraisal Station” for a jeweler to examine each person’s stone to identify the real diamond.
Get rid of small gift certificates by putting a slip of paper representing each in a helium balloon. Sell the balloons for $25, $50, or $100, depending on the value of the certificate within. Purchasers pop their balloon to see what they won.
An auction scrip is simply a voucher that is good toward some amount of an auction purchase. Auction scrips encourage people to bid because the scrip is worthless after your event! Include auction scrips in your ticket packages.
Add pledge forms on a silent auction table where guests can pledge money to fund a need. Provide a box for people to submit their pledge forms.
Raffle an item for which bidders can easily assess its value. For example, you could auction a flat screen TV for around $400, but make way more than that selling raffle tickets for $10/each. Make sure to follow all rules & regulations for fundraising raffles.
Games to Play During the Live Auction
Rather than hire a dessert caterer, have the desserts donated by committee members, local bakeries, and restaurants. Let each table fill out a form to bid on the right to choose their dessert first.
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Take a break from the regular live auction items to sell off 10-20 of your restaurant gift certificates at full retail value. The auctioneer calls out the restaurant and value of the certificate, and the winner is the the first paddle raised. Whereas these certificates may only get 50% of retail value during your silent auction, they can fetch the full retail value during a bidding frenzy.
Last Donor Reward
After all Fund-an-Item donations have been made, the auctioneer holds up a prize (bottle of wine, dinner certificate, etc…) and says, “We appreciate all your generous donations tonight. Before we move on, I want to give this gift to the person who is willing to be our very last donor at the $50 level.” Of course, many cards go up and the auctioneer now can get additional donations.
Bundle three similar items together in your live auction catalog, and let the winning bidder choose which option they want (or which two options they want). The opportunity to choose creates additional bid activity on each individual item.
A benefit of certain consignment items is that you may be able to sell the same item multiple times. Make sure to get clearance from the item provider to sell the donation more than once if bidding reaches a predetermined level.
Say you have the option to auction an evening on a party yacht where up to 40 people can attend. Rather than try to find a single bidder to pay $20,000, sell 20 pairs of tickets for $1,000/pair. You’ll have much greater luck!
Have some items that just missed out on your live auction? Let diners submit a single blind bid on them via form on their table. Runners periodically collect the forms throughout the live auction. At the end of the live auction, the high Bid-O-Gram bidder(s) are announced.
First in the Valet
Valet parking is convenient on arrival but can be a nightmare after the event is over. Start the live auction by offering “First in the Valet” as an auction item. The winner has their car brought up to the valet area immediately, and it is waiting for them any time they wish to leave.
After you record the winning bid for your final item, tally the total amount you raised at your event. The auctioneer can then announce, “We are so close to raising $XX,XXX tonight, a new milestone and record. Is there anyone who would like to make an additional donation to get us there?”
Heads & Tails
Guests purchase tickets for, say, $20, during the silent auction to participate. During the live auction portion, participants stand up and predict the outcome of a coin flip by either putting their hands on their heads or on their hips. Once someone misses, they are out of the game. Flip the coin until there is a single winner.
Have someone at each table play auctioneer to sell the centerpiece. Offer incentive gifts to the highest bidding table and to the table auctioneer.