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You just became your school’s auction chair…What items will people want?

The first question I get from new auction managers is

Which items are going to sell best in an online auction?

The correct answer to that question should be:  “How the heck should I know?”, but after seeing thousands of online fundraising auctions, I can give you a few really good ideas.

  1. Grocery Gift Cards – These almost always get higher bids than their face value.  The reason?  Everybody is buying groceries anyway so the real donation amount is the amount over the face value.
  2. Hotel Stays – Everybody needs to get away for a while.  A couple of nights in a hotel, even in your home town, is always an easy sell.
  3. Unique Experiences – Something that somebody couldn’t just buy for themselves.  An example:  Lunch at the local Pizzeria (anybody can get that part) with the Mayor (now that is more difficult).
  4. Exclusive or hard to get items – Have a Broadway show or a new restaurant or a sporting event that people are dying to get into but can’t?  There is your exclusive item to drive attention and high bids.
  5. One of a Kind Items – This could be something fancy like a Faberge Egg or it could be something like a class art project for a school or something iconic like THE Red Rider BB Gun from A Christmas Story but don’t buy that because “You’ll shoot your eye out kid”.
  6. Dinner Certificates – Though these don’t go for over bid like Grocery Certificates, they still grab a high bid to retail ratio because everybody eats out.
  7. Tickets – These could be tickets to a play, sporting event or concert that people wouldn’t normally buy because it is frivolous but when the money goes to charity, sure why not.  It is for a good cause.
  8. Consumer Electronics – As I am typing this, the iPad 4003 just got replaced by the iPad 4004…oops now it is the iPad 4008.  People love electronics and while a bit difficult to get sometimes, people bid on these very actively.
  9. Gift of the Month Club – Every month they get a reminder of how cool your organization is.  You name a product and there is a That Product of the Month Club for it.
  10. Common Medical Procedure – An example would be braces or Laser Eye Surgery.  The key on this one is to make sure that it comes from a well known and reputable provider.
Is that all?  Shouldn’t there be more?
Of course there should be more, but those are the 10 best.  Also receiving votes in our list are Spa Certificates, Rounds of Golf, Jewelry, and anything that you would buy for yourself.  Remember not to over think it.  If it is something that you would bid on, chances are, most people would be of the same mind set.  Unless of course, your idea of something worthy of a bid is Maple Syrup art shaped like Silent Movie Stars.  You might be in the minority on that one.
Have fun and happy bidding.

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