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5th Line Frenzy

Posted by Scott On February 1st

Silent Auction items typically bring in approximately 65% of the retail value according to the National Auctioneers Association. Of course some events do better than others but, the rule of thumb is 65%.


Savvy silent auction attendees have learned over the years to become “sniper bidders”. They wait until the last moment before making any bids and swoop in to place the last bid on an item seconds before the bidding closes. Wouldn’t it be great if there were an enticement to get bidders to pay more than 65% and encourage competitive bidding throughout the whole period of the silent auction? Well, now there is… 5th Line Frenzy.

Attendees, who place their bid on the “5th line” of any specially marked, silent auction bid-sheet, are automatically entered into a raffle to win a significant prize.

There several things that must be in place before 5th bidder frenzy can be effective:


•        All silent auction bids sheet must have predetermined bid amounts printed on the bidding forms (more on this later).

•        A substantial prize that has universal appeal has to be donated or purchased. (A gift certificate for an Apple IPad makes a great prize. The reason for the gift certificate is so the winner can upgrade the idea to meet their specific requirements.)


•        An incentive for the business person to donate the prize is to become a sponsor. The emcee/auctioneer, as part of their regular announcements, will state, “The fifth line frenzy is proudly sponsored by XYZ Bank.”

•        The prize is attractively displayed near the registration table with a brief written explanation of 5th Line Frenzy so that all attendees will notice the prize and hopefully inquire, “What is fifth line frenzy?” A friendly greeter will be on hand to explain the process.

•        Strategically placed, printed instructions will be placed throughout the venue. While 5th Line Frenzy is a simple concept, for many attendees this may be their first experience with this bidding strategy.


Registering people for the raffle is a breeze, provided you use these simple techniques.


•        At the conclusion of the silent auction, collect the bid-sheets and bring them to the check out area.

•        Have one person sit next to the person inputting the results into the computer to collect the data from the highlighted 5th line of the bid sheets.

•        The process for collecting the 5th line data is as simple as having a couple of blank sheets of 8 1/2 X 11 paper, and handwriting the bid numbers for everyone who placed their bid on the fifth line (see attached). Be sure to leave enough space around the number for easy scissor work later.

•        Once the number is collected from the individual bid-sheet, it is passed to the person who is inputting the data into the computer.

•        When all bid sheets have been processed by the 5th line collector, the numbers are cut into foldable slips of paper and placed in a container.

•        At some scheduled point during the announcements, prior to the live auction, the winner is quickly announced and informed their prize will be awaiting them at check-out.


5th line Frenzy works like a charm to get attendees to bid earlier while encouraging them to increase their bids to higher levels by skipping over the lower levels. When using this technique, do not be surprised if all of your silent auction items have bids on the 5th line or higher with 30 minutes still to go in the silent auction.


******Warning: Past experience has shown me that some organizations have attempted to modify the above process by preprinting the bid sheets with only the first couple of lines (40% and 50% of the retail value). The logic was, “Last year some people increased their bid higher on the 3rd line, so we don’t want to restrict their bidding.” This is the wrong approach. Attendees can bid on any line they choose so long as it increases the bid. Without preprinting the bidding increments on all the lines on the silent auction bid forms you are simply going to confuse your bidders.***********


For more information about “Fifth Line Frenzy” and additional profit making ideas contact Fundraising Event Consultant/Auctioneer Scott Robertson at [email protected]



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