Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

“Instant Purchase” Option Gaining Popularity  At Silent Auctions

More than a year ago I released my Top 14 Tips on how to make a silent auction run smoothly – and profitably. I’m happy to report I just updated my Top 14 list by adding another important tip which will surely add to a charity’s or organization’s bottom line.


That important 15th tip deals with the option of “Instant Purchase.”  As many of you know, during a silent auction attendees monitor items during a period of several hours and continually up the bid if someone has outbid them.


Instant Purchase is just that – Instant.  It allows bidders to purchase a silent auction item instantly at a predetermined price.  The price should be decided for each individual item base on perceived popularity.  The general rule of thumb is to price the item at 150% to 200% of the item’s retail value.


As an example, let’s say the silent auction included a family ski vacation with a retail value of $5,000. A guest could instantly purchase that vacation for $7,500 or $10,000.  Another prime example is a strand of pearls. After the wife hints she really likes them the husband purchases them at the marked up price and takes them off the market. It’s a win-win situation as the husband doesn’t take the chance of being out bid and the charity sells the item more much higher than retail.


It’s important to note that not all silent auction items lend themselves to the “Instant Purchase” option. Those items are the ones that have no definite retail price or are not normally sold in the retail marketplace.

For example, a celebrity wine dinner or a class project constructed by the 2nd grade at a school auction.  A week stay in a mountain cabin owned by a friend of the charity but is never available for rent also would not qualify.


The bidders who enjoy the instant purchase option are generally male who simply do not want to continually monitor the silent auction sheets, but prefer to buy the item at the inflated cost which affords them the opportunity to hang out with their friends at the reception.


So, the next time you are conducting a silent auction, don’t forget to make some of the items up for bid available through the “Instant Purchase” option.


And don’t forget about my other Top 14 Tips.  Check them out by going to my website,

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