Auctions as fundraisers at fetes, trivia nights and parties— or even held as events in their own right—need 4 key features: desirable items for sale; a range of items of different values; an enthusiastic auctioneer and motivated bidders.

The most popular items at auction are most often things that money cannot buy: a celebrity chef’s private dinner in your home; a one-on-one with a golf pro; a night’s babysitting by the school principal. More attainable and valued auction items include holiday accommodation, dinners out and wine. Use your imagination here – if you have tickets donated to an event – can a ‘backstage visit’ be included?

Autographed sporting memorabilia is always very popular. Try to source donated items from within your group first to maximise profit. Someone in your school or sporting club community is bound to know a personality or sporting hero. Most sports stars are happy to sign a jersey, capor cricket bat for friends. Check school or club records: are any past members famous? Using contacts within your group can save time and money to source coveted auction items.

Alternatively write to sporting clubs, sports stars or associations, asking for a donation or an item or time (attending a dinner as a special guest, hosting a special training session that can be auctioned off etc). You may be lucky.

Another option is to buy sporting items such as a team jersey, cricket bat or football and pay the club a small service fee to get your items signed. Or pay a professional sporting memorabilia business for a signed, framed, authenticated and ready to be auctioned item. They will often provide stock on a consignment basis – if it doesn’t sell, you don’t pay.

Presentation of auction items is extremely important. A signed and framed State of Origin jersey will return more than a signed jersey because it looks so much better. Again, contain the framing costs by sourcing a framing business from within your group.

Big ticket auction items need promotion to draw a large crowd and to encourage a bidding frenzy. Can you get a celebrity along to the auction? Could a celebrity serve as guest auctioneer for a lesser-value item?

For the big ticket items, you want a professional. Ask a real estate auctioneer to conduct the bidding: it’s great exposure for the auctioneer and will help wring out every last dollar.

Originally published 15 March, 2015

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