Event Categories Defined: Auctions
Event Categories Defined: AuctionsEvent Categories Defined: Auctions

Event Categories Defined: “Auctions”

Goals: raise money, community motivation, networking

Auctions present event planning firms with an opportunity to show-off your skills at raising money for your clients. While potential clients may trust in an event planner’s creativity to dazzle guests and the strategic mindset it takes to coordinate the logistics of an event but why stop there? A successful auction will prove your firm can turn a profit for its clients. In the minds of clients (particularly corporate) an event is a necessary evil with or without a potential Return on Investment. Demonstrate to your clients how auctions can help them turn a profit on their event.

Approximately 5,000 companies that specialize in event management according to the U.S. Economic Census. Each year, these businesses aggregately generate more than $5 billion dollars a year of revenue and provide jobs for more than 40,000 people. The growth of this industry has remained in lockstep with the growth of the economy in general. The number of businesses operating within this industry has increased 15 percent over last five years while gross receipts have increased almost two fold.


Especially popular for nonprofit events. Be sure to recruit 150 to 300 bidders for the auction to be profitable to all stakeholders. When considering the venue, keep in mind that an auction can be held as its own stand-alone event or be combined with another event, such as an awards dinner or sports event. Try to enlist vendors to donate goods, services, and merchandise in exchange for being featured as event sponsors and provide receipts so that donors may apply for a tax write-off based on the wholesale price of the goods donated. Securing donations will keep event expenses relatively low to gross revenues. (Check with the IRS for the current regulations ).

Two types of auctions are possible: silent and live. The silent auction is usually held during the cocktail reception and prior to the live auction event although silent auctions can also be scheduled to run throughout an awards dinner or sports tournament. The silent auction is for items with economical price tags. During silent auctions, bidders walk around a room and enter their name and bid on items that catch their attention. A starting price for the item is usually established though it’s not required. Bids may be open, but if closed make sure there’s a clear bin to stick the bids in.

Winners are announced at the end of the event or as an opener for the live auction. Make sure you save the more extravagant items for the live auction.

An auction organizer must have 2 essential qualities: ability to network and bring on board people who can be asked for donations of merchandise, services, and goods; and a knack for organizing a team that can adequately keep record of and redeem bids, and collect payments.

Ideas for items to auction:

  • dinner for two coupons at the best restaurants in Miami
  • sports memorabilia (signed baseballs and footballs and T-shirts)
  • rare and “good” year wines, either by the bottle or by the case
  • rare automobiles (but only as an outright gift or on consignment with a minimum bid that is well publicized in advance)
  • tickets to sporting events, season tickets for Adrienne Arsht Center operas or ballets, plays, and movies
  • vacation trips (check with the community’s largest travel agency)

Beware these items:

  • paintings (unless the artist is recognized by everyone)
  • books (even the rare ones)
  • clothing (unless pieces are of notoriety and museum worthy)
  • out-dated computer hardware and software (although new computers and electronic items are very popular)

Advantages: auctions have the potential for good net revenue; they are flexible programs that can be integrated with other special events.

Cautions: auctions are labor intensive. When setting base prices, particularly when it comes to artwork, remember that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Items being auctioned must be supervised at all times, if you’re short on staff, recruit volunteers and if possible hire security guards to keep an eye on the goods.

Goals: raise money, motivation

The reputation of an event agency must be kept in the forefront at all times. Always honor deserving events, persons or organizations to maintain your company’s reputation, you values, and produce an event that the agency will be proud of!.


  1. Wendroff, A. L. (2004). Special Events : Proven Strategies for Nonprofit Fundraising. Hoboken, N.J.: Wiley.
  2. The Finance Resource. (2015). Free concert promoter business plan for raising capital from investors, banks, or grant companies! Retrieved from

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