Tips & Tricks
Image for The Basics of Silent Auction Bid Sheets, plus 4 Free Bid Sheet Templates

The Basics of Silent Auction Bid Sheets, plus 4 Free Bid Sheet Templates

Your guide to essential materials for a silent auction

An organized, straightforward bid sheet is a simple but essential foundation for your silent auction’s success. We know fundraiser planning can be stressful, so we’re providing some tools and tips to make it easy to prepare for your next silent auction.

In this blog post, we’re sharing free, downloadable silent auction bid sheet templates, plus a guide for making a silent auction bid sheet of your own. To further streamline your event planning, we’ve also got tips on how to secure valuable auction items.

What is a silent auction bid sheet, and why do I need one?

During a silent auction, attendees browse items that are on display. You’ll need a silent auction bid sheet to accompany each item that’s up for auction, so that they can place their bids in writing. This bid sheet acts as a record of bids, which is key for identifying the auction winners at the end of the event.

4 free silent auction bid sheet templates

Pressed for time, and need a quick template? Look no further than our silent auction bid sheet templates. They’re available to download and print as PDFs, and they come in 4 decorative themes to choose from. Pick your favorite, and download it for free!

How do I make a silent auction bid sheet?

Want to customize a bid sheet instead? Here are the elements of a standard silent auction bid sheet that you’ll need to make your own:

  1. Bidder Name: Be sure to have attendees record their name so that you can easily identify the winner of the item. If they’ve been assigned a ticket or number for the event, ask for this information too.
  2. Item Title and Description: Tell attendees about the item that’s up for auction. Writing a succinct, compelling blurb about the item is essential for capturing your attendees’ attention and garnering more bids.
  3. Starting Bid: Establish a baseline, and set the minimum amount that attendees must bid.
  4. Minimum Raise: A minimum raise defines the amount by which bids must increase; each bid must be greater than the last by a set amount or percentage of the last bid. This may be more useful for higher-value items.
  5. Item Value: When you have an especially valuable item, disclosing its value can help to make the bidding more competitive.

Tip: You might consider including a “buy-it-now” price that any attendee could pay to secure the item right away and close the bidding.

What is a good starting bid for a silent auction?

The ideal starting bid, minimum raise, and buy-it-now price all depend on your nonprofit’s fundraising goals for your event. You might also consider how many attendees you anticipate at the event, as well as the value of each item.

If you’ve held silent auctions in the past, it may be helpful to understand the bidding behaviors of your attendees so that you can set a realistic starting bid. Reviewing the results of past bid sheets is a great place to start!

How do I get items for a silent auction?

We’ve talked about item value as a key component for silent auctions and bid amounts; but how do you go about securing auction items in the first place? You can purchase items to offer at a silent auction, but applying for donations is far more cost-effective.

If you’ve never sourced donations before or you’re looking for a new way to secure in-kind items, sign up to join TheShareWay, a free online directory of over 1,500 companies that donate to nonprofits. Our powerful tools make it easy to find donors that are a good fit for your nonprofit, submit applications, and track their statuses all in one place.

If you apply for donations strategically, you can save time and make sure your event is a success. Here are our tips for silent auction planning:

  • Know your attendees: Search for donations that will get your attendees excited! For example, if you’re anticipating lots of families in attendance, theme park vouchers or vacation certificates might be especially attractive. Local restaurants, sports teams, and entertainment attractions that are well-known in your area are great starting points to source gift cards or tickets.
  • Start planning early: Most companies require at least a few weeks of advance notice to review your application. Because applying for donations can be a highly competitive process, it’s helpful to have backup options if you’re not approved for a donation right away.
  • Seek donations with different values: This will allow you to vary your starting bids, so that all attendees can find something that is within their budget.
  • Create silent auction gift baskets: To increase the value of donated items, bundle them into themed gift baskets.

Final Thoughts

With the right materials and resources, planning a silent auction can be a breeze. Use the silent auction bid sheet templates and donation application tips from this post to make your event planning easier than ever.

Cover photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Access thousands of donation request applications
Join TheShareWay to quickly discover companies that donate, entirely for free.