The Latest (Most Awesome) Auction Item Ideas
Get started early when putting your procurement target list together and think outside of the box for auction item ideas. The list below will give you a starting point for your brainstorming:
Travel – Tie a travel package to a popular film, book, current event, or even the theme of your event. For example, a “Wild” movie travel package could include backpacks and camping gear, a chance to hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail, and a stay at a “semi-roughing it” campground such as El Capitan Canyon. Or, tie a trip to a popular event, like a travel package to the Toronto Film Festival or to Aspen for skiing and the Food and Wine Classic.
Adventure – An adventure experience appeals to any age group and can be physical, intellectual, or spiritual. Look to local attractions for ideas. Live near a racetrack or an Air Force base? Offer a racecar driving class or the chance to become a fighter pilot for a day. Maybe a behind-the-scenes-tour of your local zoo or local sports team facility. Are you located near a leading university or Fortune 100 company? Set up a lunch with a leader in education or business.
Celebrities – Who do you or your team know who is a celebrity willing to support your cause? Consider not only individuals in the spotlight, but those behind the scenes who may be able to provide access to a ‘spotlight celebrity’. Maybe they can provide access to unique items, such as a script or a prop from a popular movie or TV show. Perhaps a back-stage pass to a local newsroom. And remember that celebrities come in many flavors—there are those in the media (entertainment and news), but also consider celebrities in business and sports.
Miscellaneous – the sky is the limit for this category. Here’s a brief list of auction items you might want to consider:
- Head Table: a chance to sit at next year’s Head Table with extra wait staff, special menu, special wine, valet parking, and gift bags.
- Tails Table: next year, sit at the fun and crazy table at the back with party favors, noise makers, distinct decorations, and maybe even costumes.
- Ride Home in a Fire Truck: a lucky kid gets picked up from school for a special ride home in a ladder truck.
- Famous for a Day: offer a walk-on part in a local play or a chance to be a guest conductor in your local orchestra.
- Group Dine-Around: 10 to 12 people get chauffeured to top restaurants every Friday night for a month.
- Date Night: plan 12 pre-paid dates with activities (once a month for the whole year).
- Night with the Chef: you & some of your friends get a personal meal cooked by a local chef (does not have to be famous).
- “Best Pizza in Town, you decide”: get local pizza places to donate gift certificates and put them all together. Create an award that says “The Best Pizza in (name of town, city, or area) is _______.” The buyer gets to go to all the pizza places and decide which is the best. Then they give the award to that establishment. A lot of families really enjoy doing this and it lets the restaurants know that their donation is getting some extra attention, rather than just a part of a “grab-bag”. It also makes it more of a competition for the restaurants.
- Hot Air Balloon Rides.
- “Leap of Faith”: this package is geared towards a school where a famous/beloved teacher, parent, or principal agrees to sky dive with 7 other willing participants. (At one school, each spot went for $1,800!)
- Instant Dessert: flaming dessert created by a local chef auctioned to one table only that same night – bananas foster or baked Alaska. (This also works for table-side specialty cocktails such as Spanish Coffee.)
- “Kiss the Beagle”: this was used as a fund-a-cause item, where participants bid for an opportunity to kiss a beagle.
- “Send Your Child to the Principal”: a hot item at one elementary school was the opportunity for a student to spend the day with the principal.
- Name a street.
- Judge at a county fair.
- “Animal Encounters” at a local zoo.
- “Design-your-Own” Halloween costume: designed by your child, working with a costume designer and built by a local theater costume staff.
- Commission a customized painted mural.
- Dance classes.
- Tour a local fine art collection.
- Become a named character in a novel, movie, or TV show.
- Water balloon fight: balloons filled and stocked, and all clean-up provided.
In a pinch? Grab an Auction Booster package.
The more unique, interesting, and clever your items or packages are, the higher the revenue each will generate. Keep in mind the demographics and interests of your audience and get creative about what will intrigue them.