“Buy It Now Boards” are a great way to offer variety at your silent auction. It is the same concept as “buy it now” on eBay or Greater Giving Online Bidding, and is a tidy, fast way of selling retail gift certificates and dinner gift cards.
Creating a “there’s something for everyone” atmosphere is a great way to be more inclusive of all your guests.
Some auctions even group lower-priced physical items and sell them this way. It is located in its own area of the venue, so it is also a nice way to divert traffic away from your silent auction and over to these items. By doing so, you are forming two crowds—those that are looking specifically at gift certificates and lower-priced items, and those that are looking to bid on the more valuable packages and gift baskets offered in the silent auction.
The key is to make a very attractive display to draw attention to the area.
It should have the same theme as your silent auction (casino, masquerade ball, beach, etc.) and ideally should be located up front in the reception area to catch your guests’ eyes. Be sure to have signs throughout your venue notifying and directing people to the Buy It Now Boards. Post a brief description of each item, the estimated market value, the “Buy it Now” price, and any other information that would be useful for the guest to make a buying decision.
Items on these boards are typically valued at $100 or less, and the items can be organized by category (pizza gift cards, grocery cards, coffee, personal trainer certificates and trial gym memberships, etc.)
Advertise your Buy It Now Boards before the event. Just as you would advertise silent auction donors, be sure to advertise your Buy It Now Boards donors too, before the event and then near the Buy It Now Boards on the night of.
Before the event, be sure to explicitly call out your Buy It Now board. In your pre-event email, specifically reference your Buy It Now Boards, too. Highlight that the Buy It Now area has numerous items valued at under $100. It is a great way to attract guests to your event.
You can also thank or reward your setup volunteers by giving them first dibs at the Boards, and allowing them to remove and purchase one or two Boards items from the wall while they are onsite volunteering, before the start of the event.
This area should contain plenty of pens for guests to use!
Buy It Now Boards typically open for business when the doors open, but you can still create a sense of mystery and anticipation by having an unveiling time at the beginning of your event. This is sure to draw a crowd.
The boards can be named Buy It Now, Bargain Board, $100 Or Less, or any other eye-catching title that draws people who might be looking for a deal.
To set this up, create large labels with the following information:
- Package number
- Name of donor/establishment and location
- Brief description and restrictions (if any)
- Package value and Buy It Now price
- And any other specifics the buyer would need to know
Be sure to locate the bidder number and last name near the bottom of the label. You might put phone number in case you can’t read the name. You can always text them at the event to come get their prize!
Any bidder wanting to purchase simply fills in their bidder number and name, and voila, they are the winner!
Pricing of the Buy It Now items should be thoughtfully considered, and different pricing strategies are used for different types of items. For example, a $50 gift certificate to Amazon or your local grocery store could be priced at $45, $50, or even $55. These items are typically donated, and they sell quickly, so a price anywhere near the face value is fine.
Conversely, you may price a $125 dental visit/teeth cleaning much lower at perhaps $50; most attendees already have a dentist, but there might be a few bargain hunters in the audience who will happily snap this up. The same applies for gym memberships, personal trainer sessions, and items similar to these.
This revenue enhancer is particularly effective for schools and other groups that may have a diverse group of attendees. It’s also great for events with a large number of lower value donated items.
The night of the event, staff your Buy It Now Boards with runners to collect the completed (sold) cards and run them to the data entry area, where your team will enter the sale.
Once the cards are sold, remove them from the board to create a sense of urgency. Guests will want to get their purchase in before all the bargains are gone!