Fundraising Blog

Best Prize Items for Online Silent Auctions

Nina Kempster
Fundraising events support

You’re backing a fantastic cause by running an online silent auction, great move! Using an online silent auction platform can generate so much more funds than traditional paper-based fundraisers.

Your next job is to source an amazing selection of prizes. This can be tricky. How do you know which auction items will inspire a bidding frenzy….and which items will be left to gather dust on your online auction shelf?

Rules to Follow

Generally, silent auction items need to inspire bidders to really, really want that prize! While your supporters will want to show your cause some love, a great selection of prizes will encourage people to dig a little deeper and give a little more.

Unless you have niche group of supporters with a particular interest, e.g., country music memorabilia, make sure the prizes have broad appeal. This means find things that most people will want, such as food hampers or homewares.

Silent auction items that cover a range of price points will ensure there’s something for every budget.

Do think about prize logistics and make sure you're clear on shipping and prize collection arrangements.

Although it can be time consuming, creating a great prize range is worth the effort. It means lots of healthy bids and, ultimately, more funds for your cause.

Silent Auction Items that Sell

Now you know some general rules about choosing silent auction items, let’s take a look at the specific prize types that are popular fundraisers.  With over 20 years’ helping charities and non-profits manage their fundraising auctions, we know which items generate a bidding frenzy.

Here’s our guide to online silent auction prize items that will boost bidding activity:


Have you ever met anyone who doesn’t like taking a vacation? While our destination and experience choices will differ, most of us are either planning our next trip, enjoying the current one or reliving the memories from previous holidays!

Incorporating holidays and getaways into your online silent auction is guaranteed to ignite bidding activity. From luxury vacations in far-flung locations to cosy B&Bs closer to home, it’s easy to include experiences that will appeal to a range of budgets and tastes.

How to find them:

·      local travel agents or hotel chains may be willing to donate a vacation package.

·      Use a third-party prize provider (like GalaBid)

Food and Wine

Over the last decade food and wine have fired our collective imaginations. Many of us now have developed a healthy appreciation for great produce and artisan producers. It’s why you can’t go wrong putting food and wine on your silent auction prize menu!

While quality hampers will always be popular, look to experiences as well as physical items. Restaurant vouchers (particularly current hot-spots), cooking classes, vineyard excursions and wine tasting are interesting and unique ways to tap into everyone’s love of eating and drinking.

How to find them:

·      Ask local providers or retailers for donations


Experiences have that I’ve-always-wanted-to-do-that factor!

Offering bidders the chance to tour a brewery, watch the sunset from a luxury harbour cruise or skydive is a unique opportunity to try something new.

Experiences are always great shared, so think about offering them on a group basis as well as individual. A skydive with work colleagues, for example, could be perfect for team bonding.

How to find them:

·      Again, contact your local suppliers for donations

·      Don’t forget to put a call out to your friend and family network to see if they have access to organizations that can help


Providing auction guests with the opportunity to get hold of rare or hard-to-find items is exciting. Signed and framed football jerseys from a local sports star or instruments signed by popular recording artists are always a hit with auction bidders.

Generally, the rule is the bigger the star the more sought after the prize, but don’t be afraid to go niche if the audience is right. If you’re organising a fundraiser that has a specific focus, such as supporting young and disadvantaged hip-hop artists, memorabilia from record labels or artists that may only be well known in hip-hop circles is absolutely appropriate.

How to find them:

·      memorabilia is often difficult for people to source themselves. Find a third-party provider that will have a range of items to choose from, but be aware that these providers will likely charge a fee for their items.


And on the subject of music, exclusive packages that offer tickets to sold out concerts, backstage passes, meet-and-greet opportunities will get bids soaring.

While general concert  tickets (particularly to see major artists, such as Adele) are popular, the experiences that bidders are unable to access ordinarily have an extra appeal.

How to find them:

·      Contact some of the major ticket agencies, e.g. Ticketmaster, to see if they have packages to donate

·      Utilise third party providers, again, being mindful that costs may apply

Direct Donations

Direct donations are one of the most popular ‘items’ for people to bid on at an online silent auction.   Fundraising organizers will often include specific cause related projects, equipment or resource in their auction. For example, if you’re running a school fundraiser you may include new library books as an item on your auction. Bidders compete to raise the most money for that particular item.

Another popular donation item simply encourages bidders to make the highest single donation to the cause. This can generate huge excitement as bidders outdo each other (all in good spirits) to claim the status as most generous donor!


Here are a few quick tips on maximising your chances of securing prize item donations for your online silent auction:

1.     Aim High: don’t be afraid to ask for seriously high value items or experiences, you might be surprised at the positive response!  Organisations will generally be keen to support charity fundraisers, so if they can’t donate exactly what you’re looking for they still might help with alternative prize options.

2.     Use your networks: as previously mentioned, putting a call out for donations to your friend, family and even co-worker networks can yield some great results. Chances are there’ll be a plenty of people who own businesses, or who are connected to businesses, that will be willing to donate prize items.

3.     Tell your story: whether you’re doing the asking yourself, or you have a number of volunteers helping you, make sure whoever is making the item request is enthusiastic about the cause and can talk about its importance.

4.     Say thank-you: make sure you thank your donors! It’s not just polite to do so, a big incentive for organizations to donate is to receive positive shout-outs across social media and in fundraising communications. Use your channels to say thanks and encourage people to support their business.

Ready to start your fundraising adventure? Let’s go!

About GalaBid

Ideal for donations. Perfect for Raffles. Awesome for Live and Silent Auctions! GalaBid’s online fundraising platform is designed for fundraisers of all types and sizes. For over 10 years we’ve been helping non-profits, charities, community clubs, churches, schools, and individuals to raise more and make a difference.

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