Pre-Register Your Auction Bidders


Thanks to for the photo! Remixed by Shari. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Share Alike Generic. Courtesy of Flickr.

Credit Cards

Thanks to Shawn Zrossi for the photo! Remixed by Shari. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. Courtesy of Flickr.

Recently my friends Jeanne and David attended a benefit live and silent auction combo. A friend gave them tickets and so they happily went to enjoy a good meal, wonderful company, and some wine. While Jeanne and I were taking our weekly walk around Lake Merritt, I quizzed her on all the juicy details of the event. I’m always looking for something new or interesting to report, along with some tips to improve the auction experience. Here’s a piece of the Spanish inquisition that ensued:

What did you win? A case of (surprise) wine.

Did you win it at the silent or live auction? The silent.

Is that the only item you bid on? No, but that was the only one that we went back to bid on a few times.

How was the live auction? Oh, I don’t know.The auctioneer’s voice was kind of annoying. We talked through the live auction.

How could you talk over the auctioneer? We were sitting at a table pretty far away. The venue was outside and it wasn’t hard to just keep talking while the live auction was going on. We didn’t want to be rude to our friends.

What didn’t you like about the auctioneer?  She was given this big introduction, but she just didn’t seem that excited about the auction. 

What was different about this auction event? It was really easy to bid. They took our credit cards when we arrived and gave us bidder numbers to use. That made the silent auction bidding easier and we could just pick up our item and leave quickly when we were ready to go.

What tips did I gather from this inquisition? Well…

Tip #1 – Try to make sure that everyone has to focus on the live auction. If the live auction will take place while everyone is still at their tables, make sure the auctioneer is loud enough to command attention.

Tip #2 – Take credit card numbers as people arrive and provide them with a bidder number. You are basically pre-registering your auction bidders. This spreads out the credit card processing for your volunteers. It makes people feel like they are ready to bid. It’s kind of like they already paid and can now just explore and pick up the items they want.

Tip #3 – Make sure your auctioneer is fun! This will entice people to listen. If they are being entertained at the same time they are bidding, they are more likely to want to pay attention. is Coming Soon – “Where Donors Find You!”

It’s time for an online solution that simplifies soliciting school auction donations. Finally, there’s a fun way for your auctions to grow –


Shari Morfin is a volunteer-addict, nonprofit executive, world traveler, photographer, web designer, artist, and beach lover. She has volunteered and worked at some of the smallest and largest nonprofits in the U.S. She has a Master’s of Public Administration degree with an emphasis in Nonprofit Management.

That’s one of my friends’ auction adventures. How about yours?

What tips have you learned from your friends’ auction experiences?

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