Auction Bidding Tips at a Silent Auction

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Exciting goodies can be found at silent auction fundraisers, from celebrity autographed collectibles to a gift basket brimming with "evening-for-two" treats or a bottle of fine wine. So how do you manage to walk away from your next charity event's silent auction a winner?

Eyes on the Prize

Cruise and choose: stroll the display and consider the items you find most enticing. Be selective, settling on a few items of interest on two lists: "Preferred" and "Likely." Designate first, second and third preferences on each list. Unless you are determined to win at any cost, decide your highest bid range, both for the benefit of the charity and your own enjoyment.

Stay alert and bide your time while others make the first several bids. How popular are your choices? How fast are the bids rising? If the bids quickly soar beyond your maximum on "Preferred" choices, you'll need to make a decision: continue to bid at any cost or concentrate on your "Likely" list.

Try team tactics. Teaming with another guest may benefit both of you. Check the bid sheets for the name of someone bidding on items different from yours. Share a drink and your lists with each other. Using spirited teamwork, you and your partner keep low profiles and watchful eyes on bidding activity for each other's preferred items.

Play Fair

If the event does not provide a written list of rules and procedures, make it your own rule to practice courtesy, never forgetting the charitable purpose of the event. This is never a time or place to become ruthless or overly aggressive in order to gain the prize. Nicki Heskin's article "Silent Auction Rules and Guidelines" offers tips for bidding behavior that include never moving or relocating merchandise items, never altering another person's bid in any way and understanding your obligation to carry out the purchase if yours is the final winning bid.

Wrap Up the Win . . . or Not

The deadline for final bidding will likely be preceded by an announcement for the final 10 or 15 minutes. Now, timing is everything. Without appearing too eager, remain close enough to swoop in and pen that last winning bid. However, there is always the possibility another expert is in the room who has better timing for that final-seconds swoop.

Win or lose, there will be other events, future silent auctions and opportunities to perfect your skills. Above all, enjoy the "game," remembering that the charity--the beneficiaries of the proceeds--must always be the ultimate winners.