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How Does A Silent Auction Work?

Feb 29, 2008
Silent auctions are a way of disposing of auction items without employing the services of an auctioneer one of the main reasons silent auctions are popular as charity and organizational fundraisers. Here is how it works.

The items to be auctioned are put on display. For example, a chamber of commerce may have solicited goods and services from people in the community for sale at an annual chamber banquet or other event. If you are interested, you simply browse through the offerings. Find something you like? Bidding is easy. You just pick up a pen and write down your name along with what you would pay for that item

The point is that you are not bidding in the dark like sealed bid auctions. In that case, you submit your bid in writing in a sealed envelope. The envelope is opened and the highest (or lowest, as the case may be) bidder is notified. But in silent auctions, you have the opportunity to see what someone else bid on a particular item. Often, you can even see who submitted that bid, though some silent auctions assign numbers for your bidding to ensure anonymity.

If you enjoy auctions, there are some real pros and some cons to silent auctions. One of the biggest pros is that there is no need to stand around and wait for the item you are interested in to come around a process that sometimes takes hours. Instead of waiting until the auctioneer comes to that item, you can just walk around and bid on whatever catches your eye.

If you think that the excitement of bidding against another bidder is absent from silent auctions, think again. The bidding can sometimes become fierce with several people guarding the item they are bidding on to watch for opposing bidders. When that happens, the people who are most interested in the item may get into a silent bidding war, just as in a traditional auction. One will barely wait for another to move before placing a new bid.

One negative of the silent auctions is that you have to watch an item you are interested in. Typically, there will be a notice that the auction is about to draw to a close so that you have one last chance to check the status of your bids, and to make one last bid.

Another negative is that it is more difficult to make small increment bids that really count. The best way to scare off other bidders and potential bidders is to simply make a large jump in your bid amount.

Silent auctions can be a good way to raise money, and can be incredibly fun for the bidder.
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