Charity Auctioneers use scripts to start bid wars and maximize bid prices

As experts in event fundraising, we always encourage those procuring auction items to think outside the box. Simply put, one-of-a-kind items that surprise and delight donors bring in the highest bids.

Experiential travel is a consistent best seller at auctions—think sold-out tickets to Broadway show Hamilton or 4 nights at an all-inclusive resort—but also incredibly tough to get donated.

Charity Auctioneer Danny HooperTo the rescue: offering no-risk trips on consignment. Reputable trip providers like Winspire take on the difficulty, time and risk of putting together and fulfilling packages of the highest caliber. Best of all, you don’t purchase the trip unless bidding reaches at least the minimum profitable price you set.

A very common question we get is how best to sell consigned items at a live auction. What’s the best way to explain consignment to bidders? How is our audience going to react? And how can we get the highest bids possible for each item?

A surefire way to maximize revenue on consigned items is to hire an auctioneer who specializes in charity auctions.

Read on to see how certified Benefit Auctioneer Specialist Danny Hooper engages the crowd and presents the minimum opening bid on consignment items. Consider sharing this handy script with your auctioneer as you strategize a game plan for your upcoming auction.

Auctioneer Script: How does charity auctioneer Danny Hooper sell live auction items multiple times?

Live Auction Charity Auctioneer Script

Ladies and gentlemen, would anybody here tonight like to take a holiday? By show of hands, how many of you are planning to take a vacation this year?

Wait for audience members to raise hands (most people will).

Well, have I got good news for you lucky folks! For tonight’s live auction, the Lakewood Rotary Club has acquired two amazing vacation packages from Winspire, the nation’s leading provider of unique travel experiences.

The first is a ‘dream-come-true’ for the lady in your life: a weekend shopping spree at Bloomingdale, plus a $1000 gift card and the services of a personal shopper. These assistants are at-the-ready to offer fashion advice and attend to your every shopping need.

The second experience is for the sports fans in the house this evening: the Ultimate Pro Sports Fan Getaway. Take a trip to see your home team play on the road or just get away for a sports adventure! You have the ability to pick the sports event you want to see, when you want to see it.

As always with Winspire travel packages, these complete experiences include airfare and deluxe hotel accommodations. Plus, the lucky winner here tonight will be working with an expert Winspire Travel Concierge to coordinate all the planning and the details for your trip!

Now let’s get started with the first package, the Bloomingdale’s Shopping Spree. This level of personal attention is priceless, and tonight the Lakewood Rotary Club has set a minimum opening bid at just $3900. Do I have $3900?

Bidding reaches $4500 and has slowed down to just 3 bidders. He pauses bidding.

Bidders, I have great news: I’ve been told we can sell this package multiple times. How would all 3 of you like to purchase this incredible trip for $4500?”

Most often all three will agree, which means you’ve now tripled your return!

Auctioneer Script: Explained

Here’s what Danny Hooper, renowned charity auctioneer and author of EASY MONEY – How to Generate Record Profits at Your Next Fundraising Auction Event, had to say about this script:

This script, in my mind, makes a lot of sense to the audience without having to explain ‘consignment’,

Instead I say the club has acquired two amazing vacation packages from Winspire. ‘Acquire’ implies there’s a cost, while defining consignment can raise questions and ultimately take the bidders’ focus away from the amazing items themselves.

In my experience, most guests don’t care if an item is fully donated or not. They understand this is a fundraising tool, just like the event itself is a tool that costs money but is designed to make a profit.

Beachside Bloomingdale's Shopping Spree

Bloomingdale’s Shopping Spree

$1,000 Shopping Spree with a Personal Shopper, Beauty Consultation, Champagne, 2‐Night Stay for 2 at Fairmont San Francisco

View package details →

Ultimate Pro Sports Fan Getaway

Ultimate Pro Sports Fan Getaway

Lower Level Tickets to Choice of a Select Regular Season MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL or PGA Event, 2-Night Weekend Stay with Airfare for 2

View package details →

Secondly, I clearly mention ‘the Rotary Club has set a minimum opening bid.’ With this wording, we’re not getting into a long discussion on stage about the base price of a package, needing to mark it up and so forth. Keep the focus on this great trip, and don’t slow down the auction and break up momentum. Instead, I quickly establish the minimum opening bid, and we’re ready to go.

Now, if nobody raises their hand at the opening bid, you can start the bidding at a lower price to get the momentum going. However, it’s important to make sure the audience knows the package will not be sold for less than the minimum opening bid.

Finally, unlike nearly all donated items, one of the biggest benefits of consignment items is the ability to sell packages to more than one bidder. The key is to avoid telling your guests that more than one auction package is available, because you want bidders to drive the price up.Charity Auctioneer starts bidding war

Here’s some basic tips to share with your charity auctioneer on selling multiples:

First, encourage excitement and active bidding on big-ticket items like Winspire Experiences. Once bidding approaches the reserve price and you have a handful of people still bidding, pay close attention. When two or three people are engaged in a bidding war above your minimum bid or reserve price, it’s a great opportunity to pause bidding and sell the package to all of them.

For example, if the third bidder drops out but the two bidders are still fighting for the win, let them continue bidding. Wait until the last bidder drops out, then offer the package to both. If the winning bid is only a few hundred dollars more than the third bidder’s final bid, consider reducing the price to the third bidder’s offer and sell to all three. The top two winning bidders will happily pay a reduced price, and all three will be excited to win the package.

For more on selling multiples before, during and after a (live, silent or even online!) auction, check out “The Insider Strategy that Triples Revenue from One Auction Item.”

Tips for working with your Auctioneer

When considering our script, keep in mind that every benefit auctioneer has his or her own style. Your auctioneer may prefer to tell guests a package is consigned prior to offering it at auction: “This particular package has a modest reserve, and my committee is allowing me to sell it slightly above cost.”

This is an equally effective approach as long as your auctioneer can explain it quickly and keep the evening’s momentum going.

For help finding a great auctioneer in your area, contact a Fundraising Specialist today. Our trusted auctioneer partners have years of experience maximizing revenue from consignment items.

You’ll also want to discuss with your auctioneer when to state the suggested retail value (SRV) of an item and when to skip it. A basic rule of thumb here is to highlight the retail value only if it makes the item seem more valuable.


For example, mentioning the SRV on subjective or unusual items (like art, backstage tours or parking passes) may help guests better appreciate the item; high SRVs with relatively low minimum bids also identify the item as a great value. On the other hand, omitting the SRV from extremely popular or in-demand items prevents bidders from creating a “glass ceiling” in their minds regarding the worth of an item, allowing bidding to go as high as possible.

Bottom line: The actual cost or value of the package has little to do with how much your guests are willing to pay for it! If your auctioneer understands this principle, you’re in great shape to fetch top dollar for every item in your live auction.