Silent auctions are classic nonprofit fundraisers—and with good reason. Nearly any organization can hold a silent auction either in-person or virtually, and they pair well with many other fundraising events, from galas to golf tournaments. As participants bid on their favorite items, they foster a fun, competitive environment while raising funds for your mission.

To make the most of your silent auction, you’ll need to plan strategically, and one of the most critical aspects of your planning process will be procuring the right auction items. In this guide, you’ll find more than 150 silent auction ideas to help your item procurement team get started, including:

Keep in mind that the best charity auction prizes are unique, i.e., not easy to find in retail stores. Also, make sure the item categories you feature and the range of price points align with the supporter segments you most want to attract to your event. Let’s dive in!

Procure high-value, one-of-a-kind nonprofit silent auction items through Winspire. Contact Us.

Travel and Experience-Based Silent Auction Items

A tropical beach with palm trees and a view of a sailboat in the ocean near the horizon.

Travel-related items are typically best-sellers in silent auctions. They appeal to a broad audience, add a unique element to your auction experience, and often bring in the largest bids among your prizes!

Consider procuring a few big-ticket vacation packages and some smaller travel accessories so all of your auction participants can bid on the items that fit their budget. You might also encourage supporters to buy several travel items, such as a trip and something they can use when taking that trip. For example, you may offer a beach getaway and a set of surfboards as separate items or place a luggage set next to a voucher for plane tickets.

Some of our top ideas for travel auction items include:

  • Luxury hotel stay
  • All-inclusive tropical resort getaway
  • Cruise with ports of call at popular destinations
  • Sightseeing tour of a major international city
  • Airline gift certificate
  • Winery tour and tasting
  • Ski chalet stay with mountain passes
  • Tour of several major national parks
  • Beach or lake house rental
  • One-week timeshare
  • Hot air balloon ride
  • Helicopter ride
  • Pet-sitting services or boarding
  • High-quality luggage

While you’ll likely be able to collect the physical items on this list through in-kind donations, procuring the experiences can be more challenging. This is where consignment travel providers like Winspire come in.

Explore Travel Auction Items With Winspire

Winspire provides unique, curated charity vacation packages to nonprofits across North America to use as prizes for fundraising auctions and raffles. Your organization can get started with Winspire in four easy steps:

A list of four steps your nonprofit can take to procure silent auction items with Winspire, which are discussed in more detail below.

  1. Choose from Winspire’s list of vacation packages, or Experiences, based on what you think will appeal most to your supporters.
  2. Promote these Experiences to your supporters. Winspire will provide relevant photos for each vacation package that you can use in your event marketing materials.
  3. Offer the items at your event with no risk, because you only pay for what you sell at your event.
  4. Provide a voucher to each winning bidder so they can book their vacation through Winspire—there is no additional work required for your nonprofit!

When you sell our Experiences at your silent auction, every dollar you raise above the Nonprofit Cost (list price) goes directly to your organization, allowing you to easily maximize your event revenue. Since Winspire’s founding in 2008, we’ve helped our nonprofit clients raise more than $110 million for their missions!

Draw even more inspiration from Winspire’s list of 400+ auction item ideas. Download for Free.

Community Spotlight Silent Auction Item Ideas

A person walking through a local store carrying several colorful shopping bags.

Experiential auction items cater to faraway locations with wide appeal, but you can also look to your local community for valuable, enticing silent auction ideas. Reach out to corporate sponsors in your area to procure items such as:

  • Dinner with the mayor or a city council member
  • A tour of your city’s historic sites and museums
  • Tickets and backstage passes to a performance by a local theatre or dance company
  • Private, behind-the-scenes tours of businesses or factories in the area
  • Sponsorship of a park bench with the supporter’s name on it
  • Passes for classes at a community recreation center
  • A year of oil changes at a local car dealership
  • Certified mechanic work for auto repairs or detailing
  • Landscaping services for your home or business
  • Certificates for home improvement or repairs
  • Car washes once a month for a year at a community car wash
  • Massages, facials, or other services at a spa
  • Full-service mani-pedi at a local nail salon
  • Dry cleaning services for a year
  • Monthly flower deliveries from a local florist

Procuring community spotlight items like these for your silent auction benefits both your nonprofit and the local businesses that provide the items. These businesses receive publicity during your event, and your organization can form lasting partnerships with them while bringing in revenue at the same time.

Food and Beverage Silent Auction Items

Wine bottles lined up on a shelf in a store.

In addition to highlighting your nonprofit’s community through experiences and services, you can also showcase the food and beverages unique to your area at your silent auction. As your supporters likely have different food and beverage preferences, make sure to have a variety of options available, such as:

  • Four-course dinner at a high-end restaurant
  • Weekend brunch with friends
  • Cooking classes taught by a local chef
  • Meal at a themed restaurant (medieval times, pirates, etc.)
  • Pizza delivery each month for a year
  • Catered workplace breakfast or lunch
  • Custom birthday cake from a local bakery
  • Private wine or beer tastings
  • Vintage or rare bottles of wine
  • Local beer or micro-brew samplers
  • Behind-the-scenes brewery tour
  • Bar or pub crawl
  • Tour of local food trucks
  • Afternoon tea at a park or botanical garden
  • Tea or coffee samplers
  • Gourmet chocolate boxes
  • Assortment of locally made candy
  • A year’s supply of coffee from a popular coffee shop

Whether they involve learning a new skill, trying unique foods, or just sharing a drink with friends, food and beverage items are often favorites among auction participants. Plus, supporters who don’t want to bring additional permanent items into their homes often prefer prizes that are either experience-based or consumable.

Sports and Fitness Silent Auction Ideas

A photo, signed football, and plaque from a football exhibition.

Part of the appeal of many sports is that they rally a community together around a common goal. Some auction participants may want to attend athletic events or own items related to their favorite sport, while others might prefer new ways to be physically active themselves. Either way, you can attract this segment of your organization’s supporters with items like:

  • Signed memorabilia like jerseys, balls, equipment, and helmets
  • Season tickets for nearby college or professional teams
  • Tickets to major national or international sporting events, such as the Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup, or Olympics
  • Passes to sports halls of fame around the country
  • Signed, framed photos of famous sports personalities
  • Rare baseball cards
  • Golf clubs and apparel
  • Opportunity to sit in on a local sports radio show
  • Behind-the-scenes tour of a sports network’s studio
  • Catered tailgate party before a high school or college football game
  • Pro lessons for any sport
  • Driveway basketball hoop and basketballs
  • Lawn games such as cornhole, spike ball, or ladder ball
  • Tee time at a luxury golf course
  • A year’s membership at a gym, pool, or rec center
  • Passes to group fitness classes like yoga, Pilates, or Zumba
  • Personal training sessions
  • Gift certificates for popular athletic apparel brands

Which sports and fitness items you procure will depend on which teams and activities are most popular in your area. Consider the professional teams based closest to your organization, the sports that nearby universities excel in, and the facilities located in your area that you could partner with to find auction items.

Music and Entertainment Silent Auction Item Ideas

A group of excited music fans at a concert.

There is something for everyone in the world of music and entertainment. Choose silent auction items in this category based on current trends and your supporters’ preferences, including:

  • Highly sought-after concert tickets
  • Musical instruments signed by famous musicians
  • Exclusive CD or vinyl editions of popular albums
  • Professional DJ services for a party, wedding, or other event
  • Season tickets at a local performing arts center
  • Front-row seats for a performance by your city’s symphony orchestra
  • Tickets to new or popular Broadway shows
  • Posters, playbills, or props signed by the original cast of a Broadway musical
  • Seats at a live taping of a reality, game, or talk show
  • Behind-the-scenes tours of movie sets or TV studios
  • Musical instrument or voice lessons
  • Tickets to a major film festival
  • Attendance at a movie premiere
  • Red carpet award show passes
  • Tickets to a comedy or improv show
  • Ballroom dancing lessons

Tickets to popular entertainment events are often hard to come by, so these kinds of silent auction items tend to bring in a lot of revenue. Research which artists will be in town soon and when tickets are available for stage performances to ensure your items are up-to-date.

Family-Friendly Silent Auction Items

A dad playing guitar outside for his two young children and their mom.

If your donor base includes families, it’s ideal to feature some family-friendly auction items. From young parents to grandparents, everyone is looking for ways to make new memories and enjoy quality time with family. To appeal to these supporters, you could offer:

  • Child care at a local daycare
  • Family photo shoot with a professional photographer
  • Family painting by a local artist
  • Children’s room design by a professional decorator
  • Backyard swing set or jungle gym
  • After-school gymnastics or dance classes
  • Tickets to amusement parks or water parks
  • Season passes to community pools
  • Membership at a children’s museum
  • Visit to a local zoo or aquarium
  • Birthday visit from a performer dressed as a popular character
  • Book reading with a favorite children’s book author
  • Group outing for laser tag or go-karting
  • Passes to a mini golf course or trampoline park
  • Roller skating or ice skating sessions
  • Games and shoe rentals at a bowling alley
  • Kid-friendly craft sets or science kits
  • Popular, high-value toys like Lego sets or American Girl Dolls
  • “Take Your Child to Work Day” experiences
  • Inflatable rentals for parties

Family-friendly auction items help engage supporters of all ages in your nonprofit’s mission—not only the adults who bid on the prizes, but also the children who benefit from their parents’ winnings. Make sure you don’t leave out any key demographics as you plan fundraising events by offering something for everyone.

Education-Focused Silent Auction Item Ideas

Elementary school students sitting in a classroom listening to their teacher.

Education and classroom-related silent auction items are the perfect addition to a school fundraiser. Even if you’re not hosting a school auction, remember that many parents are looking for new ways to enrich their children’s education in and out of the classroom. Consider partnering with a local school to offer items like:

  • One year of a reserved prime parking spot (for parents or high school students)
  • Ride to or from school in a fire truck
  • Lunch with the principal
  • Reserved seats for graduation ceremonies
  • Front-row seats at a school play or sporting event
  • Class party including snacks, games, and prizes
  • Catered breakfast or lunch for child’s class

These one-of-a-kind items related to education appeal provide a great way to make the youngest members of your community aware of your organization and its mission. To get students even more involved, ask teachers to help explain the auction’s purpose and why students are receiving these fun experiences in a way they’ll understand.

Seasonal and Holiday Silent Auction Items

A gingerbread cookie in a mug of hot chocolate with other cookies and Christmas decorations scattered around.

Theming some of your silent auction items around upcoming holidays or the current season can generate higher bids since they appear very relevant and stir up excitement for the time of year. Some popular options include:

  • Santa Claus or Easter Bunny visit to your workplace or child’s school
  • St. Patrick’s Day dinner at an Irish restaurant
  • Valentine’s Day romantic dinner for two
  • Full Thanksgiving turkey dinner for a family
  • Prime viewing spot for July 4th fireworks
  • A spot on the main float in a city holiday parade
  • Limo ride to view holiday light displays
  • Tickets to a Christmas-themed show like The Nutcracker, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, or a holiday concert by a popular artist
  • Skiing and snowboarding equipment and lessons
  • A week of summer day camp or overnight camp
  • Water sports equipment such as surfboards, kayaks, or water skis

Consider what seasons or holidays are coming up soon as you choose your auction items. For example, if your auction is in the fall, you might look ahead to the holiday season in December, while an early spring auction would lend itself to preparation for the summer.

Technology Silent Auction Item Ideas

Top view of a person’s desk with a laptop, tablet, and smartphone laid out on it, among other things.

Featuring the latest technology can help attract younger participants to your silent auction. Try offering a variety of big-ticket devices and add-ons to get more bids, such as:

  • New smartphones
  • Tablets or e-readers
  • 4K/Smart TVs
  • Computers or laptops
  • Smart watches
  • Fitness trackers
  • Video game systems, controllers, and games
  • Bluetooth headphones and speakers
  • High-quality digital cameras
  • Record players
  • Annual subscriptions for TV/movie or music streaming services

Although many of these items can be found at regular stores, they retail for high prices. Supporters will likely be interested in getting them at a slightly lower price at auction, but they’ll still make significant bids if the items are brand-new.

High-End Goods for Silent Auctions

Three designer purses and a pair of high heels in a store.

Technological devices aren’t the only luxury items that sell well at silent auctions. Although high-end home goods, personal items, and appliances are more subject to personal preferences than other auction items, chances are they’ll line up with some supporters’ wants, and they also make great gifts if participants would rather purchase them for someone else. Items that offer this kind of flexibility include:

  • Designer handbags
  • Jewelry
  • Gift certificate for a designer clothing brand or store
  • Paintings or sculptures
  • Antique or locally made furniture
  • Crystal dishes, vases, or stemware
  • High-end kitchen appliances like blenders, espresso machines, and air fryers
  • Snow blowers or lawn mowers

Your organization could also partner with the retailers that sell these high-end goods to provide an experience along with the item, such as a cooking lesson that uses the kitchen appliance a supporter purchased. Doing so gives the item a higher starting value and makes it more unique.

Silent Auction Gift Basket Ideas

A gift basket containing several wrapped packages and a bottle of wine.

Gift baskets are a silent auction staple! The lower the value of an auction item, the easier it is to procure in most cases. By putting several low-value items together in a basket, you can raise the overall value of even the most commonplace items to bring in high starting bids.

Center each of your baskets on a theme to catch participants’ attention, such as:

  • Spa Day: facial masks, bath bombs, scented lotion, neck massager
  • Movie Night: popcorn, boxed candy, throw blanket, movie theater gift card
  • Beach Party: beach towels, sand toys, sunglasses, sunscreen, tropical beverages
  • Wine and Cheese: assorted cheeses and meats, charcuterie board, high-end wine
  • Home Chef Starter Kit: baking pans, kitchen utensils, cooking oils, spices
  • Campfire: s’mores supplies, unique camping gear, campground pass
  • Game Night: assorted board games, cards, and video games
  • Aspiring Artist: paints, paintbrushes, palettes, canvases, sketchbook, colored pencils
  • New Baby Needs: baby bottles, diapers, blankets, bibs, pacifiers
  • Pamper Your Pet: toys, beds, treats, grooming gift certificate, pet-specific supplies (e.g., leashes for dogs or scratching posts for cats)
  • Garden in a Box: gardening gloves, seeds, pots, succulents, spade, watering can
  • Makeup Essentials: eyeshadow palettes, lipsticks, mascara, blush/bronzer, personal makeup consultation
  • Airport Must-Haves: neck pillow, earbuds, luggage tag, portable charger, TSA-approved containers for travel toiletries
  • Road Trip Ready: car trunk organizer, cooler, travel snacks, car phone charger, car games, gas station gift card

As you create each basket, make sure to package it in a way that looks as appealing to auction participants as possible. Also, include a listing of all items included in each basket to ensure supporters know exactly what they’re bidding on.

Wrapping Up: Additional Resources on Silent Auction Items

No matter which silent auction items you offer at your event, the key is to understand participants’ preferences. Consider surveying some loyal supporters in your target demographic(s) to see what item ideas appeal most to them. Then, lay out a plan for which items you’ll feature and how you’ll procure them by asking for individual donations, partnering with businesses in your community, and seeking out dedicated auction item providers. Happy fundraising!

For more information on silent auctions, check out these additional resources:

Bucket-List, No-Risk Auction Travel Packages. See how Winspire has helped nonprofits raise 0M+ for their missions. Contact Us.