Hot Live Benefit Auction Items 2019

Maximize your ROI by focusing on best-selling live auction items

We’re calling 2019 the Year of the Experience! Nearly all live auction items that sold consistently well this year at benefit auctions involved travel. Other notable top-selling items were all about the experience – sports packages, foodie packages, farm-to-table dinners, curated experiences marrying mission and novelty. Read on for fab ideas on where to invest your time and energy, while procuring live auction items for your fundraising event.

Rediscover Local Gems!

Select destinations within a 2-3 hour drive of your market. For us Pacific Northwest residents, who doesn’t love the majestic Oregon Coast? Coastal trips – Gearhart, Manzanita, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City – were very popular this year, especially when combined with little (or not so little!) perks to enhance the stay like dinners, barbecue supplies, local trips/excursions, walking tours and recreation activities – kayaking, paddleboarding, hiking…the sky’s the limit! Out of all the coast trips, the top sellers were extended stays – 5-7 days – and targeted towards larger groups – homes able to accomodate 7-10+.

A Short Plane Ride from Home

Farther from home, select novel or specialty destinations catered to your demorgraphic’s preferences. Consider the price and availability of airfare and work to keep excitement high with additional costs low.  On the west coast, a trip to Disneyland is pretty much always a slam-dunk, especially when combined with airfare, passes, lodging, food vouchers, all those appealing perks that make folks think, “

Wow, piece of cake – if I buy this now, I won’t spend a ton of time planning!” Win. Win. 

International Travel Experiences

Farther from home still – international travel. While we noticed a slight trend away from international travel in 2018, that tide may be shifting. This past year, trips to Quebec, Iceland, Italy, Honduras, South Africa, France, Bali and Thailand were all big sellers – when put in front of the right crowd, that is.

Curated Experiences

Popular experiences that didn’t involve travel – foodie packages did very well in 2019, and so did farm-to-table dinners. Winery tours, especially custom ones, sell well year after year. Throw in transportation, food and lodging and you’ll make even more money, as the buyer’s perceived value of said package increases.

 Another experience that consistently sells well in most every market – professional sporting events. In Portland, build live auction packages around tickets to Trail Blazers or Timbers/Thorns games and watch your revenue soar. RIP CITY! TIMBERS ARMY!  

Collectibles + Music Memorabilia

You’ll always have collectors; consequently, packages including music memorabilia and sports collectibles are big sellers if you do have collectors in the room. Always consider the folks in your crowd and acquire items based on what you know about them. This past year, for music lovers, Prince and Tom Petty topped the list for the memorabilia everyone wanted to get their hands on.

Know your Audience

Shooting experiences are hot these days in areas like Texas. Do you or anyone on your procurement team know any military heroes, who might be willing to spend an afternoon with a buyer at a gun range? One of our fundraising friends in Texas crushed it with a shooting experience with Marcus Luttrell – a former US Navy Seal who received the Navy Cross and Purple Heart. 

Meanwhile, anything Colin Kaepernick was HOT HOT HOT, particularly in progressive Northern California. A photo of Stormy Daniels posing with President Trump was a big hit in that market as well. But remember, ALWAYS consider who you are selling to and create custom packages they’ll want to go home with. 

Specialty Professional Services

Now, let’s talk about an experience that guys may not be lining up for – but one that can sell well in front of the right crowd. Vasectomies! We’ve learned that vasectomies can sell very well – again, we can’t stress this enough – IF you have the right crowd. Consider adding an element of humor – say, sell the procedure along with a bag of frozen peas, a bottle of whiskey, a jock strap, and a television remote. Again, it’s not right for every crowd, but potentially it can be fun, amusing AND lucrative. 

Experiences Instead of Effects

So this year when you turn your attention to procuring fabulous live auction items, think of selling experiences as opposed to tangible things. Need more info on how to curate and arrange a travel experience? Reach out – we may be able to hook you up! We work closely with loads of travel companies, offering both high-end, international trips AND smaller, closer, more affordable ones for every price point.

Here’s to your next successful benefit auction!