The Ultimate Silent Auction Bid Sheet Guide + Free Template

We’ll cover everything you need to know about silent auction bid sheets, plus we’ll provide an overview of how to use them on the auction day itself.
Do you need silent auction bid sheets for your next event? Download our free template and learn the basics of bid sheets and all things silent auctions.
Do you need silent auction bid sheets for your next event? Download our free template and learn the basics of bid sheets and all things silent auctions.

🤫⏳💸Do you need silent auction bid sheets for your next event?

Download our free template and learn the basics of bid sheets and all things silent auctions.

Silent auctions, whether in-person or online, are known for generating funds for nonprofits and providing donors with an engaging experience—as well as something tangible to take home with them.

There are plenty of reasons to choose a silent auction as your next fundraiser, from building a sense of community among supporters to promoting local businesses. However, silent auctions require extensive planning. You need to organize the event space, procure the items guests will bid on, and create a silent auction bid sheet for each item at the auction.

If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. We’ll cover everything you need to know about silent auction bid sheets, plus we’ll provide an overview of how to use them on the auction day itself. We’ll cover each of these topics in detail:


Bid sheets aren’t overly complicated, but they contain a lot of important information. Let’s explore the basics to ensure your bidding sheets represent your nonprofit in the best way possible.

What is a Silent Auction Bid Sheet?

A silent auction bid sheet details information about each auction item and provides space for bidders to list their names and bid amounts. 

Organizers use bid sheets to track auction progress and determine the highest bidder who wins each item at the end of the event. Bid sheets also allow event staff to close out items at any point during the auction once bids reach a certain point. These bidding sheets have an influence on how much attendees decide to bid, so put thought into how you design them.

 

Free Silent Auction Bid Sheet Template

To simplify your auction planning, we’ve put together a one-size-fits-all solution that you can use to easily fill in information about each of your auction items. Download a printable PDF of our free bid sheet template here.

Silent Auction Bid Sheet Ideas

Using  our template as a reference, let’s explore how you can create your own silent auction bid sheet, equipped with customizable form fields and auction item information.  

What to Include in a Bid Sheet

During a silent charity auction, don’t distract from the bidding by spending too much time making announcements or answering guest questions. To avoid confusion, label everything on your bid sheets clearly.

If you decide to modify our template or create your own brand new bid sheet, these are the fields you need to include:

  • Item name and information: The name of the item should be clearly listed at the top of the bidding sheet. Below, include a short description of the item, its retail value, the item number, and who donated it. Including the name of the person or business that donated each item gives them not only recognition for their donation, but also valuable promotion for their business. 
  • Starting bid: You can list the starting bid with the other item information at the top of the bid sheet, but we recommend placing it in the first line of the table with bidder names and amounts. This will make it more obvious for attendees and prevent them from accidentally bidding too low. 
  • Minimum raise: Each new bid must be higher than the last by a minimum number of dollars. The minimum raise will be different depending on each item’s value, so be sure to label this number clearly. 
  • Guaranteed purchase price: Also known as the “buy now” price, this is the bid amount that can end all bidding for an item immediately. To determine the guaranteed purchase price, multiply the retail value by 150 to 200%. 
  • Space for bidder names, bid amounts, and contact information: The number of rows will depend on the size of your event, but we recommend leaving at least 10 blank rows. Asking for a phone number or email address ensures that you can reach the winning bidder even if they leave the event early.

 

Ensure that these fields are organized and labeled with clear directions, and use a readable, appropriately sized font. 


Silent Auction Bid Sheet Best Practices
 

With all the necessary fields on your bid sheet, there’s still more you can do to make them work in your organization’s favor. Follow these best practices to use your silent auction bid sheets effectively: 

  • Brand your bid sheet to your organization. Include your organization’s name and logo at the top of every bid sheet. If making your own template, align your bid sheet with your nonprofit’s branding. Use the same fonts and colors you use across your regular communications, so that  your bid sheets remind donors of the cause that they’re supporting. 
  • Make minimum raises at least 10%. To drive higher bids and more donations for your nonprofit, make each item’s minimum raise 10% to 15% of its retail value. That way, bidders can’t outbid someone else by bidding just five more dollars.
  • Consider color coding your bid sheets. You can color code bid sheets for groups of related items so that guests will be able to find other items they’re interested in easily. Or, you can color code items and bid sheets based on retail value. With this system, attendees can focus on the items in their preferred price range. 
  • Provide an option for anonymity. If you want bidders to have the option to stay anonymous, leave blanks only for bidder numbers, instead of names and contact information. For the process to work correctly, however, your volunteers need to be diligent about assigning every attendee a number and collecting contact information as guests arrive.

 

Once you’ve filled out a bid sheet for each of your items, create labels or name cards to place next to the items on display at the event. These should match the item names exactly as they’re listed on the bid sheets. 

Jumpstart your next auction with Snowball.

Download our free silent auction bid sheet template.

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Online silent auctions work the same way as in-person silent auctions.

Virtual Silent Auction Bid Sheets

What if you’re hosting a fully virtual auction? Do you still need to create bid sheets for your items? The answer is yes! 

Online silent auctions work the same way as in-person silent auctions. The only difference is that instead of walking around a venue to see items and write bids on physical bid sheets, guests view and bid on everything online! 

Using an online auction platform, you’ll set up a virtual catalog of items that attendees can peruse from their phones or computers. As they bid, the website will track bidding progress and update automatically with the current highest bidder.  This catalog is where you’ll create your virtual bid sheets.

 

How to Create Virtual Bid Sheets

To create bid sheets for virtual auctions, your organization first needs to choose a charity auction website that offers online and mobile bidding features. Your auction software should include virtual bid sheets that you can easily customize with item information.

Snowball’s auction software sets you up with clear, intuitive virtual bid sheets with plenty of customization options. For each item, add up to five photos and the item description. Then, add all of the same information you’d put on a physical bid sheet, such as the name of the donor, the starting bid amount, and guaranteed purchase price. You can even place items into categories so guests can find items more easily.

Here’s an example of what your virtual bid sheet might look like using Snowball’s online auction platform:

 

The Snowball auction software and mobile bidding app give you the freedom

 

How Guests Use Virtual Bid Sheets

Virtual silent auctions offer a straightforward, engaging experience for guests and a much easier auction process for organizers. Once your nonprofit has prepared its  virtual catalog with information about each item, guests can begin bidding! This bidding can take place at a certain date and time just like an in-person auction, or you can set a more open-ended run time, such as multiple days or even weeks. 

When guests are ready to bid, here’s how they can use their bid sheets: :

  1. Guests explore your catalog of virtual bid sheets. 
  2. Bidding starts! Attendees can bid online or using Text-to-Bid.
  3. Your auction website updates automatically and notifies bidders via email or text if another guest outbids them.
  4. At the close of the auction, winners are notified virtually and make their donation through a secure online payment portal.

 

If your nonprofit doesn’t want to go fully virtual, but you still want the ease of online auction functionality and the benefits of mobile giving, consider implementing a Text-to-Bid element to your in-person auction! Give guests the option to write down their bids on bid sheets or text in their bid at any time. Just remember to have volunteers update their physical bid sheets with the highest bid so everyone remains on the same page.

Online silent auctions work the same way as in-person silent auctions.

How to Bid on Silent Auction Sheets

Unlike live auctions where guests bid using hand signals and an auctioneer keeps track of the highest bidder, in a silent auction, your bid sheets do all the work. We’ve broken the process down into what both bidders and organizers need to do with silent auction bid sheets during the event. For Bidders

Send out plenty of promotional materials in the weeks leading up to your auction to create excitement. Consider announcing a few of your biggest auction items early, so that donors come in prepared to bid. When the day arrives, here’s what the silent auction will look like for your attendees:

  1. Arrive at the auction, register, and get a number from the organizers.
  2. Walk around the space to peruse items, and start making decisions about what items to bid on.
  3. Write their name, number, and bid amount on each chosen item’s bid sheet.
  4. Check the status of items throughout the auction by looking at bid sheets. 
  5. If a guest sees that someone outbids them, they can bid higher! Increase bids by writing a new entry on the bid sheet.
  6. See if they won! At the end of the auction, guests make donations for any items that they won and take home the prize.

In case any of your guests are attending an auction for the first time, include information about how the process works in your promotional materials. For example, you could create a set of branded social media graphics that explain each of these steps and post them on your organization’s Instagram page. This way, you’ll promote your event and help your supporters feel prepared at the same time.

For Organizers

Before the big day, your biggest priority as an organizer is acquiring auction items that your donors will want to bid on. If you fill out a bid sheet for each item when you receive it, the set-up process will be much easier on the day of the auction itself. 

Here are the steps you need to take on the auction day to ensure your event runs smoothly: 

  1. Set up: Arrange your items in an organized way throughout the event space, being careful not to crowd them together. Label each of the items and place the corresponding bid sheets nearby. Be sure to set out plenty of pens!
  2. Register guests: You’ll need plenty of volunteers to run your auction successfully. One of their most important roles during the event is to collect guests’ contact information as they arrive and assign them their bidder numbers. You’ll need this information to be organized and easily accessible when you distribute items at the end of the auction.
  3. Make announcements: Communicate start and end times at the beginning of the event so everyone knows what to expect. Then, announce the remaining time periodically throughout the night.
  4. Monitor bidding progress: Volunteers should walk the floor of the auction and check bid sheets to see each item’s progress. If anyone bids an item’s guaranteed purchase price, close out the item and note the winner immediately. 
  5. Determine and announce winners: Once the time for bidding ends, collect all of your bid sheets and determine the highest bidder for each item. Then announce the winners! Don’t forget to also let attendees know the total funds raised for your campaign. This is a great moment to remind them of your organization’s mission and what goals their donations will help you achieve.
  6. Collect donations and distribute items: Call the winners up individually to process payments and hand out their prizes.
  7. Thank your donors! Lastly, thank each and every attendee for participating in the auction and donating to your cause. 

 

In the weeks and months after your silent auction, don’t forget to evaluate your success and brainstorm ways you can make your next auction even better. 

Do you need silent auction bid sheets for your next event? Download our free template and learn the basics of bid sheets and all things silent auctions.

🤫⏳💸 We have everything you need to launch your next silent auction.

Start by downloading our free bid sheet template.

Final Thoughts

Now that you understand the basics of silent auction bid sheets, you have everything you need to host a successful silent auction, whether virtual, hybrid, or in-person! Check out these additional resources to expand your knowledge of general auction best practices:

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Get in touch with us to take a tour of the Snowball platform and find the right fundraising solutions for your nonprofit.

Get in touch with us to take a tour of the Snowball platform and find the right fundraising solutions for your nonprofit.