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Today we will continue to explore some of the common bid-sheet choices that auction chairs hold diverging opinions on, and present the arguments from each side of the fence. Please feel free to contribute your opinions in the comments section below. And if this discussion is useful to you, you can sign up to be notified every time I put up a new installment in this series by signing up with the form on the left.

Choice#3: Should we use a Buy It Now price? If so, how much should it be?

When you put a Buy It Now price on a bid sheet, you let your guests decide to stop the bidding process on that item and claim it for their own - for a premium. It works well when a) you know you will have bidders interested in the item at your auction, and b) there is sufficient bid pressure with your silent auction items - the sense among your guests that they need to keep a close eye on items they want and bid frequently. The best way to create bid pressure is to keep the ratio of silent auction items to guests low - 40-60% is a pretty good rule of thumb.

So what should the Buy It Now price be? My standard answer is 150% of the item’s Fair Market Value, but I see 200% at auctions frequently.

All of the above is, of course, in the service of maximizing the money raised at the event. Many school auctions, however, are a delicate balancing act - they are a social event as much as a fundraiser. If you are concerned that most of your guests need to have a “fair chance” to win something, then Buy It Now should be used very sparingly - nothing makes a “bargain hunter” unhappier than seeing no bids on the sheet for an item they want - except for an entry in the Buy It Now line.

If you are using to generate the bid sheets for your silent auction, you can add a Buy It Now price to the bid sheet for an item by entering the price in the appropriate box on the Item Edit screen. Leave the box blank, and you won’t get a Buy It Now line on the bid sheet.


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