Tips for Auctioning Off Designer Items for a Charity

One of the never-ending responsibilities of charitable institutions is to raise funds. This is crucial in keeping operations afloat. The financial si

One of the never-ending responsibilities of charitable institutions is to raise funds. This is crucial in keeping operations afloat. The financial situation of the organization is key to most of its goals. And when it comes to fundraising, it needs to be a dynamic initiative; this means the funds cannot come from a single source. 

According to TheBalanceSMB.com, the best charitable institutions use diverse solutions for income in the same way investors make sure to put their money in a variety of investments. By doing so, should one source of income fail to generate enough funds for operations, other sources can easily make up for it. 

The most common methods for raising funds for charity are by organizing donation programs (finding committed patrons), selling special products, holding benefit concerts or sporting events, and staging auctions. Among such fundraisers, auctions often emerge as the most significant income generator. 

When it comes to auctioning items for a fundraising event, fundraising experts say you can’t go wrong with using designer items for the following reasons:

  • Wealthy donors do not mind parting with some of their designer clothing, bags, shoes, and jewelry.
  • There’s an established and eager market for designer items, and it’s a huge one. You have collectors, stylists, and even specialist clothing stores. Therefore, the items go out quite fast.
  • Bidding for designer items can reach soaring values, especially if the items are rare, vintage, or have been previously worn by important personalities.

If your organization is keen on holding a designer clothing auction, provided below are some of the best tips to follow for a successful fundraising event:

Tip #1: Hire a top auction company to help out.

To ensure the best success for an auction, you need a professional team to help out. People who specialize in offering all kinds of packages for auction experiences can provide you with some of the best ideas for streamlining the event. Likewise, they offer a myriad of services that can take care of many of the required tasks for the affair. Therefore, there’s no need for training or hiring more people to work at the auction.

A top auction company also has time-tested tips that you can implement for the event, such as deciding on the ideal day and time for an auction, displaying items, creating a description for silent auctions, and so much more.

Tip #2: Find a trendy venue.

This is a must, especially if you have a specific group of people in mind for the event. The venue plays a vital role in highlighting the value of the items that will be showcased or put on display. At the same time, the venue can reinforce the appeal of the event to the people invited.

Also, if you want the auction to be a fun, social affair, you may wish to provide other event attractions such as entertainment and catering. For these, you will need a more spacious venue to accommodate such features.

Tip #3: Deck the place out like a fashion show.

Designer items are best showcased like a collection for a fashion show. By doing so, bidders get a better perspective of the potential and true value of the items. You have to take into consideration that a lot of clothing items look much better worn by a person than just hanging off a mannequin. 

When decorating the venue for a fashion show, you will need a short runway and creative lighting. You may also want to add a bit of background music. Just make sure that it will be played quite softly so it would not be a distraction to the bidding that will take place.

Tip #4: Use slides as well.

Create a slide presentation to offer more information about the items up for bidding. The auctioneer may not be able to recite all of them, so it helps to provide bidders with information that they can read. A slide presentation is particularly helpful for rare vintage items with a certification of authenticity or that had been worn or were once part of the collection of famous personalities. The more accurate information you can provide, the better.

Auction professionals recommend presenting the information on the slides in a bullet point format and to use a large typeface for better visibility. Pictures of the items from a particular era, as well as information on when they were worn by someone famous, are worth including, too. These also serve as evidence of authenticity. 

Tip #5: Make it a special-invite event.

This is a smart marketing tactic because the exclusivity of an event makes it appear more important. You can expect certain people or groups to work their way into the invitation list. Also, special-invite events are usually guaranteed a higher attendance rate, which typically means stronger participation and excellent results.

It’s worth noting as well that making the auction an exclusive activity will allow you to narrow down the audience to the right people. This means you can make the bidding as beneficially competitive as possible.

Tip #6: Prepare refreshments.

Make the auction a truly social affair. Build people’s excitement over it by creating the right atmosphere and an interactive experience among attendees. The easiest way to do that is by offering refreshments and hors d’oeuvres.

For a designer clothing auction, make it fancy with wine and hors d’oeuvres served by uniformed attendants.

Tip #7: Make the auction available online.

Send out exclusive digital invites to the live stream of the auction. This is an effective way to involve more people who may be interested in the items. 

When you hold an exclusive auction, there might be people who cannot attend the live event but would still want to participate. Don’t let them miss the opportunity to take part. Quite often, it’s those people or groups that cannot personally attend the auction who make the auction more competitive and profitable.

These are some of the best tips for pulling off a successful designer fashion auction. Clearly, such an event entails a lot of detailed work as there are so many areas to cover. However, with all of the essentials laid out properly, you can be assured of a highly profitable auction as a fundraising event for your charitable organization.


Darran Brown is the CEO and Founder of Go Charity. A graduate of UMASS Amherst, Darran has spent the last 20 years managing auctions across the United States. Having run some of the most successful live and silent auctions in the US, Darran has the insider know-how to every aspect of the industry. From memorabilia to trips and experience hospitality to fundraising 101, Darran is the leading expert on auction management and fundraising success.