The Etiquette for an Invitation to a Silent Auction

by Kristin Lane

A silent auction is a great way to raise money for your organization or charity while gathering supporters and raising awareness at the same time. Since silent auctions generally coincide with another event, invitations to a silent auction need to let invitees know what is going on, how they are to dress, if they will be fed, what items and services are up for bidding and where the money is going. Depending on the formality of the event and the level of relationship you have with your guests, invitation format and delivery is modifiable.

Event Details

As with any invitation, the location, date (including day of the week) and time need to be clearly listed with correct spelling on the invite. An invitation to a silent auction should let guests know what is going on besides the auction. Whether that be a dinner, a dance, a rodeo, a mystery theater night or something completely unexpected, guests need to know what else will be going on while the auction is taking place. A general timeframe of events including when the actual bidding starts and stops should be included in list form.

Attire

When requiring formal attire for a formal event coinciding with a silent auction, it is generally accepted that "formal attire required" need not be stated on the invite. An invitation sets a mood for the event or party taking place. The quality of paper, the font used and the event details should clue a person in that they need to dress formally without having to read it in print. For less-formal events or formal-looking invitations that do not require formal attire, mentioning appropriate attire is okay. "Come as you are" or "dress in costume" are appropriate ways to let your guests know what is expected of them.

Donation or Fundraiser

Invitations to a silent auction need to inform guests as to why the auction is happening and how the money raised will be used. Using a simple phrase such as "Benefiting the North State Boys and Girls Club" lets guests know they are donating to charity and that the charity is not the one directly putting on the event. A separate line with "Sponsored by" and the name of the people putting on the event is needed, in such case. If the auction is a fundraiser for the same organization that is putting on the event, the wording should be "Fundraiser for North State Boys and Girls Club" and left at that. If all proceeds will go directly to the benefactor, it should be stated as "100% of proceeds benefiting" followed by the name.

Food and Drink

Most auctions have at least appetizers and refreshments available while the silent auction is taking place. This allows people to mingle and feel more comfortable. Whatever the level of food being served, it should be stated on the invitation so people do not coming having had too much or too little food beforehand. "Dinner provided" can be added in at the bottom of the invite or the hour dinner will be served listed in the program of events on the invitation. "Refreshments provided" is a polite way to tell guests the auction is a more casual event and not meant to fill a person's appetite while bidding.

Format and Delivery

Invitations should be placed in envelopes and sent rather than presented as postal cards to maintain formality and accommodate all the information required to properly invite guests to a silent auction. Etiquette for delivery of invitations is still via USPS for delivery within the 50 states. If the silent auction is on a tight budget or very informal, hand-delivered invitations are permitted, but do not generate the same sort of reaction of entitlement or privy as an invitation received via postal mail.

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