A silent auction is a way for people to win an item by writing down how much they would pay for it. The one who offers to pay the most wins the item.

A silent auction lets everybody get involved in making your Carnival for MDA a success. Family, friends, neighbors and local businesses can donate items for the auction. Look at the list of prizes to get some ideas for silent auction items.

Ask adults to donate services (like yard work or a home-cooked meal) or use of an item (like a night at a cabin or a boat ride). Ask businesses to donate some of their merchandise (like a free meal, candle or T-shirt). Some people may donate gift baskets of items, like fancy bath products or a collection of teas and pastries.

Here’s how it works:

Display your silent auction items on a table where everyone can see them. Put up a sign telling what time the auction will be closed and the winners announced.

In front of each item, put a sheet of paper that has the name of the item at the top, numbers down the side, and the headings: Name, Phone Number and Bid. Put out pens or pencils by each sheet of paper, so that people can write down their bids (how much they will pay).

After people write down their bids, they can check back occasionally to see if someone made a higher bid. They then can write an even higher bid if they want.

For example:

“Basket of Water Games”
Name Phone Number Bid  
1. Joe Green 555-1212 $5.00  
2. Sue Smith 555-2080 $5.50  
3. George Jones 555-7856 $6.50  
4. Joe Green 555-1212 $7.00  


Towards the end of the carnival, make announcements letting people know closing time is near, so they can put in their final bids.
Once the auction is closed, call the highest bidders to let them know they won and collect their money.
You may want to put a minimum starting bid on some items.