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Best Practice: USTA/Northern Section Silent Auctions

Best Practice: USTA/Northern Section Silent Auctions

Definition And Example: 
The USTA/Northern Section stages Silent Auctions as part of major tennis events such as the section's circuit event, the Cortec $50,000 USTA Women's Tournament.  These annual auctions generate revenues for the section's new Hall of Fame in the Fort Snelling Tennis and Learning Center.  The auctions are open to the public and feature twenty or so items available for bid.  Most of the items are sports related including tennis memorabilia.  If the event lasts more than one day, the Silent Auction is held for multiple days.

Last year the Northern Section created a permanent home for its Hall of Fame at a new facility in Minneapolis, the Fort Snelling Tennis and Learning Center. Funding has come from silent auction revenues and individual contributors.  Silent auction monies from four auctions have totaled $6,785.00 and those monies represent about half of the income generated to pay for the Hall of Fame.

Silent Auctions can provide revenues for specific projects.  Identifying the auctions with a cause can help the customer understand the purpose of the auctions and perhaps make it more appealing to bid on an item.  The auction revenue may also help fund a project which otherwise is not budgeted.  Silent auctions enhance the customer experience at the event, too.  People are curious about items and may spend several minutes looking at the items.

Most items can be donated by local sports teams or by making contacts with tennis promoters or players.  Examples of items in our auctions: autographed tennis items such as a racquet, poster and cap, plus autographed shoes, autographed jersey and autographed ball from pro basketball, football and baseball stars.  Our items almost exclusively target a sports audience including tennis.  Set the pricing fairly aggressively and then be ready, if necessary, to adjust it downward if there is little interest in the item.  The individual or organization donating the item can often help establish the pricing.  We use four tables, two tables to set the items on and two tables in front of those tables to display the bid sheets.  Those tables also keep the public away from the items.  Total time from project start to finish is minimal, perhaps eight hours.

People Involved: 
The key planner was David Shama, Northern Section Director of Marketing and Communications.

Approximately 30-60 days lead-time is required, depending on your skill at acquiring items.  It is also important to allow enough time for items to be shipped by the donors.  Allow some time each day to set up and take down items.  At the end of the auction try to finalize all sales.  Those sales not finalized should be followed up with phone calls to the high bidders within a day or two.

Cost is minimal and limited to the purchase of perhaps a few items (such as posters to have autographed), plus in-house costs.

David Shama
USTA Northern Section
1001 West 98 Street, Suite 101
Bloomington, MN 55431
Phone: 952-887-5001, ext. 18.  

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