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What Is a Live Auction?

Live auctions offer your audience the chance to bid on a selection of showstopping items in real time, with the highest bidder taking home the prize.

The bidding for each item is led by a live auctioneer or volunteer, and donors typically signal their bids by calling out or raising a numbered paddle.

Live auctions aren’t limited to in-person fundraising events. As long as bidding happens live, they can be integral parts of virtual fundraisers or hybrid events.

live auction fundraising event paddles Photo credit: Kesem's Make the Magic Gala

💡Expert Tip: 

Unlike auction item donations, consignment prizes like auction travel packages can be sold unlimited times, raking in huge funds. Multiples can be sold once bidding hits a desired amount or at the highest bid price. 

Why Host a Live Auction?

Live auctions offer incredible opportunities to drive up bids by creating urgency, excitement, and competition in the crowd. They also offer a chance to connect more deeply with your audience by appealing to donors’ emotions and appreciating their support in real time. 

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💡Expert Tip: 

Did you know live auctions raise 4x more funds on average than silent auctions, and 6x more than online auctions? That number jumps by 20% when led by a professional live auctioneer! 

The Best Live Auction Items

For many, the live auction is the most anticipated part of the evening. That means you'll want to showcase live auction items that are buzz-worthy, broadly appealing, and drive big bids.

For easy live auction ideas, we've split our picks into 5 popular categories. Use our list to inspire your planning, and remember – each auction and audience is unique. Be sure to choose items that resonate most with your demographic and event. 

💡Expert Tip: 

Placing the right number of items is equally crucial to your live auction results. To avoid donor fatigue, our experts recommend placing no more than 5 live auction items per event.

VIP Experiences

1. Celeb Meet and Greet

Give VIP donors the chance to rub shoulders with the biggest names in entertainment, from celebs and musicians to Broadway stars and sports legends.

2. Backstage Passes

Offer audiences a chance to go behind the scenes with exclusive backstage passes to TV and movie sets, hot concerts, historic monuments, and more. 

3. Exclusive Events

Indulge your most distinguished guests with access to premier events such as the Monaco Grand Prix or Paris Fashion Week.

Note: LuxGive exclusive events are on a custom and individualized basis only. For all inquiries, please contact the Experiences team.  

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grand prix travel packages
celebrity meet and greet

💡Expert Tip: 

Most nonprofits don't have contacts who can donate these experiences. Consignment is a risk-free way to offer highly-appealing and exclusive prizes that elevate your event and drive bigger bids.

Auction Travel Packages

4. Beach Stays

By far the most requested auction travel packages, let bidders battle it out for a private villa on the sun-kissed sands of Mexico, the Caribbean, or the Meditteranean.

5. Bucket List Getaways 

Blow donors away with bucket list auction vacation packages like a Safari adventure or timeless trip to Tuscany. A billionaire's private island tops the list of truly once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

6. Winner's Choice

Let donors choose their ideal escape with collections ranging from beach stays to National Park glamping retreats and the world's trendiest destinations.

luxury villa auction travel packages
tuscany auction travel packages
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💡Expert Tip:

Not sure which getaway would do best at your event? Learn how to choose the right auction travel packages for any fundraiser with our free 5-step guide.

Culinary Experiences

7. Wine Tasting

This donor-favorite lets winners sample fine wines in a picturesque setting. True wine lovers will also relish an escape to the sun-drenched vineyards of Napa, Sonoma, or Burgundy.

8. Private Chef

Turn any occasion into a 5-star dining experience with an evening of in-home chef service. Up the appeal by adding a private chef to any of our auction travel packages.

9. Cooking Classes

From laid-back couple's classes to chef-led ateliers, give donors the chance to sharpen their culinary technique while savoring gourmet ingredients.

private wine tasting auction package
benefit auction donor cooking class
private chef service wine country

Sports & Fitness

10.  Sports Memorabilia

Ever popular with bidders, spark serious bidding wars with signed sports equipment, jerseys, and collector's items.

11. Sports Passes

Get bidders into the action with seasonal ski passes, tee times, or tickets to showstopping sporting events.  Why not make a vacation out of it with stay-and-play experiences

12. Private Sports Lessons 

Perfect your game with individualized training from the experts, from private golf lessons to pro tennis coaching in paradise

sports memorabilia for charity auction
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sporting event tickets


13. Disney World Getaway

Topping every family's wish list, put an unforgettable Disney World getaway up for grabs. Upgrade it with a villa stay offering direct waterpark access, on-site restaurants and shopping, and PGA golf for the parents.

14. Auction Baskets

Great for smaller events or school fundraisers, offer family-friendly auction baskets with the latest games, tech, theme park passes, restaurant certificates, and more. For more auction basket inspiration, explore our 21 winning raffle basket ideas donors will love.

15. Family Vacation

Family getaways are best enjoyed in your own backyard. Get away for a long weekend to the Ozarks or Great Smoky Mountains. Or hit the mountains of Colorado and Montana in any season.

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💡Expert Tip:

Family-friendly live auction items aren't just aimed at parents. Grandparents often make up a significant portion of your bidder pools and tend to have more expendable income to spend on family get-togethers. 

Drive bigger live auction results 

Our luxury travel experiences raise 3x more than traditional auction travel packages and feature private accommodation, dedicated concierge service, and immersive local experiences.

Explore our exclusive portfolio or speak to a fundraising expert to supercharge your live auction today! 

At LuxGive, we believe in the transformative power of travel. Our mission is to help nonprofits raise more funds at auction through once-in-a-lifetime home and villa experiences.

Our travel experiences feature Premium Guest Services for trip planning and access to an exceptional portfolio of over 1,500 stunning private properties across the world. 

Whether it’s a luxury Caribbean villa, an enchanting Tuscan apartment, or an alpine lodge steps from the powder, we have something for all your clients' needs.

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