Hosting Chinese Auction

Looking to host an auction to raise money for charity, or just to swap some old things?  Consider hosting a Chinese auction -- a type of auction in which people buy tickets which they then drop into bowls beside the items up for auction, thus giving them a chance to be chosen to buy the item.  The great thing about a Chinese auction is that not only do you raise the money from the items themselves, but also from the raffle tickets, the chances people are purchasing to get the lots they want.

A bowl of coupons for a raffle.

Because the thrill of a Chinese auction is in the raffle, and because it's all based on chance, your guests may be likely to purchase lots of chances to win various items -- so make sure you have plenty of tickets available for purchase.  Also, you may want to package and sell them in bundles, so that people are guaranteed to buy a certain amount, and so that you don't have to worry about accidentally selling too few to someone.When you start your Chinese auction hosting process, seek out donated items from people close to the cause or out in your community.  You can't have an auction without the merchandise, so you'll need to get plenty of complimentary massages, baked goodie baskets, and days at someone's time share to sell.

Come up with reasonable prices for the items, because people will have already paid for the raffle tickets and may not want to shell out a lot more cash for the lots themselves.  You can safely estimate that a good price for an item is its retail value minus about 10-20%, allowing for the money people already spent on tickets.  Depending on the popularity of an item, the money it raises could be significantly more than twice its value, thanks to how many people purchased chances to win the rights to it!

Chinese auctions are also great if you want to have a themed auction, because the raffle aspect lends a party atmosphere to an already exciting fundraising event.  Collect items for sale that fit a specific theme and plan the party and decorations around that same idea.

Put some drama into the winner announcements!  Though you won't need an auctioneer trained in the ways of a traditional auction, you'll still want someone to stand up and exhibit drama and flair.  This person will need to draw the tickets out of each bowl and thunder the winning number out into the party, so pick somebody who's not afraid to be on stage!

If you choose to host a garage sale for charity instead of an auction, you can list it for free with us!  Just log on to and put up all the details, for free.

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