Fundraising for Small Groups Newsletter

A free newsletter with fundraising ideas, tips, and secrets for the small nonprofit fundraiser

December 14, 2018

Get an email update every time I publish a new fundraising article!

Your Name:

Your E-mail Address:

I promise never to sell, rent, or give your email address to anyone else. PERIOD!

Bookmark Fundraiser
Share Fundraiser
 Subscribe in a reader

Custom Search


Subscribe Free

Why Subscribe?

About Us

About Us
Contact Us

Article Archive

Managing a Fundraiser

Fundraising Strategies

Fundraising Ideas

Fundraising Products

Fundraising Events

Fundraising Resources

Fundraising Volunteers

Fundraising With a Chinese Auction

by Kimberly Reynolds

Chinese auctions are very similar to silent auctions except they have a raffle component added to the mix. The bidding on items is done by ticket instead of by a written bid.

In a Chinese auction, customers buy a number of tickets for a set price, then use the tickets to bid on the items on display by dropping them in a fishbowl next to the item. In a silent auction, they would just enter a bid amount on a form next to the donated item.

Buyers are free to put as many tickets as they want in the fishbowl. At the close of the auction period, the winning ticket for each auction item is then drawn from the corresponding fishbowl.

Obviously, the more tickets a person deposits in the bowl, the higher the percentage chance that they'll win the item. That means that highly desirable items will draw a lot of tickets, just as they would draw a lot of bids in regular auction.

That's part of the big draw for a Chinese auction. Ticket costs are low compared to the ultimate value of the auction items, so lucky winners will get a great deal.

And having lots of ticket buyers means your group will do very well!

Three types of Chinese auctions

  1. The standard format is as we previously discussed. The items are displayed on tables with a ticket box or bowl next to each item. Buyers circulate and check out which items they want to win, then drop in their tickets. At the end of your event, the winning ticket is drawn for each one.

  2. A second variant when the auction is the only event is to run it from a central stage. Bidders are seated and each item is put up for auction one at a time. Your auctioneer pitches the item while ticket collectors gather bid tickets from those raising their hands or waving tickets about.

    This makes for somewhat of a bidding frenzy, with really popular items getting hundreds of tickets submitted. Some people quickly exhaust their ticket supply, so you'll need to have ticket sellers working the room as well.

  3. The third type of Chinese auction involves everyone depositing all their tickets into a big drum. Tickets are then drawn and called out bingo-style for each item up for auction.

    People like this because they have a chance at winning every time an item is drawn. As a result , many people will drop in a huge amount of tickets, which of course is what you want to happen.

    You can hold back some really high-end or desirable items for separate bidding at the end. Buyers can then buy extra tickets for these last chance drawings.

Auction profit tips

  • Ticket sales Price your tickets in bundles of 25, 50, or 100 tickets. Have ticket bundles pre-packaged. Price in even amounts for quick sales.

  • Popular items Gift certificates, gardening supplies, personal spa packages, vacation travel deals, and consumer electronics items are always popular. So are anything celebrity related or offering exclusive access.

  • Bundle items Bundling items together will oftentimes raise more than the individual items would. Group them in related categories or complementary packages.

  • Themed auctions You can also do an entire Chinese auction on a theme such as Spring, Christmas, fantasy packages, vacations, golf, sports or other popular categories.

Summary A Chinese auction is a great way to get extra profits out of donated goods and services. Obviously, the more items you have up for grabs, the more tickets you'll sell and the more funds you'll raise. Try one at your next fundraising event and you'll be pleasantly surprised!


About the Author:

Kimberly Reynolds writes for national publications about youth sports fundraisers, having a fundraiser using a Chinese Auction and other fundraising events. Find more school fundraiser ideas on her website,

Article Source:

Editor's Note:

There is a movement trying to take the name "Chinese Auction" and make it more politically correct by renaming it "Pick-a-Prize" auction. Just a heads up on that! The name "Tricky Tray" is also sometimes used instead of Chinese Auction.

View a video advertisement for a chinese auction.

See what Wikipedia has to say about Chinese Auctions.

What's a possible origin of the term Chinese Auction?

Home / Subscribe Free / About Us / Contact Us

copyright © 2000 - 2010 all rights reserved Fund$Raiser Group
ISSN 1530-6127 - Library of Congress, Washington DC, USA
Editor's Picks

Fundraising Booklets
Complete "how-to-do-it" fundraising guides - Free

Cookiedough Fundraising
Scratchcard Fundraising
Safe Fundraising

Recommended Suppliers

AWeber Communications
Send newsletters, unlimited email campaigns, autoresponders, and more. Free customer service (800# with a real human), free HTML templates, and free email analytics. 3 months of service free to non-profits opening new accounts, followed by a 25% discount from regular pricing. This is the service that the Fundraising For Small Groups Newsletter uses!

Recommended Books

Grant Writing for Beginners
Learn how to quickly and easily establish relationships with regional foundations and build a strong base of grant support for your nonprofit.
Read a Free Excerpt

Ask Without Fear
A simple guide to connecting donors with what matters to them most. Chock full of practical, easy-to-understand fundraising tools and secrets.

7 Essential Steps to Raising Money by Mail
Learn with practical examples, detailed checklists, writing helps and other tools. Sample letters for different types of solicitations and for different nonprofit groups. A step by step guide to writing fundraising letters.

Silent Auction Guide & Toolkit
Learn how to create a successful silent auction fundraiser. Silent auction strategies, timelines, auction items and how to organize and display them, how to close an auction and take payments, and other add on fundraisers to boost the bottom line of your silent auction.

Let's Raise Money
The inside scoop about small group fundraising. Learn from the founder of a national fundraising company as he reveals secrets observed over nearly two decades of fundraising.
Read a Free Excerpt

The Ultimate Guide to Planning a 5K Run or Walk Fundraiser
Plan a successful race from scratch. Proven marketing strategies, find and manage volunteers, maximize revenues, recruit and motivate teams. Checklists, forms, speadsheets, worksheets all included.

Secrets of the Charity Auction Experts
Learn from the experts! Discover the best selling auction items. How to get auction items donated. How to boost attendance. How to get more bids and higher selling prices. How to coordinating volunteers, staff and auction consultants.