How to Organize a Chinese Auction

Chinese Auction Rules

There are a few different types of Chinese auctions, so the rules depend on which one you choose. The standard format is the one we talked about on the first page, where people put their tickets into individual jars at the table. Another way to do it is to display all of the goods, but have everyone drop their tickets into a central jar. That way, they have the possibility of winning any of the prizes, which may be appealing to your guests.

If you really want to make it exciting, you can run it in more of an old-school auction format, where there's a central stage and people bid on each item as it comes up. Popular items may create bidding wars, with people offering hundreds of tickets per item. This may cause people to run out of tickets quickly, resulting in more ticket sales. If you choose this format, be sure to have ticket sellers walking through the crowd.

Regardless of what type of auction you choose, there are a couple of things you can do to maximize profitability. First, you should price your tickets in bundles of anywhere from 25 to 100. Silent auctions usually have a minimum bid for each item, which Chinese auctions don't have. So, if everyone only buys a few tickets, you're not going to raise the funds you hoped for. You can package ticket bundles together for quick transactions as people come in the door. You also may want to consider bundling lower-priced items together to make an attractive prize. For example, a gift certificate for a pedicure would go well with one for a manicure or a facial. The greater the perceived value, the more people will be willing to spend to get it.

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  • Reynolds, Kimberly. "Fundraising With a Chinese Auction." April 1, 2012.