After a recent event it is nice to get emails like this:

Capture1234“Stephen, you were absolutely phenomenal at the Camp Rosenbaum auction last week. You were personable with the guests, wicked funny and read the room with perfection. I attended a different fundraiser Saturday, and while the auctioneer was very professional, he did not bring half the personality and warmth you did. You are a rock star!”




And this:

“Austin worked so hard at our event to raise our school the most money possible! I received so many compliments about him and his work ethic. I would highly recommend him and Stephen to anyone throwing an auction. It was my teams first time doing an event and both Stephen and Austin assisted us in the whole  process-every step of the way.

Silent Auction Tips

Silent Auctions are a lot of work.  In fact, they are the most work for the least amount of return at your event.  If you procure $20,000 worth of silent auction items on average the national return is $10,000 or 50%.  In the Pacific Northwest, we can expect $15,000 or 75%.

One of the biggest trends in silent auctions – is not doing them at all, or having one small section.  Less is more in a silent auction.  My friends at Greater Giving say you should take the amount of bidding units at your auction, cut that number in half, and that is how many items you should have in your silent auction… and I say cut that number down by 25%.  For example, you have 200 guests, and let’s say they are all couples.  That means 100 bidding units.  The formula would say 50 silent auction items… I would say about 35.   Less items, but quality items will drive prices up.  You don’t want your guests feeling they have spent too much before going into the live auction and special appeal.

A lot of groups spend too much time focusing on their silent auction.  The better use of your time is finding sponsorship money, networking, procuring better selling live items.  Also spend extra time thinking of creative and better revenue enhancers.

Your silent auction is not a GARAGE SALE.  Less items means higher returns, and fewer unsold items for your silent auction.



  • Mobile Bidding
    • This has the potential to increase your profits by 20-40%.
    • The key is to weigh the expense against the extra revenue. How much will extra WiFi and IT support cost you?
    • You will also need extra volunteers to help bidders who don’t “get it.”
    • If you don’t use mobile bidding – Use auction software that has a texting function so you can notify silent auction winners that they have won an item and where to pick it up after the auction.
  • Silent Auction Display
    • Make sure your guests know which silent section is which. They should be obviously labeled.
    • Closing times for each section should be obviously displayed.
    • The silent auction area should be well lit – so people can see the tangible items, and they can read the descriptions on the bid sheets.
    • Don’t use too small of a font on the bid sheets.
    • Make sure the items are displayed creatively, and nicely.
    • Make your silent auction visually appealing.
    • Include photos and display all tangible items.
    • A table crammed with auction items is very unappealing. Space out your silent auction items.
    • Make sure your guests know which bid sheets go with which item.
    • VERY IMPORTANT – Make sure there are nice-looking pens for EVERY item.
  • Bid Sheets
    • Should you include value on silent auction bid sheets?  Yes!
    • How many bidding spots should there be on a silent auction bid sheet? At least 10-12.
    • What percentage should you start the bidding on a silent auction item?
      • That varies – some say 50%, but standard is 35%.
      • Your auction software should be able to set the bid amounts.
    • Don’t leave the bid sheet open-ended, make sure to have a buy-it-now or guaranteed purchase section.
    • Make sure all the pertinent information is on the bid sheet.
      • For example: How many does the cabin sleep? How many nights is it for?
    • What about all those extra donations?
      • You can use them as give-aways. Or you can bundle them together to make 1 silent auction package.  A tip if you bundle or package items together, come up with a creative title or display to make them stand out.
    • What about all those gift cards?
      • Gather 10-12 restaurant gift cards and do a restaurant frenzy. Or you can you do a buy-it-now board at the auction with all sorts of gift cards.  If you want more information on restaurant frenzy, email us:

PROFILE #9 – Camp Gallagher

As fundraising auctioneers, we get to work with some amazing non-profit organizations.  From time to time we are going to highlight some of those organizations and the amazing work they do.  The best part of our job is raising much needed funds for great organizations like: Camp Gallagher.


Camp Gallagher, a place for discovery and adventure, provides opportunities for personal growth in a safe environment through challenge and exploration on land and water, giving campers improved self-confidence, life-long friendships, and an appreciation of their environment.


Gallagher is a place where campers live in simplicity and community, discovering and exploring the environment around them.



Campers will:
Embrace and observe the beauty of the world that surrounds them. Gain self-esteem by learning new skills in cooperation with others.  Build confidence through group activities such as the challenge and ropes course and overnight adventures.  Show courage by sharing ideas and taking risks to challenge themselves and others to push beyond their comfort level to learn and explore.  Unwind and unplug while living each day from sun-up to sundown. Be empowered when learning to do something they never thought they could.  Observe how the moon affects the ebb and flow of the tides.  Learn competence in new situations.   Gain an appreciation of the out-of-doors through experiences in the forest and on the beach.


Campers will:
Persevere and problem solve. Build: sand castles, forts in the woods and campfires, meals.  Keep an open mind and listen to other ideas. Develop friendships and lasting memories while sharing daily experiences with friends. Create community while playing, boating and spending time on overnights cooking with their lodge.  Nurture creativity, curiosity and critical thinking while planning daily activities. Foster an environment that will show others social responsibility while living in a community.


Campers will:
Gain respect for the environment and learn how they impact the land they live on.  Gain navigation and water safety skills during two or three day overnights while sailing, canoeing or kayaking in the south Puget Sound. Play wide games and strategize with their fellow team members.  Hike in a pristine, yet rustic outdoor setting on South Puget Sound.  Acquire boating skills while kayaking and canoeing on the south Puget Sound. Learn to be resourceful and grow and stretch as they tackle and problem solve new situations.


Campers will:
Share, reflect and build new friendships while telling stories and singing songs at sundown and campfire at the end of each day.  Care for others and discover their personal strengths.  Respect others and the environment and gain an understanding of their impact upon the land they live on.  Share ideas and work together to create community.




CRAFTS – Get creative with help from our craft specialist and many fantastic craft supplies. We encourage campers to create a unique craft for a fellow camper in our end-of-session potlatch ceremony.


GAMES – Gals vs. Guys? Campers vs. Staff? It’s on! We take ‘Capture the Flag’ to a new level with our beach version of the game: Styx. And don’t forget about the most beloved Gallagher pastime of all, kickball before sundown.

THEMES – Each session of Camp Gallagher centers around a theme, culminating in an exciting ‘theme night’ at the end of the session. Past theme nights include a Gallagher Circus, a Haunted Halloween in July, Casino Night and Gallagher Prom Night.

SUNDOWN – The most iconic Gallagher tradition of all, Sundown is a chance for campers to gather, sing songs, share their thoughts with each other and bask in the unparalleled beauty of the Camp Gallagher sunset.


CAMPFIRE – What’s camping without a real, roaring campfire? We end every night (other than ‘theme night’) with a campfire on the beach. Campers lead songs, from feet-stompin’ favorites like ‘Flea’ to softer tunes like ‘Ripple’  played on the acoustic guitar.


CANOEING – Navigating the Puget Sound by canoe is a fantastic way to take in the area’s natural beauty, bond with fellow campers and travel to charming overnight spots on neighboring shores.


SAILING – Sailing has a big role at Camp Gallagher, with campers navigating the waterfront on small Sunfish, larger sailboats and even building their own rafts with tarp sails!

KAYAKING – Whether you’re heading out for a picnic lunch or a two-night overnight, kayaks are a pretty spectacular way to travel (not to mention a great way to buff up those biceps). Just don’t forget the sunscreen!


SWIMMING – It may be chilly, it may be salty, but there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a swim in the Puget Sound. From early-morning lemming runs to afternoon wading, campers are invited to enjoy the sparkling Gallagher waters under the supervision of our lifeguards.

OVERNIGHTS – Explore the Puget Sound like Peter Puget! For one or two nights, we set course for campsites across the south Puget Sound, sleeping under the stars and cooking meals over an open campfire.




Sound Experience

Athletes For Kids

Friendship Circle

Camp Rosenbaum

Growing Veterans


Center for Human Services

Your Board Has Talent!

Whenever we do procurement rallies for clients we always find some interesting talent that one of the people attending has.  And yes, we can usually turn that around into a great selling live auction item.

You always ask your board about vacation homes, tickets, and who do they know?  And of course those are great questions – because we need those types of items to fill out or live auction.  But what about asking them what talent they have, or what skill they have that others don’t, or what is interesting about them.  You can sometimes find a gem of a live auction item.  That’s how we found out this particular board member had the ability to saber a champagne bottle!   And now this is one of the most popular items at their auction each year.  The winning bidder gets their own sword, and lessons on how to use it!

So ask around, what hidden talents do the parents of your school, or your board members have?  I am sure there is someone with something that we can make money for your organization with.  Just ASK!

Do you publicize the value of your auction items?

Do you publicize the value of your auction items?


This is a topic I have struggled with for years.  Should FMV (Fair Market Value) be listed in the catalog or not?  MY ANSWER – NO.  I don’t think values should be listed on the powerpoint, or in the catalog.  The listing of a FMV in the catalog or on the powerpoint could limit the amount of money you make on a live auction item.  People are generous for sure, but they may not be willing to pay 3x the amount of something, especially if they know the true FMV value.

The only time you need to add FMV to a catalog or powerpoint is when the value will help sell an item.  For instance if an item has a high value but your guests don’t realize how special and how valuable it is – I think you should let them know, just so they understand what they are bidding on.


1) Your auctioneer needs to know the FMV of items.  It is crucial for her or him to be able to know where to start the bid.  And for them to know the true value of the items they are selling.

2) FMV’s need to be listed on receipts you give your guests at the end of the night for tax purposes.

3) The only items that should be listed as priceless, are items that are truly priceless.  Principal for a Day for instance, or class art projects.  But most everything in your auction has a true FMV.

4) You can promote the value of your auction on social media, etc.  “Come bid and be part of over $30,000 worth of fabulous live auction items.”

5) FMV’s on silent items should be listed.  This is the one place in the auction where it is OK for someone to get a deal.  Typically your silent auction return should be about 70% of value.

Another note: One of the most important questions we ask clients is not “how much did you make at your last live auction,” but “how much was the return of value of your live auction items.”  That information is how the auctioneer knows how spendy your crowd is.  If you earned $100,000 in your live auction and the value of the items was $50,000… that’s 200% of value, and that is awesome.  However if the value was $200,000 and you earned $100,000 that is a 50% return.  Big difference on the spending habits and spending capacity of your guests.

If you have any questions or comments please let us know:

Boost Auction Fundraiser Income

WEBINAR!  Auctria & Kilbreath Auctions are hosting a webinar on March 1, and March 6 at 9am.


Boost the Auction Fundraiser Income:
Spotlight live & silent events
Tips you can use right now!

Please share with your entire auction team!
All are invited, Auctria webinars are FREE
Best practices and practical advice to help groups make more money with an auction fundraiser.
We are pleased to feature professional auctioneer Stephen Kilbreath who will join us with his expert advice on choosing and using an auctioneer for the event.
Stephen is a professional fundraising auctioneer, calling hundreds of auctions all across the country. 
He is recognized as a National Auctioneers Association Benefit Auctioneer Specialist. 
He will share some great stories too.
Agenda will include:
  • Purpose & expectations of running an auction fundraiser
  • Contrasting auction types
  • Adding in an hybrid components
  • Choosing & Using a professional auctioneer
  • Team roles, timelines & checklists
  • Promoting the auction
Webinar will be LIVE with open questions and answers to follow.
Register now and Auctria will send you a friendly reminder to join us.


Top Auction Travel Destinations

There two things for certain – people love to getaway and people love to support your cause.  One of the best things you can do at your auction is combine those two things.

Nashville is a top US Vacation spot

When your guests buy a getaway at an auction they feel great for two reasons:

  1. The money they spent for the getaway (often spending well over value) is going to do great things for your non-profit.
  2. They are receiving a getaway to a popular location, a place they love, or maybe they are trying something new, and who doesn’t love to travel.

According to Luxury Travel magazine 80% of winning bidders set aside $5k a year for travel, and 53% set aside $10k.  Wow!  And just think that money could be going to your organization.


Chateau Fairmont – Lake Louise

At Kilbreath Auctions we work with some great companies that can get you that special getaway your auction needs.  The best thing about consigned auction travel packages:

The auctioneer can sell multiple trips to maximize your earnings

You don’t have to pay for the item, until it sells – No-risk items with reserve bids


There a couple of things we suggest when selecting getaways.

1) Don’t over-shoot.
  • make sure you put trips in your auction that your audience can afford
  • consider your geographical area and the length of a trip
  • trips that can be done in a long weekend can be very popular
2) Utilize your theme to pick travel destinations.
  • if your theme is Casino Royale, maybe a trip to Monte Carlo, or even closer Las Vegas
  • if your theme is Beach Party, maybe a trip to a Caribbean beach, or even closer California
3) Make sure you have a nice balance of auction items.
  • ensure getaways/travel items are spaced out well in the auction
  • don’t over-do it with getaways
4) Get your consigned trips underwritten.
  • a lot of times donors will want to underwrite something at the auction
  • if it is underwritten, 100% of what we make night of the auction goes to your organization
  • Click HERE if you want some great information about the companies we work with for travel and experience destinations

We researched the events we did last year and came up with the top travel / getaway destinations.


  1. Suncadia
  2. Whistler
  3. Cannon Beach
  4. Walla Walla
  5. Lake Chelan

When looking at drive-to destinations… make sure you are picking something unique.  For example does your Walla Walla package include wine tasting, and a stay at the Marcus Whitman?

How about the ultimate luxury: One of our top selling items last year was a weekend trip to Bandon Dunes on a private jet.


  1. Nashville
  2. Napa Wine Country
  3. Iceland
  4. New York City
  5. Montana Fly Fishing
  6. Alaska
  7. Canadian Rockies
  8. Golf Destinations
  9. Africa
  10. Bali

When working on fly-to packages, make sure it is unique.  What special adventure are you offering that will make your guests feel like they are getting something they couldn’t just buy themselves.  Maybe your New York package includes tickets to Hamilton.  Or your Canadian Rockies trip includes a train ride back to Vancouver, or a ski weekend at Lake Louise.

Suncadia Lodge

Experiences Through Winspire

At Kilbreath Auctions we can help get you the best items for your live auction.  Sometimes you need additional experience or vacation packages that you just can’t seem to get on you own.  That is where companies like Winspire can help.  Winspire is one of the companies we recommend for excellent high-end travel packages and experiences.

Click on this like to see how it works: Why Winspire + How it Works


Why Winspire?

Winspire gives you powerful tools to find the best priceless Experiences to sell at your next fundraising auction with no risk, and a simple redemption process for your Winning Bidders.


Priceless Experiences

We build and fulfill the largest selection of unique Experiences for use in your charity auction or raffle. Our Experiences are priceless and difficult to value, so bidders will pay top dollar to win them. This not only increases your fundraising dollars, but also creates the kind of “buzz” that drives up bidding on other items, leaving a good impression on your donors.


Professional Event Consultation & Advice

Winspire is staffed with Nonprofit fundraising and event professionals who have extensive experience in event production, auction management and support services. We know what charity auction patrons want and we know how to deliver it. Your designated Fundraising Specialist will be able to provide you with valuable advice on how to maximize your fundraising revenue and run a successful event.


When the Event is Over, You’re Done!

With a Winspire Booking & Concierge Service included on all our Experiences, we take care of everything the Winning Bidder needs following your event. When they are ready to redeem their trip, Winning Bidders simply follow the steps outlined on their Booking Voucher. Our team of travel professionals will take it from there, handling reservations and booking the Experience down to every last detail.


No Risk Auction Items

Your Nonprofit organization only purchases an Experience after the fundraising event, and only after it has been successfully sold to a Winning Bidder. A Fundraising Specialist will work with you to determine a minimum auction price for each package, giving you control over how much you make. If you don’t reach the minimum bid during your charity auction, no transaction with Winspire takes place. This guarantees you profit on items sold and makes all our Experiences 100% No Risk.


How Winspire Works

  1. Select Experiences

Start by browsing our wide selection of 200+ Experiences at, then select the packages likely to have wide appeal among your donors. When you’re ready to begin, add items to your online Suitcase*. Your designated Fundraising Specialist is here to help you figure out which travel packages best suit your audience.

  1. Offer Them At Your Event

Pay nothing upfront. You only purchase the Experiences that sell for the profitable price you set – it really is no risk! Every dollar you raise above the package price goes to your cause. Plus, nearly all Winspire packages can be sold multiple times, during and after your event.

  1. Tell us what sold

After your event, tell us how many of each Experience sold and enter the names and emails of your winning donors. We will send an invoice for the total cost of those packages within 3 business days. Once we receive payment from your Nonprofit, redemption vouchers are automatically sent to Winning Bidders so they can begin redeeming their Experience.

  1. Winning Bidders Redeem

Once they have received their Booking Voucher, your Winning Bidders have everything they need to redeem their Experience. We take care of everything, reserving down to every last detail to ensure your most important patrons are raving about their trip at your next event!


We also work with:

Mitch-Stuart, Inc.

Silent & Live Auction Vacations

Zulu Nyala




Profile #8 – PAVE

As fundraising auctioneers, we get to work with some amazing non-profit organizations.  From time to time we are going to highlight some of those organizations and the amazing work they do.  The best part of our job is raising much needed funds for great organizations like: PAVE

2 women attending Rainier game

We partner with you, so that you are empowered! 

If you live in the great state of Washington and are a parent of a child, youth or young adult with a disability and/or special health care needs.  If you are a youth or young adult with a disability and/or special health care needs.  If you are a military – active duty, retired or veteran – parent, family or youth.  We partner with YOU!

We walk beside you to provide information, resources, training, inclusive events, community referrals, support groups and person centered plans.  The secret is out, PAVE has been helping families in Washington since 1979.



Our mission

A parent organization providing support, training and informational resources to empower families and individuals with disabilities.

Our vision

An inclusive world that values diversity, culture and each individual as a full and equal member of the community.

Our values

  • Inclusion through compassionate advocacy
  • Integrity with creativity
  • Quality leadership
  • Collaborative partnerships
  • Continuous growth and learning

Outcomes PAVE aims to achieve

  • Enhanced knowledge of parents/caregivers, families and individuals with disabilities/special needs
  • Tools, information and resources for you, as a parent/care-giver of a child with disabilities and/or special health care needs and for youth, with and without disabilities
  • Increased self-reliance of parents/caregivers, families and individuals with disabilities/special needs
  • Inclusion in one’s community, wider opportunities and understanding of the neighbors, friends, and co-workers who have disabilities!
  • Community acceptance, tolerance and understanding of individuals with disabilities/special needs


Kindness matters inspirational message on grey wooden background  Health & Wellness

Programs of PAVE

Community Inclusion Program (CIP), holds monthly meetings throughout Pierce County on Disability related topics. Families, individuals with disabilities, neighbors and community members come together to learn about resources and supports. Meetings feature leadership skills for youth and child activities for children 10 and under.

The Family to Family Health & Information Center (F2FHIC), is a program that serves families who have children and youth with special health care needs age birth to 26 years. We provide individual information on advocating for your child in the health care system and refer you to resources that are available in Washington State that provide information on health care.

Person Centered Planning Program (PCP), Focused on Pierce County, this program provides ongoing training for facilitators, as well as support for parents and self-advocate mentors through person centered plans utilizing maps and graphics. We work in partnership with school districts and can contract privately for individual plans.

Parent Training and Information (PTI) Center, helps parents and other professionals understand and advocate for individuals with a disability in the special education system. PTI coordinators provide family friendly printed information, educational workshops, one to one assistance, attendance at educational meetings when available and support in understanding your rights and responsibility to a free and appropriate public education for your child with special needs.

Pierce County Parent to Parent (P2P), provides emotional support and information on community resources for parents who have a child with a disability or chronic health need. Helping Parent Volunteers and staff assist families in coping with many challenging experiences and feelings and can contact families by phone, home visits, or hospital visits.

Specialized Training of Military Parents (STOMP), provides one and two-day in-person workshops and one-hour webinars throughout the United States and overseas for military families and military personnel.  Topics include: Rights and Responsibilities (IDEA, IEP), Advocacy, SSI/Medicaid, TRICARE/ECHO/ABA, WILLs, Guardianships & Special Needs Trusts, Networking, IEP and 504 Breakouts. STOMP training provides families with federal information to gain a a better understanding of how to navigate through educational and medical systems when they have a child who has exceptional/special needs.  STOMP workshops and webinars are funded by the Army, Navy and Air Force who determine the locations and workshop or webinar topics per installation.






Sound Experience

Athletes For Kids

Friendship Circle

Camp Rosenbaum

Growing Veterans


Center for Human Services