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Penny Social or Chinese Auction

Holding a Penny Social (Chinese Auction)

A fun and exciting way to raise money for your organization or cause is to hold a Penny Social. The Penny Social (also known as a Chinese Auction) is similar to a Silent Auction with a bit of a twist. Your attendees get to “vote” for the items they would most like to win by distributing their tickets accordingly. Here’s how it works.

To run a Penny Social, you need to obtain as many donated prizes as you can to raffle off. You can solicit items such as gift certificates, event tickets, discount coupons, and merchandise from area businesses. After you obtain the items, you need to decide how you want to raffle them off. You can offer them as individual items, a combination of items, or a mix of the two. For example, if you have some lower priced items, you can raise the value by combining them together as a package.

At your event, the items are put on display for your attendees to inspect and bid on. The items should be in a central location or very conspicuous area at your event. Each item will have its own bucket or bowl for the deposit of tickets. It is a good idea to have a numbered sign with a description of the item available for bid. Have a matching number on the bucket or bowl for that item. This will prevent any confusion as to which item the participants are bidding on.

As the prospective bidders enter the room, they purchase a sheet or sheets of Penny Social tickets. Each sheet contains 25 tickets, a door prize ticket, and a redemption stub. Each of the tickets and stub has a matching number. The numbers run consecutively within each pack of ticket sheets, so there won’t be any duplicate numbers. The bidders place a ticket in the bucket or bowl of the item they would like to try and win. The more numbers they put in, the better their chance of winning. You can also offer the opportunity for them to purchase extra sheets to raise additional funds.

After the auction is concluded, each of the buckets or bowls and the items will be collected and brought to the stage area. The winning number for each of the items is then drawn from its bucket or bowl. As a consolation drawing, a winning number is then selected for the door prize.   

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