Donation Guide

Donation Guide

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Thank you for donating to the UUCC Auction!  Donations by UUCC folk are the heart of UUCC’s Annual Auction.

Deciding What to Donate

Donations are made in the following categories:

Need some inspiration?  Visit Ideas for Auction Donations.  Or talk to the Auction Team at Coffee Hour.

I Have a Good Idea But It Seems Complex/Expensive/Too Much Work

We love that you’re thinking big!  Please consider getting together a group of donors to share the load.  This is also a good way to get to know someone better.

Whether you’re in search of folks to share your donation, or if you’re a person who’d like to be a co-donor with someone else who needs a co-donor, we can try to help you find someone to fit the bill.  Come and talk to us at coffee hour, or contact the auction team at   We’ll try to match you up.

How Your Donated Item Will Be Bid On

On Auction night, UUCC offers both a Silent Auction and a Vocal Auction.  Items that have a higher expected value and/or high anticipated interest (generally including dinner events) are put in the Vocal Auction, and other items are put in the Silent Auction.  Tangible items are nearly always put in the Silent Auction, unless they are of unusually high value..

How Will My Donated Item Be Priced?

There are two kinds of bidding in the Auction: fixed-price and bid-up.

In fixed-price bidding, the winning bid price is set beforehand, and bidders willing to pay that bid price win the bidding on a first-come-first-served basis.  This method of setting a bid price is great for large, lower-priced events, such as the annual Chalice Messengers jazz concert and dance, which can accommodate 100 guests.  The Auction Team appreciates the willingness of donors to offer lower-priced events that many can afford, in addition to more valuable and pricy items: we want the Auction to be inclusive, as well as a great moneymaker.

Bid-up pricing is what people usually think of when they think of an auction: the price starts low and the Auctioneer ups the bid price incrementally until the number of willing buyers matches the number of buyers the donor can accommodate.

Adding a family pricing tier is an option for fixed-bid events that have a large number of maximum buyers.  In family pricing, a fixed price of 2 times the individual price is assessed to family groupings, regardless of size.

There is a pricing minimum for tangible items – $20. If you are donating a tangible item, such as a print, DVD, book, or cookware, please do not donate if the item would not bring at least that amount if sold in their present condition between a willing buyer and seller. 

However, if you have smaller-value items in good condition that make sense to sell in a group (such as dishware for multiple place settings), you may be able to combine them into a single item that has meets this value minimum.  In fact, a popular idea for donation is a gift basket – a grouping of foods/beverages/wine, massage oils/loofahs/lotions/soaps, books on a theme, etc., arranged attractively in a basket.  It’s a great way to convert low-cost, attractive items into a suitable donation for the Auction.

The Auctioneers welcome your recommendations about where in the Auction your item gets put, and how the bidding should go.  If the Auctioneers feel a different arrangement is warranted, they may contact you to discuss it.  Final decisions on auction position, bidding method and minimum/fixed bid prices are made by the Auctioneers.

Did My Donated Item Sell?

You’ll know if your tangible item sold by the post-it note on or next to your item, indicating the buyer’s paddle number – if you don’t see one at the end of Auction Night, it didn’t sell.  Donors of foods and tangible items MUST take their unsold items home.

Other items in the silent auction will have their bid sheets marked as to whether they sold. If you can’t attend the Auction and want to know if your event, getaway, or other item sold in the Vocal auction, and for how much, you can get in touch with the Auction Team, and we can look it up for you.

It’s satisfying when a donation gets lots of attention, and disappointing when an item goes unsold.   We find that the following features tend to sell donated items:

  • For tangible items – tell a story. Did the painting you donated hang in your great-grandfather’s study during World War I?  How did it come to you?  Did you wear that dress to a Barack Obama election party?  Did the shawl you’re offering originally belong to one of the founding members of UUCC?  Telling an interesting story about your item can create interest and raise its value.
  • For tangible items, accept invitations from the Auction Team to bring in the item before the Auction to talk it up. This worked brilliantly for a large numbered print, which failed to sell at all the first year it was offered.  The following year it was brought to coffee hour and accompanied by a bio of the artist, which Auction Team members discussed with passers-by. At the Auction the bidding went into the thousands.
  • Offer food. Offering food as part of an event makes everything more attractive.  Offering small free samples of a food item in the Silent Auction also helps the item sell.
  • Make your item as easy as possible to buy. For example, when offering an event, it’s easier for buyers to commit to bidding on it if you’ve specified a clear date and time, rather than offering to negotiate the date with a group of winning bidders, or to offer an event whose date is to be determined.  In general, we don’t recommend offering events in which dates and times are to be determined, and in fact almost all Auction events are specific as to date and time.  (There are a few exceptions – for example, donors have offered Auction events that involve attending a larger event – such as watching a race or sporting event – prior to the date/time of the larger event being announced.)
  • Offer a piece of YOU. Auction buyers are your friends and members of your community. So when you offer something created by yourself or another member of the UUCC community, interest is heightened. If you or a family member have a creative talent you can exploit (such as sewing, painting, photography, graphic design, etc.), turn it into an Auction item. If the item is by a former member of UUCC, a family member, or an ancestor, think about accompanying it with the story of how it came to be yours. New in 2019: If you create small works of art or crafts (mini paintings, decorative bookmarks, cards, knitted or sewn items) that you think can sell for between $2 and $15 apiece, consider donating them to our Small Handicrafts Table. The form to donate is here.
  • Consider offering a skit on Auction night. Auction night features a limited number of skits showcasing items in the Vocal Auction.  Skits MUST be less than 60 seconds in length (in other words, really, really short) and are performed prior to bidding on the item (though scheduling can vary).  We offer attendees the chance to vote for their favorite skit (the attendees pay to vote, all proceeds to UUCC), with the skit getting the most votes receiving a nominal award (which we try to make fun).  To enter the skit contest, use the link in the donation form.  You can also decide to offer a skit after you post your donation – for more information, and to enter the contest, use this link:

Event Dates, Delivery/Pickup Dates, and Other Scheduling Issues


Most donated Auction events are scheduled for a specific date and time.  Occasionally, for events with small numbers of potential buyers, the date and time may be arranged between the donor and winning bidders.  As discussed under “Did My Donated Item Sell,” it’s easier for people to bid on Auction items if they know when the event is going to be held.

If you plan, like most donors, to have your event occur on a specific date or dates, please consult the UUCC Congregational Calendar and the UUCC Auction Calendar to minimize date conflicts.

Check your proposed event date for date conflicts.

Enter your proposed event date in the field below (mm/dd/yyyy), then click buttons to view each calendar.

UUCC Calendar     Auction Calendar

If you intend to hold your donated Auction event at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center (OBIC – UUCC’s home), do not pick a date or submit your auction donation until you have the space reserved.  Space fills up quickly, so make your reservation right away.  Consult the interior map of OBIC (, page 2), showing the available spaces.  If you will need the serving kitchen (pantry), make sure you also reserve it.  To reserve OBIC space, contact ‘Chon Cottman, UUCC Office Assistant, at (410) 381-0097 or

Getaways and Events Associated with Tickets, Gift Cards & Services:

You can also specify an event date (or event start date, in the case of getaways) for these, in an appropriate case.

Foods & Tangible Items:

Generally, these are either brought to the Auction, where they are picked up by successful bidders; or delivery/pickup is arranged by donor and buyer. Remember that if you bring a donated item to the Auction, and the item doesn’t sell, you are responsible for taking it home by the end of the Auction ( ).

Submitting an Auction Donation – General Guidelines

  • Use the Donation form at
  • A separate form must be completed for each item donated. Exception: multiple identical items can be combined on a single donation form.  “Identical” means identical in all respects, including scheduling/date/time.  Details:
  • During the submission of your donated item on the form, you will receive a confirmation email. This email will contain a “shortcut link” which will allow you to prefill your name and contact information in subsequent donations.  This feature is useful for people who have several auction donations.
  • If you submit multiple donations, the titles of the donations must be unique (no duplicate titles). You may give the same donation title to items in different Auction years.
  • The Auction database doesn’t allow vertical line spaces, aka “line feed,” “ENTER,” or “Carriage Return,” in your content. If you use vertical line spaces in a field in the donation form, they will be converted to the text [NL] (for “new line”).  These will be converted to horizontal spaces for the hard-copy catalog, but back to vertical line spaces for the online catalog.
  • Images are important for the Online Catalog. (They don’t appear in the hard-copy catalog.)  We encourage you to provide images specific to your donated item.  More about submitting images for your Auction donation is at
  • If you aren’t able to make the form work, please consult a member of the Auction Team at Coffee Hour, or email Laurie Coltri, Auction Web Goddess, at
  • Your Auction donation will appear in the Online Auction Catalog within 24-72 hours after submission. Thank you for your donation!