Good Question. I’ve done auctions with as few as 2 items and others with as many as 80, but the best range is somewhere between 6-12.
Don’t get so stuck on the number though, I’m more concerned about quality of items over the quantity. If you have 15 super unique items that all have a broad appeal, by all means I’m open to having 15. However, if you have 15 items and 2 of them are vacations in Mexico and 4 are tickets to local sports teams, that’s where I would step in and help you bring it down under 12 items.
The reason it’s important not to have too many items is that the crowd gets bored. Honestly! I’d love to think that people are captivated by me for 3 hours straight, but after about 30 minutes, it all starts to sound the same no matter how funny my jokes are. Once we’ve lost their attention, we have lost their money. 12 awesome items is pretty much an audience’s limit. Let’s be honest, they’re all waiting for the bar to open back up and the band to start playing anyway.
On the other hand, if you only have 4 stellar items, don’t stress! I’d rather have 4 great items alone than start adding in lots that won’t go for much. It’s important not to kill the momentum during the live auction by selling a dud item. It will affect the bidder’s willingness to bid on future items. If you only have 4 awesome items, I will also sit down with you and go over item suggestions and help you brainstorm where to solicit those items.