What’s a Chinese Auction? Overview & 10+ Facts

Whether you refer to them as Chinese auctions or by a different name, you have almost likely heard of these fundraising activities. They have been a fundraiser mainstay for decades, and for good reason.

Chinese auctions are popular with both organizations and funders because they are entertaining and profitable. They provide the experience of a traditional charity auction in a less formal setting. In addition, they often need less time and organizing resources than auction-style events.

What’s a Chinese Auction?

The phrase “Chinese auction” refers to any silent auction where buyers purchase and submit tickets in the hopes of winning a prize. These auctions frequently function as charity fundraisers since they may generate substantial money.

What’s a Chinese Auction?

It is quite inexpensive to organize a Chinese auction, as just prizes, tickets, and sometimes an auctioneer are required. Typically, local companies or people give the prizes for most fundraising events.

A Chinese auction is not of Chinese origin, and some may find this phrase archaic or politically insensitive. There are other alternatives to the name “Chinese auction,” such as “chance auction,” “penny social,” and “tricky tray.”

The History Of the Fundraising Term

Let’s take a step back and examine the roots of the phrase “Chinese auction” as well as contemporary alternatives.

Why Is It Called Chinese Auction?

Actually, the origin of the name Chinese auction is rather intriguing, since there are two unique explanations. In the 19th century, the word Chinese had a racial connotation since it referred to a person’s low cost of living. This is thought to be the original reason this phrase came into use.

However, history suggests that this phrase originally referred to anything strange and interesting.

Given the potentially unpleasant and racist history of its name, we recommend choosing a different title for your auction, such as a chance auction, a basket auction, or a difficult tray.

What this Means Today

“Chinese auction” is an outmoded phrase that many Organizations are seeking to change, particularly in light of rising concerns for racial inclusion and equity in our institutions, organizations, and public forums, as well as the effects of the COVID-19 epidemic on Asian-American communities.

Alternative names for Chinese auctions have been compiled by our team.

Modern Alternatives To “Chinese Auction”

Knowing the origin of the phrase, other names for “Chinese auction” have been devised.

This list includes:

  • Penny Novelties (this is the most popular)
  • Tricky Trays Prize-Winner
  • Dinners with Lucky Numbers and Chance Auctions

All of these terms are used for raffle-style fundraising events and function almost identically to the obsolete term “Chinese auctions.”

Today’s society must continue to evolve and recognize the significance of social awareness and responsiveness. Especially for organizations seeking to sustain audience growth in 2020 and beyond!

Now that we’ve studied the phrase’s history and meaning, let’s explain how penny socials function.

How to Organize a Chinese Auction

How is a Chinese auction conducted? As stated previously, Chinese auctions are a form of silent auction. In a silent auction, buyers go through a room filled with things displayed on tables.

What’s a Chinese Auction?

If they wish to bid on something, they put their offer on a sheet of paper. Everyone can view the most recent offer. When the auction concludes, the item with the highest bid wins.

Now, at a Chinese auction, objects up for bidding are displayed on tables. In this instance, though, bidders purchase tickets. If a bidder desires an item, he or she may place as many tickets as desired in the container adjacent to the item.

At the conclusion of the auction, a raffle is held to select winners for each item.

When organizing an auction, you must consider the containers for the bidders’ tickets. You must pick between opaque and transparent containers.

Transparent containers allow bidders to see how many other individuals have submitted bids for a certain item. With solid containers, the bidder’s probabilities are shrouded in additional uncertainty.

If our school were to organize a Chinese auction, we would utilize sturdy containers such as shoe boxes or cardboard boxes to preserve the element of surprise (and since they are inexpensive/free)!

Chinese Auction Rules

Now that you have a general concept of how to construct a Chinese auction, let’s examine the regulations of Chinese auctions in further depth.

Bidders get raffle tickets, which may be sold individually or in sets. The number of tickets you offer in a set and the price of each ticket will vary based on the quantity and nature of the things up for bid.

Set a time limit for bidding, allowing participants time to peruse the auction space and pick which things they will bid on. Ensure that the finish time of the auction is obvious.

When the bidding period has expired, collect the ticket containers and prizes. Pick the winner of the raffle and announce it.

The winner claims his or her reward.

Chinese Auction Tickets

What about the auction tickets from China? You will need some sort of raffle tickets for bidders to utilize when bidding on the items they desire. Alternatively, you might make your own raffle tickets.

The quantity of raffle tickets required will depend on the number of attendees as well as the pricing structure for the tickets.

What’s a Chinese Auction?

For instance, if 10 tickets cost $10 and there are 100 attendees, the price per ticket would be $10. You may anticipate that each guest will purchase at least one ticket. Thus, a minimum of 1,000 raffle tickets would be required.

However, given that this is a low-cost item, I would suggest increasing the quantity to 2,000. This eliminates the need to worry about running out of raffle tickets.

You may also select a hue that complements the subject of your event or your school’s colors!

This will rely on the sorts of rewards offered when determining ticket costs. Generally speaking, the cost of raffle tickets is low. In addition, you must ensure that your revenue exceeds your costs.

Consider giving a discount to encourage the purchase of more tickets when setting the price of your tickets. For instance, $1 for a single ticket and $5 for six tickets.

Getting Items To Bid On

Finding auction products that people would want to buy on is another important aspect of a successful Chinese auction. Additionally, we anticipate that at least some, if not all, of the things will be contributed by local companies.

Local businesses, alumni, and church members who wish to help our school give a broad selection of auction goods each year.

Examples of auction products include restaurant and retail gift cards, handbags, jewelry, toys, and vacation gear. Typically, local companies are eager to offer merchandise or gift cards in return for a marketing chance.

At our most recent school auction fundraiser, community members donated gift baskets and experiences, which we coordinated by printing and framing photographs.

You might also provide an extravagant grand prize, such as a flight or a weekend retreat.

Chinese Auction Ideas

In addition to the conventional Chinese auction described above, there are other ways to conduct this sort of fundraising event.

Instead of auction participants bidding on individual things, in one scenario the raffle tickets are placed in a central jar. The winning ticket is then selected for each available reward. Each time a winner is selected, he or she chooses a prize from the remaining options.

Alternately, you may do a live auction where participants bid on tickets as each item is revealed. This allows guests to purchase additional raffle tickets as the auction progresses, perhaps resulting in increased raffle ticket sales.

Can I Have A Chinese Auction Online?

It is challenging to come up with school fundraising ideas amid this period of social estrangement. Therefore, you may try holding an online Chinese auction.

Finding a computer-savvy volunteer to set up an online auction would be crucial. Additionally, raffle tickets would be purchased online. You would next need to upload images of the various auction items.

What’s a Chinese Auction?

If winners were selected, they would be contacted by phone or email. You might designate times for individuals to receive their prizes.

This concludes this tutorial on organizing a Chinese auction. Ultimately, if you can successfully collect enough stuff to raffle, this is a fun and simple fundraiser for events with a huge attendance. In addition, it is always possible to hold an online Chinese auction.

Raising Funds With Chinese Auctions

The purchasers may place as many tickets as they like in the fishbowl. At the conclusion of the auction, the winning ticket for each item is pulled from its respective fishbowl.

Clearly, the more the number of tickets deposited into the bowl, the greater the percentage chance of winning the item. This implies that highly desirable things will attract a large number of tickets, just as they would in a traditional auction.

This is one of the major draws of a Chinese auction. The ticket prices are cheap in comparison to the eventual worth of the auction items, so the lucky winners will receive an excellent deal.

And having many ticket purchasers indicates your group’s success!

Types of Chinese auctions

One of the four types of Chinese auctions is not an auction at all. The key distinction between the four categories is how winners are selected.

Regardless of format, all Chinese auctions are silent auctions. Typically, at a silent auction, there is no auctioneer and customers bid on things using a bidding sheet or tickets. Tickets are an integral aspect of these auctions, thus for the event to be successful, there must be a large quantity of tickets available for purchase.

The most well-known Chinese auction style involves displaying several objects, each with its own bowl or bucket nearby. Bidders purchase tickets, examine the products, and then place their tickets in the bucket of the item they wish to bid on. A bidder may place as many tickets as desired in the bucket for a certain item to boost their chances of winning.

An event organizer picks a ticket from the bucket at the conclusion of the auction, and the holder of that ticket wins the item. Tickets are not returned to failed bidders, a characteristic common by all Chinese auctions.

What’s a Chinese Auction?

As in traditional auctions, a single item is shown at a time in a second Chinese auction style with an auctioneer. As the auctioneer describes the item, the event organizers collect the bidders’ tickets. After collecting all of the tickets, the auctioneer selects one ticket to identify the winner.

The third style of Chinese auction utilizes an auctioneer, and one or all of the objects are shown. In this structure, all attendees deposit their tickets at the start of the event. The first winning ticket is awarded the first prize, the second the second, and so on.

A fourth form of Chinese auction is not an auction at all. In this sort of event, each guest brings a wrapped gift of roughly equal value. Then, each participant submits a ticket, and the first individual whose ticket is selected has first selection of a gift. The second individual whose ticket is selected then picks a gift or reward. This continues until each participant has selected a wrapped reward. This form of Chinese auction is comparable to the Christmas party game known as “white elephant” or “Yankee swap.”

Chinese auction fundraiser profit tips

Ticket sales Price your tickets in quantities of 25, 50, and 100. Prepare your ticket packages in advance. Price them evenly to facilitate sales.

Popular things Popular goods include gift cards, gardening supplies, personal spa packages, vacation travel discounts, and consumer gadgets. Also included are celebrity-related and special access-granting items.

Bundle items Frequently, grouping products together will raise more money than selling them separately. Group them into complimentary categories or bundles.

Specialized auctions You may even organize a whole Chinese auction around a certain subject, such as Spring, Christmas, dream packages, holidays, sports, or other popular categories.

Why Chinese Auctions are great fundraising activities

Some may argue that fundraising has gotten increasingly difficult over time. There are only so many bottles of wine one can win in a raffle at the same events held in the same venues. This is why Chinese auctions are the ideal method of fundraising.

What’s a Chinese Auction?

Chinese Auctions have existed for a very long time, although they are not particularly common. This is due in part to the amount of organizing required to get donations and awards. However, if you are prepared to exert effort to win large prizes, you will financially benefit.

There is nothing better than having a reason to get dressed up and leave the house for an evening function. The sophistication of Chinese Auctions encourages individuals to reach deep into their pockets, albeit for a good cause. A night out, the opportunity to dress up, and the potential to win a wonderful prize; it’s little wonder that hosting one is likely to generate substantial profits.


Chinese Auction is something of a hybrid between a raffle and an auction, most commonly organised by fundraisers. Participants buy or win tickets that give them the opportunity to bid on items. A variety of items are for sale and participants can place their bids on any items they wish.

The bids can either all be of an equal fixed amount, or the bidders themselves can specify the individual amounts they are willing to pay for items. When the auction comes to an end, the winning bid is chosen at random. The winning bidder pays whatever amount they bid.

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