Many of our clients have a large board involved with their event and one of them uses the twenty or so board members in a very interesting and productive way. They assemble a list of probable live auction items and send the list out to each board member and ask them to rate them from most interesting to least. The results were not only interesting, but they represented a good portion of the attending crowd and even i was suprised by what they liked and what they didn't.
The other result from the inquiry was that it got board members to suggest enhancements that they could add and even got a few of them to suggest entirely new auction lots that they came up with after seeing what other people donated.
All in all anything that gets the board more involved and gives them the opportunity to participate is a win-win situation. It also starts the "buzz" from the top down as the board members start talking up the great auction lots at this years event to friends, family and other supporters who will be or should be attending .