37 Must-Have School Auction Ideas to Help You Raise More
37 Must-Have School Auction Ideas to Help You Raise More
Are you a school fundraising newbie looking for some top-notch auction items? If it’s your first time scouting for donated items, we’ve got some gems lined up for you. Browse our list of 37 items to stock in your next school auction.
Before we dive into our top picks, we’ll cover the basics of school auction fundraising and provide all of our ideas for enticing auction items. Here’s an overview of everything we’ll explore:
- What is a School Fundraising Auction?
- Top School Auction Ideas for Parents
- Top School Auction Ideas for Elementary Schools
- Top School Auction Ideas for High Schools
- Top School Auction Ideas for Teachers
- Tips for a Successful School Auction Fundraiser
When picking your auction’s next top prizes, keep in mind that different items tend to draw different crowds. Browse through our lists or jump straight to the section most relevant to you based on your school’s budget, grade level, or any other factors that impact your auction.
What is a School Fundraising Auction?
School auctions are fundraising events that earn revenue by inviting guests to bid on head-turning donated items. While these events require a significant investment of time and resources, auctions are also flexible and can be run in person or online. Plus, efficiently run events can turn out a hefty profit!
That’s why, in the world of school auction fundraising, planning is make or break. Consider who will be attending, what your fundraising goal is, if your event will be on or offline, and any other data you have from past events to make your plan as detailed as possible.
Without further ado, let’s break down our top items destined to cause a paddle-raising stir
Top School Auction Ideas for Parents
Parents deserve a break now and then. Auction off relaxing items that will catch their attention. Specifically, parents usually enjoy experience packages that let them take it easy and destress. Here are a few of our top ideas for parents at your school.
Parent Getaway Package
If there is an auction item that will always sell, it’s the parent getaway package. Consider asking a family to donate their newly renovated lake house for a weekend, or look for a great deal on AirBNB. These packages are fantastic for:
- Competitive bidding
- Revenue generation
- Getting parents involved
Parent getaway packages can vary by price and experience.
Home services are known for their flexibility as you can easily offer personalized home services based on your bidder’s interests. You can auction off services for:
- Home decorating
Survey your parent and teacher base to find capable professionals willing to auction off their services. If your auction has a theme, recruit services that fit into it. For instance, a “get outside” auction theme could include gardening home services.
Is there a better way to relax and rewind than a spa day? You can tailor this package based on your guests’ interests and spending capacity. For instance, a collection of bath products like designer soap and fluffy robes can create a tempting at-home spa package.
On the other hand, an all-inclusive spa getaway weekend is also enticing. A spa experience package complete with facials, manicures, and massages is a glamorous auction item alternative.
Childcare packages provide parents with the freedom to enjoy a day out while feeling reassured their kids are taken care of. Everyone could use some me time! Recruit reputable daycare providers, after-school programs, babysitters, or professional nanny services to donate their services as auction items.
Consider offering some board games, movies and popcorn, or pool day options to make it a fun day for the kids too!
Reach out to local restaurants and compile a list of potential dinner spots to advertise as a part of your date night package. These packages can vary in cost and experience. Here are some best-selling ideas:
- Sports tickets for two
- Fine dining
- Two-night stay at an upscale hotel
- Wine tasting
- Shopping spree
- Cooking classes
You can offer multiple date night experiences at the same auction since there will be many different couples, each with their own preferences. Provide a range of date night options to get the best results. Consider bundling your date night auction ideas together for a wider range of experiences per lot.
Introducing the golf package, a certified dad favorite. This one is sure to cause a bidding war amongst avid golfers. You can advertise this package based on equipment such as golf clubs, golf tees, golf balls, and golf gloves.
To make this package even sweeter, if there are any retired golf trainers or professionals in your community, ask if they’d be interested in donating lessons.
Parents love fine dining, especially when they recognize that their bid is going to help further their kid’s education. Plus, fine dining is another incredibly marketable auction item.
For high-budget school auctions, check if there are any five-star, cutting-edge restaurants nearby. Contact the manager to find information about available reservation offerings or additional special packages.
Game Day Tickets
Event tickets offer unforgettable experiences to bidders. College, professional, minor-league, and season tickets can all be up for grabs. Check out available season tickets within your area and ask around for donations.
Think about throwing in some related sports memorabilia. Provide your bidders with a game experience and the jersey to go along with it!
Lake or Beach House Weekend
As you can imagine, these auction weekends are big sellers.
If there are families at your school that have access to a vacation home, ask if they’d be willing to donate their vacation house for a weekend getaway. Bundle the getaway with shopping certificates, recommended local restaurants and their respective gift cards, or fun board games.
Organize a cooking basket for your auction bidders. This basket could include fresh ingredients, spices, wine, and step-by-step recipes. Add new kitchen appliances like a stainless steel mixing bowl to increase the appeal.
Or, offer two free spots for one class in a local culinary program. Discover which meal the class will make ahead of time to market to bidders.
Winery or Wine Wall
Wine walls or wine pulls are awesome auction attractions. Run a wine wall by covering wine bottle labels and encouraging supporters to pay a fixed price to participate. Differentiate each wine by price ranging from around $20 to priceless.
From there, place your corks with corresponding numbers into a glass bowl and have attendees try their luck to select the highest-value wine. Wine walls or wine pulls are a fun take on regular auction ideas because they add an extra layer of mystery. This item is great for auction risk-takers.
Top School Auction Ideas for Elementary Schools
Parents can attest that a simple schedule change can make an ordinary day feel like an adventure for their kids. That’s why elementary school auction ideas do not need to be very complicated to make a big impact.
The following elementary auction ideas won’t break your school budget either. These special perks can get kids excited and give parents a prize of their own. Plus, who doesn’t want to be the parent who surprises their kid with a fun auction prize?
Valuing the simple things, touch-a-truck auction items are a big deal to elementary schoolers. They are interactive experiences available for children to touch and learn about city department cars and car owners. Kids will be thrilled to meet a “real-life firefighter, police officer, or racecar driver”.
Contact your local city departments to create a list of potential touch-a-truck auction items. Kids who have a need for speed will be psyched to participate in this fun and unique experience.
A carpool pass can be like an adult-level theme park fast pass. Waiting in a carpool line can be an absolute hassle, especially after a long day of work, so a nifty carpool pass saves time and stress.
Print out the pass for the highest bidder to tag onto their windshield and breeze by the other cars waiting in the pick-up line!
Principal privilege or principal for a day is an enticing auction item for any elementary school kid. If you had all the authority, what sort of policies would you pass as principal for a day?
Before you worry that principal privilege grants too much power, lay out some fun perks to keep the principal role practical. These perks can include:
- Hosting morning announcements
- Carpool greeter
- Moving assigned seats around
- Lunch with the real principal
- Private tour of special classrooms
Kids grow up so fast. Give a parent the opportunity to capture their smiles for their entire academic career! School photos can feel like an added extra cost, so getting school photos for life is a huge win.
Throw in a couple of extra prizes like a family photoshoot to sweeten the deal.
New Rule for a Day
As an extension of or paired with “principal privilege,” consider auctioning off the ability for one kid to enforce a school rule for the day. These rules can be silly or practical. Some new school legislation could be:
- Wear a specific color
- Standing class
- Skip through the hallways
- Umbrellas inside
- Use erase boards in all lessons
Ahead of time, compile a list of potential rules for the winning bidder to choose from.
Fun in the sun is a big attraction for little kids. Offer a pool day as a prime auction item. Your pool day package could include pool toys, water guns, towels, flip-flops, sunscreen, and goggles.
Ask around to discover which families have access to a stellar neighborhood pool or contact your local aquatic center to donate swim lessons. Consider auctioning a kiddie pool or slip-n-slide if you’re short on pool options.
Use your auction to put classroom talent on display! Partner with your art program to plan beautiful art projects to auction off. Or, encourage students to participate by offering extra credit to those who donate.
Paintings, sculptures, and pottery can be sweet, meaningful auction items that bring in significant revenue.
Have kids select their favorite museum to bring their class to. Museums offer both entertainment and educational value. Contact these museum types:
- Art museums
- Nature centers
- Natural history museums
Zoos are another great option. Check to see local exhibits to feature within your auction strategy. You can either auction this idea as an individual museum adventure or as the ability to choose which museum for the class to visit.
For the readers of the group, library privileges can be a huge selling point. These privileges can vary per grade. They can look like:
- Extra reading time
- Checking out an extra book or two
- Choice of library pillow or reading spot
- Choice of an extra book to purchase
- Choice of next mystery reader and book read aloud
Library privileges will likely also earn support from parents, who are happy to help kids win experiences that will inspire them to read more.
Field Trip of Choice
Field trips are some of the most exciting adventures as a kid. Provide different field trip options for kids to choose from or auction off a surprise field trip! The winning bidder can choose where the class field trip is going to take place.
Partner with your teachers to work a trip into their lesson plans. Be as creative as you want with these field trip choices:
- Local city department tours
- Dance lessons
- VIP museum visits
- Acting classes at the local theater
- Ice skating lessons
- Sports game
Ice Cream Party
There’s nothing like ice cream to satisfy a kid’s sweet tooth! Contact local ice cream or shaved ice trucks for a fun after-school activity. Or, pool together resources to create an ice cream buffet.
Additionally, your ice cream auction item can work well as a package. Just gather an ice cream maker, scooper, fun bowls, and some ice cream quarts to auction off.
Top School Auction Ideas for High Schools
If you’re a parent of a high schooler you know they value freedom, social opportunities, and exciting experiences. In an auction context, these high school wants are pretty easy to transfer to auction items.
For high school auctions, don’t underestimate the value of special perks and material items. In fact, these items are very easy to procure and can make a big difference in the lives of any high school student. Upgrade your school auction ideas with these high school-centric items.
If your school is strict with onsite lunchroom policies, consider using an off-site lunch as an auctionable item.
That way you can offer high schoolers to catch a break from the lunchroom doldrums and enjoy an off-site lunch. You can present this auction item as a series of off-site lunch passes and gift cards.
Prime Parking Spot
Make a teacher’s or parent’s life just a little bit easier by offering up a prime parking spot. Consider hanging a sign or using special paint to mark off the parking spot ahead of time and generate some buzz.
A spot on school grounds or a pass within the neighboring city can strike up an intense bidding war. Add some extra car goodies and a free oil change and this auction item gets elevated to the next level.
Another school-specific auction idea is spirit wear privileges. If your school has uniforms or a strict dress code, spirit wear privilege can be a nice change of pace. Bidders can compete for a chance to wear casual/nonuniform clothes for a day.
Drive-in Movie Tickets
Add an old-school flair to your high school auction items. Offer drive-in movie tickets for a fun family or date night experience. If your town does not have a local drive-in, no worries! Put together a drive-in bundle comprised of:
- A movie projector and screen
- Comfy blankets
- One month Netflix or Amazon Prime subscription
Bring Your Pet to School
Bring your furry best friend for a day. Class schedules are much more interesting with your pet in your lap. Additionally, this school auction idea is super low-budget for your school. However, be mindful of student and staff allergies.
For a similar experience, consider pet-a-pup privileges for high school students during peak exam season. Gather volunteer pet owners and their pets for students to enjoy a relaxing, carefree break from studying while petting cute pups.
Shadow Your Favorite Teacher for a Day
High school students typically have a favorite teacher or two whose class they particularly enjoy. Offer students the chance to shadow a teacher of their choice! As a part of their shadowing experience, they can:
- Review and manage lesson plans
- Teach for a day
- Have lunch in the teacher breakroom
- Answer teacher-directed questions
This experience is especially valuable for seniors wanting to pursue a career in education or just have fun hanging out with their favorite teacher.
Meet a Celebrity
Do you have any small-town celebrities or school families with big-time celebrity connections? Reach out to previous high school alumni in addition to your current school community to discover a celebrity connection.
Auction a lunch with an acclaimed chef, a private concert with a well-known music artist, or a one-on-one basketball lesson with a retired professional player.
Art Student Spotlight
Does your school have an advanced art program? Among high school students (especially juniors and seniors) there is most likely a talented artist or two. Reach out to the school art teacher to select a couple of masterpieces to auction off.
You could build momentum for the event by creating an art contest ahead of time. Have each artist provide a short description of their work for the emcee to read off on auction night.
Choose the Prom Theme
Auction off the chance to select your school’s prom theme! Creative prom themes could look like:
- Star Wars themed
- Circus themed
- Jungle themed
- Christmas themed
- Masquerade themed
Top School Auction Ideas for Teachers
These auction items can either be bid on by teachers or by parents to gift to teachers. Think about including items that would specifically interest your school’s teaching staff. Which items would make them smile, give them a break, or make them excited to keep pouring into the next generation?
Overall, this teacher-centered list has hints of relaxation with the goal of giving these hard-working folks a well-deserved respite.
Pro Tip: To boost teacher attendance, offer your teaching staff free admission to your next school auction.
Teacher Gift Basket
Highlight a teacher’s commitment to your school with a teacher gift basket. These baskets provide a special opportunity for parents or teachers to bid on items. Tempt a teacher to bid on a basket with:
- A snazzy coffee tumbler
- Relaxing candle
- New agenda/planner
- Smooth-writing pens
Assistant for a Day
PTA members often feel like there are not enough hours in a day. You can put extra time up as a prize by auctioning off an assistant for a day. The 24-hour assistant will be a capable volunteer ready and willing to help out.
The winner can have their assistant:
- Run errands
- Complete household chores
Say goodbye to the never-ending task list with a 24-hour assistant!
Teacher Half Day/Vacation Day
Offer a teacher the chance to cash in an extra half day or vacation day. Be prepared to hire a substitute teacher or have another teacher volunteer to cover their class ahead of time to cover their absence. Include quality auction-item add-ons like a massage certificate, manicure certificate, or select gift cards.
Winery or Brewery Tour
An adults-only wine or brewery tour is always a hot ticket school auction item. This idea is scalable, so your school could advertise anything from a donated wine tasting to a full-scale vineyard tour.
Organize a basket with a gift certificate to some local breweries and select beers.
Dance Class Pass
Ever wanted to learn how to salsa, but never found the time? Auction off a dance class pass to parents and teachers. This pass could be for a Zumba class, a two-on-one dance instruction, or any other dancing opportunities in your community.
Leverage your school community to find the perfect dance instructor and set your auction to the right rhythm!
A basket full of skincare products or a skincare subscription can draw some impressive bids from the right auction guests. Your skincare auction items could include:
- A one-one meeting with a skincare consultant
- Gift card for a reputable skincare brand
- Gift basket of assorted products
Tips for a Successful School Auction Fundraiser
Now that you’ve established some show-stopping auction items, it’s time to begin planning for the day of the event!
- **Choose an auction format. **You can choose to run an online or in-person auction and decide whether to make it silent or live (or both!). In comparison to an online auction, an in-person auction takes more effort to plan but historically raises more funds. You can also host an auction that kicks off with a live event but has extended online bidding afterward.
- Recruit dedicated coordinators. Teachers, parents, and even students are great volunteers to recruit for your school fundraiser. Choose dedicated coordinators for your auction chair, co-chair, ticket sales chair, auctioneer, and event team.
- Use tried and true software to organize your auction. The right software will make your school auction a breeze with streamlined data management. Flexible auction software offers mobile bidding and multiple payment processing options, so your guests can easily bid from anywhere.
- Gather quality donated items. Auctioning off high-value auction items will bolster your fundraising efforts. Take time to understand your core audience preferences and gather items accordingly. Offer prizes that are a variety of price points, so all guests will have something to bid on.
- Promote your auction items ahead of time. Pick an auction theme such as date night or nature adventure theme and promote your items on multiple platforms. Leverage social media and school announcements to provide a countdown until auction night.
- Express gratitude for your donor’s participation. Build connections with your guests after your auction by thanking your donors quickly following the event. Handwrite thank you cards to express your gratitude for their contributions. Reference the direct impact they created for your school.
Hungry for more school auction ideas? Check out some of our top school auction resources below.
How to Invite Bidders to Your Online Auction - Discover our top tips for inviting bidders to your next online auction.
Why Emphasize Donor Appreciation? - Build connections long after your auction’s end. Learn how and why to thank your generous donors.
Is Your Online Auction Set Up The Way You Want? - For online auctions, how you set up your catalog and other pages can directly influence bids. Discover how to use schoolauction.net’s software to perfect your online auction.