School Auction Planning: 4 Ways to Engage Your Community

23 May 2023 By Guest Post

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School auctions take a village, but often most of the work comes down to a few PTA go-getters. Between managing volunteers, procuring enticing items, and promoting your auction beforehand, your school event planners can likely benefit from delegating some of their responsibilities.

To make your event go off without a hitch, invite your entire school body to lend a helping hand. Plus, you never know, someone might suggest a new strategy that might drive up revenue.

There are several ways to engage every member of your school’s community, so don’t write anyone off too soon. Instead, explore these four strategies for successful auction planning:

  1. Offer Incentives
  2. Delegate Responsibilities
  3. Partner with Student Programs
  4. Recognize Top Contributors

A holistic approach to auction planning will help your school realize its fundraising goals faster. And, with some of the planning pressure off, your PTA can focus on the top-level task of making the event night a positive experience for attendees. Let’s dive in!

Offer Incentives

The best way to get more people involved: offer incentives. Put yourself in the shoes of your students, teachers, and other members of your school’s community to decide which incentives would catch their attention.

For example, a teacher may be inclined to volunteer if given a half day off. Students, on the other hand, may decide to help out with the auction night set up for a free lunch off campus. Your incentives will differ depending on your school, so just make sure you choose ones that are relevant to your community.

Some other popular incentives include:

  • Free admission. This one’s a no-brainer. Hardworking volunteers and other auction planners should receive free admission to the big event night.
  • Events. Consider throwing a special volunteer appreciation event after your auction as a thank-you to your planning team. Go for a casual ice cream party or a fancier dinner based on which will most incentivize participation.
  • Parking or carpool pass. Make it easy on your volunteers by securing them a parking space for helping out. You can also provide them with a carpool pass to simplify morning drop off and afternoon pick up.
  • Dress code pass. Depending on your school’s dress code or uniform rules, you can offer student volunteers the chance to wear their own clothes as an incentive to help out. Just be sure you outline acceptable attire.

Decide your incentives ahead of time, so you can jump straight into persuading potential volunteers, PTA members, and school faculty to help out.

Delegate Responsibilities

Defining roles and responsibilities ahead of time will help your school check everything off its auction planning list. That way, no one is stuck making last-minute preparations.

Your school’s organizations and connections are unique. However, there are a couple of leadership committees that you most likely have in some form—PTA, student council, and booster club. Leverage each of these committees to unify and accelerate your auction planning.

Here’s how you might delegate auction tasks:

  • PTA: PTAs are who people usually think of when school fundraising comes to mind. But, that doesn’t mean this committee needs to cover every planning task. Instead, PTAs can focus on handling the big picture to-dos like auction item procurement, venue selection, and silent auction software oversight. Because PTA members often have business connections within their personal and professional networks, they are the best bet for spearheading these tasks.
  • Booster Club: Booster clubs are focused on providing resources and financial support to enhance the educational experience. Naturally, booster clubs are equipped to handle finances, budgeting, and donations related to your school auction. They can also help review auction rules and make necessary process adjustments.
  • Student Council: Your student council focuses on training the next generation of leaders by teaching students teamwork and problem-solving skills. Rely on them to create promotional materials and help out with event day set-up and clean-up. High school students especially have a knack for creating eye-catching graphics to post on Instagram or print out on school flyers.

Utilize the school’s organizations to delegate tasks efficiently. By collaborating with different governing bodies, your school can create a thought-out auction planning strategy to reduce confusion and manage tasks.

Partner with Student Programs

Beyond the student council, there are other student clubs and departments that can help your team plan and execute a stellar auction fundraiser. Plus, engaging students will allow them to enjoy a break from academics and hone their individual skills.

Here are some additional school programs to partner with that you might not have thought of:

  • Art Departments: Student artwork makes for a unique auction item. Consider partnering with your school’s art department to scout for artists willing to display their designs, paintings, or ceramics at your upcoming auction. You could also ask for their help designing eye-catching auction banners to welcome guests.
  • Honors Club: Volunteering is a resume builder for many high school students looking to get into top colleges. Reach out to your school’s honor club to gauge volunteer interest. Many honors clubs have a minimum volunteer hour requirement, so a school auction may be the event a few members need to complete their hours.
  • Music Department: Need entertainment for your auction night? Think about contacting your school’s music department to look for student volunteers to provide musical entertainment for your silent auction. You could go for all instrumental or encourage students to sing some catchy, laid-back tunes.
  • Photography Department: If your auction is online, you’ll need clear photographs depicting your auction items. Partner with your school’s photography department to photograph items in the right light and with enough detail to inspire bids. On the flip side, if your auction is in-person, ask for photography students to capture the event night and use the photos as a part of your thank-you notes for guests.

Diversifying your planning committee with student organizations can bring in new perspectives and make the event night special. Make sure every party involved knows who to report to should any questions arise. For instance, NXUnite’s event planning guide suggests naming a volunteer recruitment coordinator.

Recognize Top Contributors

Show your appreciation to all parties involved in auction event planning. Everyone likes to feel valued for their contributions and this instills a sense of teamwork once the event is over. Thanking your contributors will also make them more receptive to future asks as they’ll know their hard work is appreciated.

Here are some ways you can say thank you:

  • Public recognition. Before your event begins, consider making a short speech to recognize your top auction volunteers and planning committee members publicly. Make a toast and ask for a round of applause for their efforts. Be specific and write a list of names beforehand so you don’t miss anyone.
  • Thank you notes. Write thank-you notes to donors, volunteers, and planning committee leaders. Make sure these are specific, personal, and sent promptly. To make the writing process quicker, you use digital tools like eCardWidget’s customizable eCards to promptly express gratitude.
  • Gifts. There are probably a few lead contributors that put in some extra hours to pull off an effective fundraiser. Thank these hardworking individuals with a meaningful gift like a dinner certificate or a bouquet of flowers, and add a personalized note to your gift to make them feel extra valued.

With busy school schedules, all volunteers, donors, and planning committee members should be recognized for their efforts. Not to mention, gratitude creates a positive community culture that will be noticed and felt by your auction guests.

Successful school auctions require open communication and teamwork. Recruit various planning committees and student organizations to collaborate on your fundraiser and make sure all tasks are covered. Add incentives for each party and thank them for their individual contributions. To your auction planning success!

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