Fundraising Auctions at Colleges and Universities

06 Mar 2012 By Roger Devine

Holding an auction is an effective and fun way to raise money. For colleges and universities, it can be a great way to get the entire student body and supporting community to come together in a joint effort in working toward a goal.

The key to any fundraising auction is to make it exciting. This attracts the attention of the community and students who want to either participate in the auction or support it. There are two types of auctions that you could consider and these are the silent auction and the live auction. In order to generate some excitement with a live auction, you should hire a professional auctioneer or, if hiring someone isn’t within the university’s budget, enlist the help of a comedic faculty member or student who can keep the attention of the audience. The faculty may want to consider extending extra course credit to a flamboyant student who agrees to MC the event, so to speak.

A silent auction won’t generate as much excitement, but some interested parties may be more likely to bid in a silent auction. To carry out this auction effectively, each item up for bid must be displayed with a lined sheet of paper and pencil or pen. The paper should note any minimum bid and raise amount requirements. Any interested bidder needs to sign their name along with the amount of their bid and a contact phone number. Anyone interested in outbidding will sign below the last bidder with a higher amount. A silent auction can go on for any given length of time, spanning the course of a few days or merely one afternoon, but the closing time should be prominently displayed for all bidders to see.

Planning the event is just as important as pulling off the actual auction. Try to plan as early as possible to get the best donated items from the community. These items can be slightly used second hand collectibles, like new clothing and household goods, or even baked goods. Ask any local musicians if they would mind donating a copy of their recorded music collection. Local photographers and artists, or even photography and art students, can donate framed copies of their artwork. While there doesn’t need to be a specific theme to the auctioned goods, you need to make sure that you are auctioning off quality items on which people will want to bid.

Early planning is also important so you can reserve a reception hall on campus. Even the basketball court would make an ideal location. You may want to consider holding a spaghetti dinner to occur in conjunction with the auction to earn even more revenue, as you can charge potential bidders for the dinner. Encourage everyone to show up, regardless of whether or not they want to eat and seat these individuals separately.

Make sure that you have staff, preferably of student volunteers and line up any entertainment. This is a great way to give a local band the spotlight. Also, don’t forget to market the event and rally support early. For other tips on college related activities, there are lots of sources, such as