More On High School Auctions

18 Apr 2014 By Roger Devine

I talked a bit the other day about how in high schools, the auction-team is often a coalition of volunteers supporting specific clubs or teams, rather than relying only on the PTA/PTSA/PTO or school foundation. This made coordination an absolute imperative, but it also spreads the work of procurement and ticket sales much more widely - at our HS Auction, each team was limited to procuring two silent auction items and one live auction item (plus unlimited gift cards for the Buy It Now board). How much easier is to to procure two or three items than some unspecified number that can approach 200?

What’s really interesting is that this fragmentation is not as prominent when it comes to guest activity. I expected more of this, but really, the guests bid on whatever they wanted to buy, regardless of which club or team procured it (and thus benefited from its sale).

The one place where the chair explicitly prompted people to fly the flag of their favorite club or team was with a game we played right before the live auction, called “Winner Takes All”. There was an index card on each table, and the people at the tables were encouraged to pass it around and write down:

  • Their Name
  • Their Bid Number
  • An Amount
  • A Club or Team

If a guest did all of this, they were committing to donate that amount as part of this game. The twist? Whichever club or team was responsible for the highest total donation amount received ALL of the money raised in this game. Hence the name, “Winner Takes All”.

There are few things that happen as part of a fundraising auction that I haven’t seen before - this was the first one in a while. And it worked pretty well - at check-out I was expecting a lot of confusion from the guests, but the chair had done an excellent job of explaining it, and there was very little complaining. About half the guests put in a bid, the bids ranged from $10 to $725, and it raised a little over $6,000.