I’m working with a lot of schools right now as this is the height of school auction season. In keeping with the season, here’s an idea specifically for you school auction committees.
I’m often asked for ideas for items that a committee can procure for “free.”
By “free,” the committee means they won’t have to ask a company for a donation. It can also reference the fact that the item itself doesn’t have a hard financial value associated to it.
Some more common examples of free items are below.
10 free school auction ideas for items
- VIP seats to graduation or another event of significance, such as the spring musical program or Christmas Eve mass.
- Headmaster for a Day / Security officer for a Day / School Chef for a Day / School Nurse for a Day / etc.
- Name the playground /Name the Driveway / Name the Study Hall
- Reserved parking spaces for parents or students old enough to drive
- Student gets to be the reader for morning announcements
- Fly your university’s colors on the school flag pole for one day
- Pull the school fire alarm during the next fire alarm drill
- First spot in the carpool lane /pick-up lane / drop-off lane
- Out of uniform day or week for a child /class /grade
- Food service for a year for your child’s lunch meals
Another creative “free” donation is the opportunity to paint a school Spirit Rock.
What’s a Spirit Rock?
It’s a large rock, often placed at the end of the school driveway, near the playing fields, or at another visible area on campus. The winning bidder can paint it however they wish. Usually the rock is large enough that it has multiple sides for painting, allowing the messages to change.
At one school auction, a Spirit Rock sold for $2400 the first year it was offered. Here’s how it was described in the catalog:
“The chance to paint your version of school spirit on the large rock located on the school’s corner entrance can be yours for one year! Buy it yourself, or go in on the bidding with others. Dedicate the rock to your kids, their class(es), a faculty member, a school team or activity, a school milestone event, or whatever is notable to you. The winner of the rock will begin painting the rock in August of the 2014-2015 school year.”
It can be fun to drop one or two of these free items into a school auction line-up — but don’t overdo it. For the strongest auction results, you want to have some items with more concrete values, too.
Last winter I shot a video talking about a Spirit Rock. You can view it below.
For more help on planning a great live auction, check out this master class, Lucrative Live Auctions.
The course is designed to help Auction Chairs improve (or launch) a live auction by teaching about items, ordering, tracking, selling, games specific to the live auction, and more.
Get details here and find out what you’ve been missing in donations.
Sherry Truhlar says
UPDATE: Last night I sold a Spirit Rock for $2000 in a Washington, D.C. auction. The co-chairs had read about the idea on this post.
FREE is great!
Sherry, with large thanks to you and the amazing suggestions on your website, our golf tournament raised $10,000 year one, $14,000 year two and $30,000 year three.
My nephew Kevin was shot and rendered quadriplegic in Philadelphia in 2011—our family had no idea how to fundraise to help cover Kevin’s medical expenses. Five years later, we pretend to be pros; we are so grateful for your great resources!
Just one example….you suggested contacting malls about bag donations. I was expecting shopping bags…I got canvas messenger bags for each golfer. Never would have dreamed about that as a potential donation. And I have a laundry list of great ideas “lifted” from you.
Can’t wait to see how we do this year!
Sherry Truhlar says
Whoa, what a story. I don’t know if there is a formal name for these types of auctions, but I call them “personal emergency” auctions. It might be an auction for a family when their home burns down, or a fireman is killed and leaves behind young children, or — in your case — an accident that renders the individual with massive unexpected medical bills. I often see these being “once and done” events, but you’ve managed to create some momentum.
First, I’ve no doubt this tournament and your work on it is a needed help to your nephew and his family. Second, that’s a 300% growth in 2 years, Denise. 300%!!!
You should have a real sense of satisfaction on your part for learning new skills to raise this money. I’m a big fan of keeping those brain cells firing by learning and trying new things, and you’re certainly doing that. I’m happy for your success and appreciate you inspiring others in the Red Apple Auctions’ community with your comment. Good luck in 2016!
You are the best! Thank you!