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Tips from School Auction Experts

Are you chairing your school auction and not sure where to start? Here are some of the tips we have gathered from several auction leaders we have spoken to. You can hear more tips on running the auction here.

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Tip #1: Put Together a Great Team

You want to get a group of 15-20 people committed to helping you with the auction. You should have clearly defined roles with most roles having 2 people for the role so that you aren’t single threaded. You should consider the following roles:

  • Auction Chair (1)

  • Treasurer (1)

  • Typically the PTA/PTO treasurer

  • Day of Auction Coordinators (2)

  • Silent Auction Leaders (2)

  • Parent Party Leaders (2)

  • Donations Team (4)

  • Marketing/Design (2)

  • Decorations (2)

  • Food/Bar Team (2)

  • Only needed if you are responsible for coordinating any food or drink items

Tip #2: Select a Large, Open Venue

Sometimes auction chairs select venues with a separate room for silent auctions. However, this can really disrupt the flow of the event as well as curtail bidding on the silent auction items. Choose a space that fits everyone in one larger room. Consult with the location event coordinator for the best way to lay it out.

In terms of number of attendees, consult past auction event numbers as a guide. If you don’t have that, you can make an assumption that 30-50% of parents will attend as a guide.

If you will be serving alcohol, make sure that there are at least two bars, on opposite sides of the room, not blocking any of the silent auction items. The bars will be busy at the outset of the event and you want to make sure you can minimize crowding.

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Tip #3: Do a Dry Run, Before The Event

Things can, and likely will, deviate from the plan. But the last thing you want is to have a mic that doesn’t work or not realize that the set up you envisioned doesn’t work because of fire code. It is really important to do a walk through, at the venue, and test out the wifi, the speakers and mics, and the general layout. Doing this dry run a week or more before gives you enough time to correct anything. During this dry run also make sure that if you have an online component, you actually ask people to login from multiple different devices and from a different location just so your dry run can cover as many variables as possible.

Tip #4: Select Easy Technology

Because the auction committee changes annually, it is really important to have software that is really easy to use and learn. You also want to make sure that it's cost-effective – consider both the cost of the software and the credit card processing fees. Ease of use on multiple devices (phones, computers, etc) and with multiple browsers is also a bonus because that will minimize questions from parent users.

Being an auction chair is a lot of work but can also be a lot of fun and have a huge impact on programs for your school. We appreciate your time and hope this blog will give you a couple of tips to make your event go more smoothly. If you have additional ideas, send them our way.

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