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Tips from School Auction Experts

Updated: May 26, 2023

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

Table with Party Goods

School Auction 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 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

School Auction Tip #2: Select a Large, Open Venue

Sometimes auction chairs select venues with a separate room for silent auctions. However, this can 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.

Regarding the number of attendees, consult past auction event numbers as a guide. If you don’t have that, you can assume that 30-50% of parents will attend as a guide.

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

Lights on an Awning
Event Lights

School Auction 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 setup you envisioned doesn’t work because of fire code. It is really important to do a walk-through at the venue and test 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, ensure you have an online component; you ask people to log in from multiple devices and locations so your dry run can cover as many variables as possible.

Tip #4: Select Easy Technology

Because the auction committee changes annually, it is important to have easy-to-use and learn software. You also want to ensure it's cost-effective – consider both the software cost 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 some tips to make your event go more smoothly. If you have additional ideas, send them our way.



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