Items That Sell Well at School Auctions

Winding down our series of posts based on the “Best Practices for School Auctions” whitepaper from the Greater Giving Fundraising Excellence Series. Each new post covers the unique challenges school auction planners face, and how to overcome those challenges. Read additional articles: School Auctions Series.

Looking for ideas for your next school auction?

You want to procure items that will attract your guests and generate a little friendly competition on the bidding floor. Below is a list of items that sell well at most school auctions. You can start with this list and talk to your guests and to find out what appeals to them.

  • Class projects especially artwork.
  • Sports memorabilia especially autographed by local sports stars.
  • A guitar played at a special event, e.g. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, signed by the (famous) musician.
  • Script signed by cast members from a TV show or a movie.
  • Poker lesson for ten from a professional poker player/author. Also, an autographed book for each player and personalized chips for the winning bidder.
  • Airline tickets
    (Make sure there are generous time allowances on usage.)
  • Trips and vacations such as cruises, river rafting, balloon rides, helicopter rides, bungee jumping, etc.
    (Always find out any experience or trip caveats (i.e., blackout dates, airfare not included, no more than six people) and state them very clearly on the item description. If this is a live auction Best Practices for School Auctions item, ask the auctioneer to mention any caveats or exceptions when calling the item.)
  • Wine and wine experiences, perhaps tasting lessons for a group from a famous sommelier.
  • Restaurant meals especially at new, hot, “in” restaurants.
  • Quality art and handmade items such as quilts, especially if made by members of the school community.
  • Teacher experiences like a trip to the zoo for three students with a popular teacher.
  • Tickets, backstage passes, or field passes to sporting/musical/theatre events.
  • Packages like dinner out once a month for a year.
    (Package together meals from different restaurants.)
  • A trip on a member’s or parent’s boat or plane.
  • Walk-on part in a TV show, play, opera, etc.
  • Play on a private golf course with two friends and the club member.
    (If you can add a golf pro and make the game a foursome the package will sell for more money.)
  • All-access VIP passes to a film festival or sporting event.
  • Guest appearance on a local radio show.
  • “For a day” experiences such as principal for a day, a banker for a day, retail buyer for a day.
  • Prime parking spot with signage designating the winning bidder.
  • Class-themed packages.

What’s Your Experience?

What sells well at your school auction? Have you ever had an item that sparked an energetic bidding war? What made the item so appealing? What kinds of items don’t sell well at school auctions? Share your thoughts in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.

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