Making Sure Your Committees Are Locked Before Recruiting Volunteers

This post is the fifth in a 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

Putting on a school auction is not a trivial task—there are a lot of moving parts and an incredible amount of details to manage.

To be successful, you’ll need teams of people… and that means committees.

Setting up your auction committees is one of the most important parts of running a great school auction. A well-organized structure provides a strong, reliable framework for mobilizing the army of volunteers you’ll need to get all the work done.

Here’s how to proceed:

  1. Set up your committees now for next year, as soon after this year’s event as possible. The main areas to focus on are:
    • Auction Leadership
    • Procurement
    • Promotion
    • Event Logistics
  2. Evaluate last year’s committee structure and see if there’s anything that needs to be streamlined. Do you need to reassign or consolidate responsibilities? (See Sample Committee List )
  3. Choose committee members carefully. These are people you’ll rely on during the coming year.
  4. Break down every role into a list of tasks (see Sample Committee List below). Determine which skills are needed for each task and how long it will take. This will tell you how many volunteers you’ll need.
    You might want to map it out like this:


Ground Campaign
  • Self-starter
  • Good people skills
  • Good record-keeping skills
Request donations from:
  • Neighborhood merchants
  • Service providers
  • Restaurants
  • Grocery Stores
4 Hours Per Week

Sample Committee List

Below is a list of school auction committees and corresponding responsibilities. For smaller schools these categories can be combined. For larger schools, these categories can be split (for example, responsibility for certain neighborhoods or assigned alphabetically by business name).

Auction Leadership

Ideally a Chair and Assistant Chair

  • Messaging
  • Procurement and revenue
  • Communications
  • Overall management and reporting


  • Ground campaign—request donations from neighborhood merchants, such as service providers, restaurants, grocery, etc.
  • Corporate solicitations—for those organizations with no local presence, the process starts with a procurement letter
  • Local theater tickets (movie and live)
  • Class art project coordinator
  • Class or grade-wide package coordinator
  • Teacher-related packages/items coordinator
  • Boutique/retail solicitations
  • Corporate sponsorship recruitment
  • Catalog ad sales
  • Procurement administration—tracks results, creates packages


  • Weekly newsletter
  • Website
  • Guest list manager and direct marketing manager—identifies grandparents, alumni, aunts and uncles, friends, and family; collects contact data, sends out email and/or mailings.
  • Graphic designer—works on all promotional items to ensure a common look and feel
  • Catalog copywriter
  • Donor communications
  • Class representative—one for each class or grade; coordinates and communicates with parents

Event Logistics

  • Volunteer Coordinator
  • Registration manager—manages online registration, response cards, walk-ins at the event, event check-in
  • Live auction manager
  • Silent auction manager
  • Super Silent auction manager
  • Night-of-event floor manager—interfaces with the venue, parking, food and beverage, entertainment, the auctioneer
  • Boutique manager—manages retail shop open at the event
  • Main room floor manager—manages runners, check-in and check-out personnel; works closely with the night-of-event floor manager
  • Sales manager—manages winning bid and walk-in registrant data entry at the event
  • Check-out manager—works closely with the registration manager, volunteer manager, and night-of-event floor manager
  • Bulk items manager—makes sure all items in a package get checked out together
  • Volunteer manager—manages volunteer check-in, assignments, breaks, meals; works closely with the registration manager, check-out manager, and night-of-event floor manager
  • Supplies manager—named two weeks before the auction, compiles supply lists from various teams, purchases supplies, brings them to the event, and distributes to the appropriate group; available to make a “supply run” on night-of-event if needed
  • Pre- and post-auction sales manager (or online auction manager)
  • Event manager—manages venue, décor and signage, entertainment, flatware, cutlery, catering; works with the night of event floor manager
  • Bar manager—coordinates all liquor donations, tracks inventory, and buys what was not donated, works closely with the event manager and night-of-event floor manager

What’s Your Experience?

How do you set up your committees for your school auction? How do you divide up the tasks into manageable chunks for your volunteers? What strategies do you use to share the workload? Have you found ways to streamline the process? Share your insights in the comments below. We’d love to hear what works for you.

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