Unleashing the Power of School Auction Fundraising

Unleashing the power of school auction fundraising

Experts at Greater Giving offer tips and tools for school auction fundraising success.

School Auction Fundraising is a powerful tool for for that helps both public and private schools reach their goals and increase their impact. Alex St. Pierre, the Client Success Manager at Greater Giving, Matt Gibson, the Premier Accounts Manager, and John Chase, Senior Manager of Client Success discussed strategies for success in this educational webinar for anyone heading back to the classroom this fall.

Watch the Recorded Webinar on Demand

Tip From Greater Giving:

School fundraisers tend to focus on their silent and live auctions, but don’t forget to prioritize the fundraising potential in your admission, Fund-a-Need, sponsorships, and additional revenue enhancers like games, group parties, and raffles.

The Unique Nature of School Auctions

School auctions are different from other nonprofit auctions. They tend to be much more social, and the donors often have a direct connection to the school, typically through a child or grandchild. A great school auction should be oriented toward these points of donor interaction and capitalize on it for fundraising.

When telling the story of your school at the auction, remember you have access to lots of great personal stories you can tell, and draw on that strong connection between donors and the school community.

School Fundraising Timeline

Our data tells us that planning for school fundraisers starts around end of August and September, when volunteer interest is most engaged.

When first setting up your event, establish a timeline at least four months out to start promoting, gathering item donations, selling tickets and soliciting sponsorships. Don’t forget to extend your timeline to after your event, as well, which includes writing thank you letters, sending out a post-event survey, and more.

Create a timeline for the big day, too, to make sure things stay on track!

Trending School Auction Packages

Here are just a few great ideas for school auction packages that are becoming really hot:

  • Principal for the Day: Great for elementary school!
  • A mystery cooler or backpack where the contents are kept secret.
  • Landscaping service: Winner receives a few hours of a project done on their property. This is also a great sponsorship opportunity!
  • Fire Alarm Pull, where a child or adult can pull the official fire alarm.
  • Exclusive parking spots
  • Selling naming rights to something in the school, such as a drinking fountain.

Tip From Greater Giving:

In Greater Giving, you can set up buy-in parties as multiple sale packages with a set price.

Buy-in party Power

Everyone should be doing buy-in parties! Donors attend an event hosted by an individual, group or business that offers a great social draw. This allows many different people to join the event for a set price. These are fantastic for schools where there’s already a big social network. The great thing about buy-in parties is that the hosts can go and personally sell these to their friends!

  • Here are just a few suggestions for buy-in parties:
  • A taco truck parked at a house
  • A barbecue
  • Pickleball party and dinner
  • 3rd Grade Diving Into 4th Grade: This party includes kids, and could be something fun like a pool party.
Download Best Practices for School Auctions

Maximizing Auction Success

Don’t close out your auction on the night of the event. You could close it earlier or the next day. That gives people one more chance to participate in a bidding war.

This focuses your fundraising efforts on people in the room and the activities that are keeping them engaged, and then they won’t be on their phones.

See high amounts of recurring bidders, so be sure to change up your packages.

Consider having a premiere section, and close those items at the event.


  1. Consider keeping your live auction slim and consolidated, and focus on a few great packages over many lower-quality packages.
  2. Don’t close out your auction on the night of the event to keep guests focused on and engaged in the event. Close it earlier in the night, or even the next day, to give guests one more chance to participate in a bidding war.
  3. School auctions tend to see high numbers of recurring bidders from year to year, so be sure to change up your package offerings.
  4. Try having a premiere or super silent auction section at the event, and close those items before the Fund-A-Need.

Tip From Greater Giving:

With Greater Giving’s online ticket sales and mobile bidding option, you can feature your sponsor logos in a lot of different ways to give them plenty of exposure.

Event Sponsorship Packages

Lay out your sponsorship benefits in a clear way. This can turn the conversation away from asking for money to providing tangible offerings in return for sponsorship dollars, framed as a marketing opportunity to your selective audience.

Give sponsors the option to sponsor something at the event aside from giving money, such as a wine wall, a ring toss, or naming rights.

Take every opportunity to highlight that you have sponsorships available!

The Event Night Experience

Events are less formal now than they used to be, with fewer sit-down dinners. Many more events have open floor plans with space and time for people to have a cocktail, and maybe eat dinner in a more flexible manner.

Consider something fun for dinner, like a mashed potato bar or a make-your-own-pizza station.

Open floor plans, cocktail hours, and unconventional dining options are becoming the norm. Capture guest information in advance to streamline registration, and consider allowing guests to save their payment information for faster check-in.

Utilize mobile bidding to simplify the auction process, eliminating the need to display physical items at the event. To enhance the Fund-A-Need portion, use school-themed visuals and a donation tracker to create excitement and encourage contributions.

School Auctions are More Than Fundraising Events

School Fundraising Events are opportunities to strengthen the school community and create lasting traditions. By implementing these expert tips and tools from Greater Giving, schools can unleash the full potential of their auctions, ensuring both financial success and a memorable experience for donors, parents, and students alike. So, start planning early, tell your school’s story, and create auction packages that excite donors – the power of school auction fundraising awaits your school’s embrace!

For more tips on School Fundraising download our Best Practices for School Auctions Guide.

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