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  • Writer's pictureTricia Roseveare

10 Tips For Hosting A Successful School Auction!

What is the most popular way to raise money for your school? If you said an auction, Congratulations!

If you looking for ways to raise money for your school this Spring, an auction fundraiser may be the perfect solution!

In this blog post, we will provide 10 tips for hosting a fantastic auction fundraiser. So, whether you are just getting exploring the idea or if you are looking for ways to improve your current fundraising efforts, this blog post is for you!

Tip #1: Determine Whether to Host an In-Person, Hybrid or Virtual Event

When it comes to hosting an auction fundraiser, there are three main options: in-person, hybrid, or virtual. In-person auctions are typically held at a physical location, such as a school gymnasium or banquet hall. Hybrid auctions combine both online and offline bidding, while virtual auctions are held entirely online.

Below we will provide some pros and cons of each option to help you determine which is the best fit for your school.

In-Person Auctions:

Pros: In-person auctions provide face-to-face interaction between potential bidders and auction items. This can lead to more excitement around bidding and ultimately, higher profits for your school. Additionally, in-person auctions allow for a personal touch, which can be beneficial when it comes to marketing your event.

Cons: In-person auctions require significant planning and preparation in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Additionally, they are typically much more expensive to host than online or virtual auctions.

Hybrid Auctions:

Pros: Hybrid auctions use digital technology to offer in-person or mobile and online bidding. This allows for a more personal touch with potential bidders, while also providing the convenience of virtual bidding. Additionally, hybrid auctions are typically less expensive than in-person events, which can help to improve your overall profit margin.

Cons: Hybrid auctions still require significant planning and preparation in order to ensure that everything goes smoothly at the in-person segment of your event. Additionally, hybrid auctions are typically more expensive to host than virtual auctions.

Virtual Auctions:

Pros: Virtual auctions allow you to raise money for your school without taking on the risk of hosting an in-person event or the costs associated with hiring a venue and staff members. Another benefit is that mobile and online bidding can reach thousands of potential bidders, which can lead to increased profits for your school.

Cons: Virtual auctions do not provide the personal touch that in-person and hybrid events typically offer. Therefore, it is important to make sure that your online auction platform is not only user-friendly, and easy to navigate, but also fun for your participants.

Tip #2: Choose The Best Time of Year to Host Your Event

When it comes to hosting a school auction fundraiser, the timing of your event is important. Here are a few things to consider:

The best time to host a school auction fundraiser is typically in the early Spring and early Fall. Hosting your event in late Spring means you are likely competing with a lot of other school events such as programs, field trips, and end-of-year fatigue. Waiting until late Fall means your audience will be switching gears to focus on the holidays and not as interested in your fundraising event.

Tip #3: Choose the Right Date and Time for Your School Auction Fundraiser

When choosing the date for your auction, it is important to consider the school calendar and other events that may be competing for your audience's attention. It is also important to choose a time of day when people will be able to attend your event - either in-person or virtually. The most popular times to host an auction are in the evening or on a weekend when most people are free.

Tip #4. Select a Digital Auction Platform That is Right For You

ZGIVE is a digital auction platform that is perfect for schools. We have many schools in our client community that have raised significant amounts of money using our digital platform.

It goes without saying that as a school leader you are very busy. While many digital auction platforms can be difficult to understand and expensive, ZGIVE makes it very easy and affordable to host a school auction fundraiser. We are honestly one of the easiest auction platforms available today, according to our clients :). And we provide all of the training, tools, and resources you need to make your auction event a success.

We also offer risk-free consignment items (samples shown below), so if you want to add some higher ticket offerings to spice things up or just add more items to fill your auction item offering, risk-free is the way to go.

Tip #5: Solicit Donations From Your Constituent Audience

As a school, you already have a vested audience that is actively supportive because they are personally connected to your organization. This would include parents of students, volunteers, teachers, PTA, school board members, and alumni.

What this means for you is that you have a fantastic opportunity to solicit donated items from these different groups! Don't be shy, people like to give and you never know what fabulous items might be donated for your event.

Some of the best selling school auction items are:

  • Cooking Lessons with the Home Economic Teacher

  • Principal for a Day

  • Woodshop Class

  • Putting your name on a school bench

  • Personal training with Physical Education coach

  • Jewelry

  • Gift certificates to local restaurants and shops

  • Travel

  • Jewelry

  • Electronics

  • Tickets to Sporting Events or Shows

  • Home Goods and Services

Tip #6: Decide How The Money Raised Will Benefit Your School

When hosting a school auction fundraiser, it is important to have a plan for how the money raised will benefit your school. This could include funding new programs or initiatives, upgrading facilities, purchasing new technology, or raising money for the music, drama, or athletic department. The best way is to host a general auction and then do individual asks for specific needs during the event using Fund-A-Need.

The idea is to map this out ahead of time so you can communicate this in your marketing materials. People like to know where their money is going, so letting them know ahead of time will not only help you field any questions that come up but also get people motivated to support your event.

Tip #7: Promote, Promote, Promote Your Auction Fundraiser!

Once you have chosen the date, time, type of auction, and auction items for your school auction fundraiser, it is important to start promoting your event. This is seriously one of the critical elements because you may have a fantastic roster of donated items and a great digital platform, but if very few people show up, the reality is that you will not raise money.

You can promote your auction fundraiser in a variety of ways as outlined below -and we recommend doing them all. Where possible, include your digital registration tools - QR code/scan-to-register, text-to-register, and link-to-register for your event.

  • Email parents, PTA, school board, and alumni

  • Post on social media platforms (see example image below).

  • Create an invite handout for students to take home

  • Place signage or posters at your school and affiliated church (if available)

  • Feature invite on your website

  • Ask students, teachers, and staff to share the invite with friends and family

Tip #8. Get Creative with Your Event Promotion by Engaging Students and Staff

  • Have students sell tickets to the event. You might even charge just a few dollars per ticket, but there is something about buying a ticket that tends to get people more invested and therefore more likely to show up at the event. Using a digital platform like TicketSpice, you easily sell tickets online, and the best part is they only charge 99 cents per ticket which makes selling tickets easy and affordable.

  • Have classrooms or departments compete to see who can sell the most tickets, and then reward the winners with a day off school, a special outing, a party, etc.

  • Invite students to make social graphics to promote the event. Using an easy, free, design platform like Canva, your students will likely produce some very creative designs. Maybe you have a contest where you select from the best 5 social graphic designs and the winners get a gift certificate to ice cream or another inexpensive treat.

Remember to provide them with your school's branding elements such as your logo, school colors, font style, and some general guidance on what you are looking to see in the design.

  • Ask benefiting classroom teachers or department heads to do a quick video that you can feature on your social platforms. This could be as simple as using a mobile phone to video your staff sharing what they need and why - and how they feel this auction will benefit the school and the students.

Video storytelling is one of the best tools to reach your audience. In fact, According to the Online Publishers Association, 80% of Internet users can recall a video ad they had seen in the last 30 days, and 46% of those people took some action after viewing the ad.

Tip #9: Raise Money Before, During, and After the Auction Fundraiser

Aside from raising money by selling auction items at your event, there are other ways to help ensure your event will be a financial success. Below are a few ideas:

Before The Event:

  • Sell tickets to your event

  • Invite your audience to view the items on your digital auction platform prior to the start of the event to get them engaged and excited!

During The Event:

  • Include Fund-A-Need during your event

  • Send a text message from your auction platform to registered participants letting them know they can, at any time during the auction, donate by clicking the donate button on their auction screen

  • Consider using a professional auctioneer who will work to drive up the bidding for and help maximize your earnings (you can feature an auctioneer in-person or streaming)

After The Event:

  • Send a follow-up email to your constituents thanking them for their support and include the link to donate. Remember that 80% of participants will not win an item, so it is important to give them the opportunity to do what they came to do - support your school with their contribution.

Tip #10: Determine Where To Store Auction Items

When choosing a place to store your auction items, keep in mind that they should be secure and easily accessible. For example, you may want to consider renting storage space at an offsite location if you do not have an appropriate place to store them at your school location. This may seem obvious, but when the donations start arriving, being organized about this ahead of time will eliminate confusion and reduce the risk of an item getting lost or forgotten in someone's office.

ZGIVE Would Love to Help You Raise Money For Your School!

ZGIVE ( is a powerful, user-friendly platform (shown on image below) that has all the features you need to host an amazing auction fundraiser. We are passionate about helping nonprofits simplify auctions and have helped hundreds of schools with our digital auction platform.

ZGIVE is a top-5 digital auction platform offering the following key features:

  • Easy-to-Use Auction Platform

  • Subscription-Free Option

  • Fun & Engaging Participant Experience

  • Unlimited Auction Events for Multiple Events

  • Powerful Client Control Dashboard

  • Virtual/Hybrid/In-Person Auctions​

  • ​​Fund-A-Need

  • Text, Click, or QR Code Scan to Register

  • Integrated SMS Messaging​

  • ​Mobile & Online Bidding

  • ​Unlimited Participants & Items

  • ​Best Selling Risk-Free Items

  • ​During-Auction Support

  • More!!

Thank you for reading! We hope these tips were helpful and that you feel inspired to host an auction event!

We invite you to join the ZGIVE community today so you can start planning your next auction and raise more money for your school!

To learn more about ZGIVE, visit


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