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Why not run this alongside a raffle at big events? Silent auctions open up a wealth of opportunities: parents only bid on the items they’re interested in, prizes can be more varied and it practically runs itself – no volunteers required!


ather than an auctioneer calling out prices for items and taking raised hands as bids, a silent auction is all

done on paper. It gives people the chance, during an event such as the Christmas fair, to view the items available and see what takes their fancy. People can revisit bidding sheets to outbid fellow parents before the auction closes! When asking for prizes, you can be

really creative – from a spa day to a boiler service, a term of karate lessons to theatre tickets. Unlike a raffle, where prizes are generally awarded on a pot luck basis, a silent auction allows people to bid only on items that suit their needs. Kate Thomas, PTA chair, North Cerney Church of England Primary School,

Gloucestershire (60 pupils) told us about their annual silent auction: ‘Every year, as part of our Christmas fair, we set up a silent auction. I write to many local companies in October, asking for donations. Another committee member, Charlotte, puts the silent auction together, including a booklet with descriptions. We try to get as many lots as we can! We are very lucky to have a supportive community, in the past we have had items such as: a week’s stay in a house in France, wing walking, photo sessions, garden clearance, as well as smaller things such as a ride in a combine harvester, an interior design service, babysitting, a haircut or a cleaner for a day!

The list of lots for the silent auction

goes out in book bags one week before the event. At the fair we have a big whiteboard listing each item on offer and a column for the bids, as well as forms for each lot, where you put your name, phone number and bid. Charlotte runs the table updating the whiteboard with the latest bid so everyone can see (although people could just add their bid to the list if volunteers are in short supply). It is all very relaxed and at the end of the fair we announce who has been successful for each lot. We give them a month to pay up! Our last silent auction made £1,500 and in previous years it has raised as much as £1,800!’

raising money for. Let companies know what sort of items you are seeking and what publicity they can expect in return. TIP: Invite parents to contibute auction lots too, as many will work locally. Not only are these parents likely to want to support their children’s school, they may also want to promote their services to other local families.

1 56 WINTER 2013

SIX TO 12 WEEKS BEFORE: Write to local companies asking for donations, emphasising what you are

school’s website and on your PTA Facebook page if you have one. List all the major auction items as this can really start to generate excitement. TIP: Provide parents with an explanation of what a silent auction is and how they can place a bid. Agree a process for accepting bids from anyone unable to attend your event.


FOUR WEEKS BEFORE: Promote your silent auction via letters home to parents, on the

the name of the item, a short description, how much each item is worth and space for people to write in their name, contact details and the maximum amount they are prepared to pay. Any bids received before the event should be inserted. Display the list on the playground after school for parents to see and to allow them to place bids prior to the event.


TWO WEEKS BEFORE: Create your silent auction bidding sheets and print them out. Include

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