FUNDRAISING – Silent auctions

A guide to SILENT


ould your supporters enjoy a week in a holiday home in France? A new iPad? Dinner for two?

A silent auction is a great way for

participants to get prizes they really want, while the PTA makes money with very little outlay. A silent auction is exactly that

– an auction, but with no noisy auctioneer shouting out bids to a room full of raised hands. It’s an effective way to raise extra funds and is often held alongside other PTA events such as Christmas fairs and summer balls. Typically, items are donated by

parents, members of the community and local businesses, and all the money raised goes straight to the PTA coffers. People only bid on items they would genuinely like to have, rather than winning a ‘potluck’ raffle prize.

‘Our small school auction AUCTIONS

Secure a few big prizes, whip up some excitement and watch the bids roll in…

Running an auction Sourcing prizes is often the biggest

challenge. Start early by letting local companies know what you’re looking for and what kind of coverage they can expect in return. Give donors as much publicity as you can: offer them an advert in your programme; link to them on social media and have your compere announce their name during the event. There are no licensing

requirements for running a silent auction, however you will need to bear in mind the Sale of Goods Act when providing descriptions and stating the value of each item. Parents provide their names and contact details voluntarily, but these should be destroyed after the event. Explain that winning bids need

to be collected and paid for within a certain timeframe, and that it is up to the winner of each lot to arrange AUTUMN 2019 43

raised over £2,000’ ‘We began planning our silent auction in January by posting on local Facebook groups and asking parents for donations using Classlist. It was held as part of the summer fair so we advertised it on our event posters and promoted it on Facebook too. We had 23 lots in total, the star prize being two Wimbledon centre court tickets with access to the debentures lounge. We don’t usually use reserve prices but for that one we did. If prizes weren’t big enough to be auctioned individually, we grouped them together to make them more attractive to bidders. Where possible, we attempted to make the lots compatible – for example, dinner for two was combined with a babysitting voucher. The silent auction had its own tent at the fair. Each prize was listed on a piece of paper along with a description and the recommended retail price, if known. Attendees wrote their bids underneath during the afternoon. We called time half an hour before the end and our compere read out the winners, but not how much they paid. Most people were still at the fair and claimed their prizes straight away, paying cash. We also allowed BACS transfers, but prize envelopes weren’t handed over until payment had been made. We have such a generous parent

community, so it didn’t cost us anything to run the auction, which raised £2,092.’ Mikayla Ellmer, PTA co-chair, Kemsing Primary School, Kemsing, Kent (196 pupils)


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