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Blog: Top 9 Tips for Getting Auction Donations

Check out some tips for getting auction items for your school fundraising events and more from former teacher and LA Expert Mom, Sarah Barrett.

Top 9 Tips for Getting Auction Donations

A lot of schools have auctions as part of their fundraisers.  It is tough enough to get items for those auctions, but when you have to compete with other schools in your area, that makes it even tougher.  Here are a few tips when planning your next event:

1.  Give yourself plenty of time to get the big donations.  If your event is in April or May, get solicitation letters out in November.  Make sure you send physical letters. 

2.  Send personalized solicitation letters, or at least envelopes directed to a specific person.  I know a lot of people who work in the hotel and restaurant industries, and you’d be surprised (or maybe not) how many solicitation letters they get that are not addressed to anyone specifically and it seemed as though the person asking had never set foot in their establishment.

3.  If you can visit the business and spend some face to face time with the owner or manager, that can help seal the deal.  Business owners like to put a name and face with the donation.  If you can spend some money there too, they would be more amenable to donating.

4.  Follow up with business owners and managers.  Do not expect that once you send a solicitation letter that you are done and the donations will roll in.  It doesn’t work that way.  You can email them after you speak to them.  Help them help you!

5.  If you want hotels, you must start early!  Some hotels do a monthly drawing and choose based on when you get your letter in.  The earlier you start the better your chances.

6.  Don’t be afraid to ask.  Just like the lotto, you can’t win if you don’t play. You won’t get it, if you don’t ask!

7.  Find the free.  One of the best auction items we started doing was the birthday marquee.  It cost nothing and sold for $100/child each month.  That was $1,200 in revenue that cost nothing.

8.  Ask your school community too!  Parents can help if you ask them.  Who do they know, and what do they do?  You can find some incredible auction opportunities just by asking those questions.

9.  Stay positive and have fun!  The more fun you can have with this, the more you will attract happy people to help you!  Good luck!

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sarah Barrett is a longtime activist working at Carpenter Community Charter School and a Studio City resident. Find out more about her book at: www.amomsguidetoschoolfundraising.com

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ecokaren February 08, 2013 at 01:45 AM
Great list! One of the best donations we used to get were "experiences" from teachers, local officials, theaters, and even fire departments in town. Be creative and don't always think objects or 'things'. Being a principal for a day for silent auction was always a big hit in our school.
Sarah Barrett February 08, 2013 at 02:20 AM
You are so right, Ecokaren! I love to see the creativity that schools come up with! I spoke with parents all over the country and heard some really great fundraising ideas that I share in my book! May your fundraisers always be fruitful!
Cheyenne Chasen February 24, 2013 at 04:03 AM
This looks like an amazingly helpful book, and with the issues Carpenter is going thru you can see where the smarts come from. I look forward to reading more of your ideas in your bloggings.
Sarah Barrett February 24, 2013 at 07:44 AM
Thanks Cheyenne! If you'd like to see all the guest blog posts I've done so far, and to buy the book, you can visit my website at www.amomsguidetoschoolfundraising.com Thanks so much! You can also find our fan page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/amomsguidetoschoolfundraising
Squigglemom, Trish Tsoi-A-Sue February 25, 2013 at 05:29 PM
Cool article!

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