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Step-by-step: auction of promises

From an hour's ironing service, to a taxi home from your next event, an 'auction of promises' is a fantastic way of raising money for your cause and helps get everyone, including local businesses, involved.

1. Select a date that doesn't clash with anything else going on in the area. The auction will take a good 2-3 hours, so you might want to consider having a break midway with refreshments on offer.

2. Elect an 'auctioneer' - someone with a big personality who can make amusing quips, but who can also handle the rabble - and a gavel!. They will need to call out the Lot, with a brief description and what it's worth, then start the bidding. You will need several volunteers to collect the successful bidders' details and money, and someone to run the bar and serve food.

3. Publicise the event using Charity Print Shop - order 10 A3 posters for just 9.95! Professional-looking and editable, these posters are sure to draw a crowd.

4. Secure auction bids - create a form entitled 'I am donating...' with room for a description of the 'promise', including how much it's worth and any conditions. Make sure the name, address and telephone number are included. Send this out to supporters and 'share' on social media. Contact local businesses, local celebrities or your MP. Make sure you have all your 'promises' two weeks before the event.

5. One week before the event, give each promise a number and publish the list - either online, by email or sent out via book bags. Keep some of the better or more unusual offers as 'lucky dip' secret Lots. Allow parents to bid beforehand if they're unable to attend on the night. Let the auctioneer have a good look at the list, so that anything particularly funny can be used to keep spirits high or preparations can be made to deal with something potentially awkward!

Tips and advice

Variety: Consider offering a combination of promises, products and services - this will guarantee that there's something for everyone. And make sure you promote the event as widely as possible - the more people who come along, the more money you'll raise.
Licensing: You will need to have public liability insurance and undertake a simple risk assessment. If you plan to run a bar, make sure you obtain the correct licence.
Payment: Specify in the rules that money must be paid on the night or within seven days, - it's worth warning people beforehand so that they come prepared.
Donation ideas: Ideas for donations can span quite a range.

  • Meal for two at a local restaurant
  • Babysitting services
  • Ironing or housework
  • Bike servicing
  • Dog walking
  • Car wash
  • Hobby lessons (jewellery-making, model-building)
  • Pampering vouchers
  • Sport coaching (Golf, Football, Tennis)


The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by an organisation, based on the guidance provided. 

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