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Auction of promises case study

From an hour's maths tuition, to a taxi service home from your next tipsy social event, an auction of promises is a fantastic way to raise money, and helps get everyone involved - including local businesses.

To ensure maximum variety and value, consider offering a combination of promises, products and services - this will guarantee that there's something for everyone. Lisa Pope, Chair, Lent Rise School Association, Burnham told us about her PTA's fantastic auction of promises evening, which raised over £10,000!


'In reality, we probably started planning a good six months, if not a year beforehand, to think about what promises and auction lots there would be, and to give companies time to respond. We held monthly meetings and allocated tasks to source auction lots, with more frequent meetings leading up to the day. We held our first auction five years ago in a bid to raise money for laptops for the children to use in school. A committee was set up to work solely on the auction.

Sourcing auction lots

The committee drew up lists of people, organisations and parents who could be asked to donate their services and/or products. These people were contacted either by phone or letter, with some face-to-face, and promises were secured. Letters were always sent to confirm their donation! We managed to secure some huge prizes, including a go on a flight simulator (which actually sold twice at £800+ each), a Brands Hatch day (£900+), spa day passes, high-end restaurant meals; all the way down to someone offering two hours-worth of ironing, creating party invites, a birthday cake, party bags, gardening services, and Christmas lights donated by a high street shop. We also held a silent auction during the evening so people could bid as and when they wanted for items such as artwork, cakes and wine.

On the night

On the day, the school hall was set up with tables of eight per group, nibbles were supplied by a local Indian restaurant, and we ran our own bar. Each person who registered received their own unique bidding paddle and we had goody bags filled with donations from local companies for each guest. We had a separate table for payments, which was set up with laptops and listings so the treasurers could record everything correctly. The auctioneers were two, well-known parents of the school who were not afraid to encourage bids shall we say!

Boosting profits

At the end of the evening we knew we were close to the £10,000 mark but hadn't quite reached it. So, we sold the table decorations and then passed round a 'empty your pockets/purses' pot in which people donated their change, many notes(!) or wrote cheques! Always best to do this at the end of the evening when wine has been flowing well. We reached our £10,000 target!'

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