Is a Silent Auction The Right Choice For Your Music Program?
Thinking about running a silent auction for your orchestra (or band) program? Or perhaps you are a school administrator or running a spots program that needs fundraising. Growing a program always presents a different challenge- thinking about a variety of ways to fundraise in order to make that program available to all kids in it.
Silent auctions can be very profitable for a school program but they don’t work well in every situation. If you wonder if your school program will benefit from it or if you are just starting out, see these tips for starting a silent auction!
- Silent auctions work well if you have a big program! A few parents or a handful of concert goers will not necessarily make a successful orchestra silent auction.
- Silent auctions are a lot of work. Make sure you have you have support (most likely from parents). Don’t think of organizing a silent auction for your program all by yourself in addition to running a concert in the same day! You need to have a group of 2-4 adults who take initiative and run the preparations for the silent auction.
- Same as the tip before, you need to have ONE parent who is willing to put in the work and you know that they will be behind you and get the job done. There will be parents who tell you they are interested, and back out when they realize what they need to do. You need to be careful not to fall in this trap. At my school we have been having very successful auctions exactly because of one parent who organizes it. If this was not the case, I would probably think twice about going the distance and organizing a silent auction.
- You must start early! A successful orchestra silent auction done in December has to be planned September at the very latest. More time will give you more opportunities to gather items for the auction and it will spare you from last minute frustrations. In fact if you are reading this post now, you may want to use the ideas for next December’s holiday concert! Ultimately more time in preparation will also give you the most profit.
- One of the best indicators for a successful silent auction is the parents you work with! This is probably the biggest and most important tip in this post! Get to know the parents in your community well before suggesting a silent auction event. Make sure they are “doers” and they understand what they need to do. Get a feel if parents have different skills they can contribute to the auction.
Tips When Organizing a Silent Auction
- Location of the auction items is most important! After preparing everything, it is good to think about a place where parents can “go through”. Don’t put the auction table in the corner of the gym where nobody would go and look at them.
- Best donated items for a school silent auction will come from the parents and their talents. Again, get to know your community well before starting a silent auction. You will most likely have parents who have specific crafts or skills that they can easily donate for their child music program.
- Make sure you offer to advertise their business at the auction or put a note in a parent letter or the concert program. Be sure to send thank you cards to involved parties.
- If you are not able to get donations through the program itself, all major chains offer gift cards that they donate to non profits in their area. In most cases these gift cards are in the amount of $30.00-35.00 Getting all parents involve to go to the local chains about two months prior to the auction and obtaining this gift card could be a good idea.
- Before getting parents to help soliciting donations, you would need to prepare a silent auction donation letter. In most cases the letter has to be on the school’s letterhead. It needs to have the purpose you are fundraising for as well as the tax id # for your program (something you would figure out with the bookkeeper at your school).
- It is good to have a purpose for the silent auction. If the parents know the specific items or goal you are fundraising for, they will be more likely to participate in the auction. For more tips on running a silent auction with a purpose see this post