Storytelling: Donations Make the Auction

Published on 21 Jun 2016 by Auctria

Storytelling: Donations Make the Auction

A Michigan school run by a parent organization in Michigan has mastered the art of auction donations. Their auction has been running for 7 years so and continues to grow each year. They do so with strategic item procurement. Consider a few factors: audience and what they like to spend money on, discover local treasures and people, create unique experiences.


The audience here is very well defined. Families with children that attend the school is the most obvious. Consider expanding the audience though. For instance we ask not only parents but grandparents, past student families and local stakeholders to donate.

“You NEVER know who owns what, has connections where, and is willing to help.”


friends of the school own a boat and offer a boat & dine progressive dinner on the lake experience
talk to local fire and police stations; often they can offer unique experiences such as lunch with the chief, private tour
Go local with goods and services. Local or regional activities tend to be generous such as Pirate Ship Tourism boat ride, Car Museum admission, hot air balloon ride from a Re/Max office, art pieces, restaurant gift certificates
TIP: Package donations to make a more elaborate item. They took the fire station donation and with permission from the fire department added in a birthday party donation and now you really have a special event

Local Treasures & People

Local treasures and people are one request away. In our area there is a lot of Michigan (as in the state) spirit. Our families are proud and love to own a piece of Michigan. We routinely find treasures that are local and desirable ranging from sports team memorabilia to artisan pieces.

‘Luckily a former parent is a local weatherman.
He still lets us us auction off and a visit to the station with a behind the scenes tour.”


NFL Green Bay experience
autographed picture of Detroit Red Wings player
autographed picture of Detroit Tigers player
community farm
tickets to symphony, children's museum, car museum, adventure park
Art, jewelry, craft beers, make your own gin
Auto services, gym and yoga certificates
Specialty foods such as local beef, desserts, gardening

Unique Items and Experiences

The environment is ripe to create priceless items that are emotionally vested to the bidders. Whether it’s a group art project, an exclusive opportunity or the value of time there is no ceiling to bids. Priceless really means bids go up-and-up and up.

“When students get to spend time with a teacher or principal it makes them feel special.”


Time with with a teacher- geocaching, before school breakfast, jam session, pizza making, wildflower garden walk
Group art projects pit bidder against bidder for the same one-of-a-kind parcel
Reserved parking spot is always well sought after

auction items local.png

Organizing the Items Throughout the Entire Event

As auction items are received tracking and managing is the next step. Record all donor information for thank you notes and potential future donations. Loading the information once and then it is tracked seamless throughout the system makes the auction team’s job efficient. We can focus on the event sponsors, marketing, and raffle.

Reporting capabilities for overall and drill down are vital to being organized. Enter, change, amend, to track, everything- starting bid, purchase price, winner and all the communications in between.

Special thanks to co-chairs Sarah A. and Lindsey S. from for kindly sharing their fundraising story. If you have a best-practice to help enlighten the Auctria family please email us at