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How does this sound for your holiday shopping experience?
You can make this happen by organizing a workplace silent auction, where employees auction off their talents – baking, gardening, sailing – and bring in items they no longer use, but others would like.
It’s fun! You get to learn about, and benefit from, your coworkers’ talents: homemade baked goods, hand-knitted hats, home-brewed beer.
Plus, people love to compete over a coveted item: Usually the most ridiculous white elephant, like a one-hour video of a spinning pizza, or an adult-sized chicken costume.
It’s great place to shop for holiday gifts. Instead of the same old gift cards, socks and scented candles, get unique gifts like tickets to your friends and family members' favorite sports team, or music show, or kid-friendly activity like OMSI or the zoo. Or how about a gift of an expert-led mushroom hunting trip, cooking class, sailing adventure on the Willamette, or weekend at a beach cabin?
It feels good to give back to your community. The proceeds from the auction go directly to a local non-profit: The organizing committee can choose one, or have staff submit suggestions and then vote to pick the final one (or two) non-profits.
Our office has organized a silent auction for the past ten years and has raised over $30,000 for local non-profits. It’s also something people look forward to every year – a little friendly competition, especially over a terribly excellent white elephant gift, can be great for workplace camaraderie.
Be specific about what people should donate. Ask staff to bring in used (but still usable) items, or “gifts of experience.” Emphasize that it’s a “clean out your closet” event, and staff should not buy new items for the event.
Clean out your closet items
Timeline and tasks
Early December is a good time to hold the auction, since many people are in “gift-buying” mode. Does your workplace have a winter party? If it’s early enough in December, that’s a great time.
Start soliciting re-used items and “gifts of experience” from staff a month or two before the auction (October or November if you’re aiming for a December event).
Choose the organization the auction is raising money for. Register the auction on the organization’s website or contact them to let them know about event.
Start putting items on display one week or more before the auction day.
Remind people the week or day before the auction to bring cash and checks. Designate a volunteer to follow up with any people that haven’t collected their items or paid for them (people may not realize they were the highest bid). Collect funds immediately after the auction ends.
Contact the organization to come retrieve funds, or drop off at their office.