How to Raise More Money in a School Auction by Selling Branded Merchandise

When you start to think about your school auction as a business, your auction will grow more quickly. And as your auction receives proper attention, you’ll be looking for ways to add additional revenue to nurture your growing baby.

One revenue stream popular at for-profit enterprises unique silent auction ideas is branded merchandise. Let’s consider how you might adopt this idea in your school auction.

Branded merchandise refers to items sold at a flat rate. The merchandise is typically themed to the gala itself. In fact, if you’ve ever bought a T-shirt at a concert or a popular restaurant, you’ve been a consumer of branded merchandise.

Oftentimes the logo of the auction gala is on the item, or – if you want to brand the item to your school – the logo or mascot of the school is imprinted onto the item.

Most branded merchandise is sold at the benefit auction itself or in the days immediately prior to and after it. If you are able, take orders for the merchandise on your website in the days and weeks leading up to the event.

(Tip: If you are using an auction software provider, they typically have a feature that enables you to easily accept flat orders online.)

If online orders aren’t an option, apply sales to guests’ bid numbers at the auction itself.

What should you sell? Here are a few items I’ve seen:

  • Stadium chairs
  • Tshirts
  • Umbrellas
  • Ball caps
  • Megaphones and mini-foam footballs
  • Beer mugs / beer steins and wine glasses
  • Sports-like pendants
  • Beach towels (great for beach-type themes)
  • Tote bags / reusable grocery bag
  • Sweatshirt blankets

A vendor who sells promotional materials (also called “tchotchkes”or giveaways) will be able to suggest items in your price point and expected volume.

What will your school raise? Revenues will vary based on your sales and price point, but a few hundred dollars to the low thousands isn’t uncommon.