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Catholic School Galas: Tips for Having a Kicktail Class Auction Project

Y’all know how much I love to party. Marry that love with creative projects and I am ALL IN.

Most privately funded schools must do some sort of fundraising to meet the gap between what parents pay and what it actually costs to operate the school. I figure if you’re raising money, you might as well be having fun.

Am I right?

I’m certainly not the expert on all things crafty, but here’s a few things to consider when planning, and crafting, that awesome project. And, I know you have some great projects to share – public schools do these, too! I’d love to hear your ideas and see your photos. Click on over to my Facebook page and post them there!

Found the right project for your school's auction? These tips are sure to help you make it a success and makes lots of money for your school in the process!

1. Keep your audience in mind. Every school is different, as is the community that is a part of it. An auction item at one school won’t necessarily be a hit somewhere else. First, you have to ask yourself, is this something that our parents will love or is it something only I love? Typically, the smaller the kid, the craftier the project, the higher the demand. I don’t know what it is about kindergarten parents, but you put a hand-drawn anything or a handprint and it’s solid gold. That doesn’t tend to work as well for eighth graders.

2. Consider assessing a gala class project fee. Our previous school assessed a $5-$10 fee per family at the beginning of the year. This gave the room parents a good starting pool of money to create the project, without having to ask the parents for a donation. With 25 kids in the class, $125-$250 is a great kitty to get your craft on. Anything raised above and beyond that goes straight to the school. Our current school does not assess a fee, but rather asks parents to donate (sometimes) and the parent association allocates $100/classroom. Personally, I’m a fan of the former, not the latter.

3. Start early. If you just signed up to be the class gala project coordinator, don’t panic. This is why we call her St. Pinterest. And, copy other schools! That’s not illegal, that’s smart. You might even consider making a one-page gala project summary and compiling a notebook of all past projects for inspiration and to ensure you don’t duplicate something too soon.

4. Enlist help. You can do it all yourself, but you don’t have to, girl. I’ve found that working with one other person is my preference, but maybe you prefer a committee. Just keep in mind, the more cooks, the more opinions. But, when it comes time to get busy with the work part, I open the floodgates. Encourage other parents to pitch in and help. It’s less about the help and much more about the community. I can’t tell you how much fun we had painting all those prayer boxes!

5. Consider a recurring project idea. For the last several years, we’ve opted to do a sacramental prayer box for our second graders. For most, it’s a sacramental year with First Communion, so the box serves as a spot to hold all those saint cards, medals, rosaries and other religious items. I do love me a functional class project. Rather than put it in the live or silent auction, parents are invited to purchase a box, with a suggested donation amount. It’s been wildly successful – think $2,000+. It’s definitely work, but I really love doing these. Maybe your eighth graders take a class photo, or one of your classes has a saint project. Having 2-3 classes with a tried and true project (and one parents can look forward to) takes the heat off having to reinvent the wheel every year.

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6. Don’t always make it an auction item. Speaking of prayer boxes, these are a great example of allowing every parent to support gala, whether they can afford something in the live or silent auction, or not. Let’s face it, winning something in the auctions just may not be in your budget. But, an individual project? That’s doable. Every kid makes one, every family gets one and the school makes money in the process. Win-win-win.

7. Alternate project approaches. One local Catholic school does a fantastic job of rotating between recurring projects, individual projects, class baskets and live auction items. I love that they have such a well-oiled machine in place. It makes recruiting volunteers easier and it really does give parents multiple opportunities to support the school, based on their family’s income.

8. Make it Christ-centered. One of my very favorite projects, ever, is this one. That clay nativity, above our piano, was one that was crafted by my then-third grader. His teacher is an artisan with clay. The kids each took a piece of the nativity, shaped and colored it. Then, the teacher fired the clay and assembled this beauty on barn wood. We love it so much it hangs in our house year-round. There are so many ways to bring Christ into your class project!

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This project was the brainchild of my sweet friend, Veronica. The peg saint dolls were painted by moms and the castle is adorned by the first graders’ fingerprints. Love. It.

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9. Have fun! I’m probably one of those people who is addicted to class projects. But, through each of them, I’ve made a new friend, gotten to know another parent a little better and enjoyed the time in helping create something that benefits a family and our school.

Happy auctioning!

6 Comments

  1. mbmom7 on January 28, 2015 at 8:15 am

    Regarding #2, for many families who are already making sacrifices to send their kids to a Catholic school, being assessed a fee for an auction item is yet another burden. The constant little amounts required for this auction or that teacher gift add up, especially when you have more than one child in the school. By asking for free will donations, those who have more can offer more, and those with less can usually send in a token amount (or offer services in other ways).
    I have at least 5 kids in our school in a given academic year – 5 classrooms =5 action baskets + gifts + activities and field trips – that can easily add another $500 per year to my costs. And sometimes, it’s hard to be the family who has to say no we can’t help. So people should think about whether something is truly going to be possible for the entire class, and make sure every family can participate in a class project.
    I truly admire my school’s class parents – they do a great job with coming up with creative ideas for baskets for our annual auction. They ask for contributions, with a suggested amount, but never a required amount. It makes it easier for us with tighter budgets to participate.

    • Kathryn on January 28, 2015 at 10:45 am

      You bring up a great point. We have five kids in Catholic schools, too, so I totally understand where you’re coming from on the money issue. After having done it both ways, we just prefer the former. We’ve been able to spread out our payments to the school for various items.

      Your comment is proof that there’s no one right way! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Laura on January 28, 2015 at 12:49 pm

    Hi Kathryn, can you tell me where can I find some more info on the prayer boxes? I’m running our schools auction this year and I really like that idea. Thanks!

  3. Alicia on February 13, 2018 at 12:57 am

    great ideas and inspiration. I needed some energy for our auction this year!

    • Kathryn on February 14, 2018 at 9:21 pm

      I’m so happy to hear it!

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