Our youth group puts on an annual dessert auction to help send middle school and high school teens to summer camp. My husband and I are the high school youth leaders at our church. Two of our good friends work with the middle school group. Between the two groups we have about 20 students ages 11-19.
[How it works]
We try to make the auction as simple as possible. We try each year to limit the number of desserts by having a sign up sheet, but it never works. Teens earn 100% profit from the desserts that they make themselves to sell at the auction. The profit from other desserts that are donated from other church members goes into a general fund and is divided evenly between the teens that work the auction.
This year I did a "rainbow" theme for the decor. I purchased 2 black tablecloths for $1 ea, 1 rainbow tablecloth for $3, and 2 brightly colored tablecloths, $1 ea. After our evening church service we set up 3 long tables in the middle of our fellowship hall (black, rainbow, black) then put on 5 cylindrical vases running the length of the tables. Each vase was filled "Easter" basket straw (one of each color: pink, orange, yellow, green, blue). I made signs for the different types of desserts and placed them into the colored vases (like a cupcake topper). Categories were brownies, cupcakes, pies, specialty desserts, and cookies. Looking back I should have added a "cake" category.
[Going, going, gone!]
The auction usually lasts about 1.5-2 hours. People are pretty spent by the end of the event, so we try to move quickly. I choose a dessert off of the display table then students show off each dessert around the fellowship hall for about 2 minutes before we bring it to the front to auction off. We start each dessert at $5. We make it kinda cutesy and give everyone a homemade auction paddle (numbered small paper plates taped on to thick Popsicle sticks). My husband is the MC of the event, he points to people as they bid on each dessert. When someone wins an item we have one adult at the head table writing down who bought the dessert and for how much. The dessert is then delivered to the winner by the student who walked it around the hall. Since we are hoping people will buy multiple items we wait until the end of the event to ask people to settle their "tab." Desserts usually sell for $5-$20. There are a few "special" desserts for a super-awesome-baker that go for a lot more. Super-awesome-baker's Cheesecake $70, Cookies $50, and her cake $45. We made about $1200 this year!
I was going to add in the cupcakes I made, but it's a lot. So check for another post on the cute cupcakes I made.
If you host a dessert auction fundraiser I would love to know what you did to make it successful!