Although the name Chinese auction is an antiquated term, this is a great way to have a school fundraiser. A Chinese auction is essentially a silent auction with a twist. In this post, we will be reviewing how a Chinese auction works, the Chinese auction rules, and also provide some ideas for Chinese auction tickets.
A Chinese auction is a great fundraiser to have as a supplement to another event. For example, maybe you are having a spaghetti dinner fundraiser or really any type of fundraising event where a large group will be gathered. These are great opportunities to raise even more money by hosting a Chinese auction to go along with the fundraising event.
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Why Is It Called Chinese Auction?
The reason for the term Chinese auction is actually very interesting because there are two distinct possibilities. The first reason it is believed this term came to be known was that in the 19th century the term Chinese had a racist origin attached to it by referring to being cheap.
However, there is also history suggesting this term originated to mean something that is mysterious and intriguing.
Regardless, given the potentially negative history of its name, we would recommend referring to your auction using an alternative term such as a chance auction, basket auction, or tricky tray.
How It Works
How do you do a Chinese auction? As mentioned above, a Chinese auction is a type of silent auction. For a silent auction, bidders walk around a room, where there are items out on tables.
If there is something they want to bid on, they write their bid down on a sheet of paper. Everyone can see the latest bid. When the auction ends, whoever has the highest bid on each item, wins it.
Now, with a Chinese auction, there are items to bid on out on tables. But, in this case, bidders purchase tickets. If a bidder sees an item they want, they can put as many tickets as they want into the container next to the item.
At the end of the auction, a raffle is conducted and winners are picked for each item.
When planning out your auction, you’ll need to consider the type of containers you choose for the bidders’ tickets. You’ll need to choose either solid containers or transparent ones.
Transparent containers allow bidders to see how many others are putting in tickets for any given item. With solid containers, there is more mystery surrounding the odds of the bidder’s chances.
If our school were hosting a Chinese auction, we’d choose solid containers like shoe boxes or cardboard boxes to maintain the mystery (and because they are cheap/free)!
Chinese Auction Rules
Now that you have an idea on how to organize a Chinese auction, let’s review Chinese auction rules in more detail.
- Bidders purchase raffle tickets – you can have single ticket prices or you can offer tickets in sets. The number of tickets you offer in a set and the price of the ticket will depend on the amount and type of items that will be bid on.
- Set a time period for bidding – allow the auction attendees a period of time to walk around and decide which items they will bid on. Make sure it is clear what time the auction is ending.
- Pick raffle winners – when bidding time is up, collect the ticket containers and prizes. Pick the raffle winner and announce it.
- The winner collects his or her prize
Chinese Auction Tickets
What about the Chinese auction tickets? You will need some kind of raffle tickets for bidders to use for bidding on the prizes they want to win. This could just be traditional roles of raffle tickets or you could create your own tickets.
How many raffle tickets you need will depend on how many people will be attending and also your ticket pricing scheme.
For example, if it’s $10 for 10 tickets and there are 100 people attending. You can assume that each attendee will buy at least one set of tickets. This means you would need a minimum of 1,000 raffle tickets.
However, this is an inexpensive item and I would recommend doubling that amount to 2,000 tickets. This way you do not need to stress about running out of raffle tickets!
You can even choose a color that fits with the theme of your event or with your school’s colors!
As far as setting your ticket prices, this will depend on the types of prizes available. Typically, the price for raffle tickets are relatively cheap. You also want to make sure you make more than the amount spent on expenses.
For ticket pricing, you could consider offering an incentive to purchase more tickets by offering a deal. For example, $1 for 1 ticket or $5 for 6 tickets.
More Fundraising Ideas and Event Resources
- Check out which school fundraiser is our biggest money maker every year!
- Trying to engage with more classroom parents? Try hosting a Donuts with Dads or Muffins with Moms event!
- For another great school event, consider running a Career Day for students
- Searching for unique options and exciting fundraising activities? Try these:
Getting Items To Bid On
Another key to a successful Chinese auction would be finding really great auction items that people will want to bid on. And then on top of that, hopefully getting at least some, if not all of the items donated from local businesses.
Each year, our school gets a wide variety of auction items donated from local companies, alumni, and church members who want to support the school.
Some ideas for auction items include gift cards to restaurants and shops, purses, jewelry, toys, travel gear. Local businesses are usually willing to donate items or gift cards in exchange for the marketing opportunity involved.
At our last school auction fundraiser, locals donated a variety of items ranging from gift baskets to experiences which we organized by printing and placing in photo frames.
You could also consider having a big grand prize, like designer clothing, accessories like these Fendi sunglasses, or even a trip somewhere or an overnight getaway.
Chinese Auction Ideas
Besides the traditional Chinese auction discussed above, there are variations to run this type of fundraiser.
In one instance, instead of auction attendees bidding on individual items, the raffle tickets are put in one central jar. A winning ticket is then drawn for each prize available. Each time a winner is chosen, he or she selects from the remaining prizes.
Or, you can have a live auction with people bidding their tickets as each prize is announced. This allows attendees the opportunity to buy more tickets as the auction goes on, possibly leading to more raffle ticket sales.
Can I Have A Chinese Auction Online?
During these times of trying to fundraise during this era of social distancing, coming up with school fundraising ideas is difficult. So, you could consider having a Chinese auction online.
The key would be finding a computer savvy volunteer to setup an online auction. Raffle tickets would also be purchased online. You would then need post photos of the different auction items, too.
Winners would be selected and notified by phone or email if they won. You could set aside pickup times for people to collect their winning items.
Final Thoughts on Hosting a Chinese Auction
That wraps up this post on how to organize a Chinese auction. At the end of the day, if you can successfully get enough items to raffle, this a fun and easy fundraiser for events with a large group of people attending. And, there is always the possibility of hosting an online Chinese auction too.
More School Fundraising Ideas
- Learn the Best Ways to Run Online School Fundraisers
- How to Run a Penny Wars Fundraiser at Your School
- Run a Profitable Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser this Year
- Raise Money for the School with a Hilarious Flamingo Fundraiser!
- No Room Parent Program at Your School? No Problem! Learn How to Start One
- New to Room Parenting? Get access to the Room Mom Resource Library filled with tons of free templates & printables to help you throughout the year!