35th Anniversary Gala Auction Information

All auction items due to Mary Caraway or Judith Feldman by no later than Friday, March 31, 2017

On behalf of the Gala Planning Committee, thank you for your partnership. We are excited to work with you to meet our fundraising goals in support of this amazingly unique school! Our goal for this year’s Gala is to raise $250,000 net of expenses. As with most schools, tuition alone does not cover operating costs, including staff compensation, our world-class arts and academic co-curricular program, professional development, and financial aid. Fundraising is necessary to bridge the gap between the school’s tuition income and its expenses. 

Securing auction items

We are asking current families, alumni families, and non-family “friends of the school” to either solicit or offer personal donations for the auction (with at least one item valuing $150 or more). The more unique the item or experience, the better it will sell. Please see sample solicitation letters here.

When should we start to solicit items?

Start now! Auction items are due to Mary Caraway or Judith Feldman (Main Office at The Academy) by Friday, March 31, 2017. Members of the Gala Committee are working hard to secure auction items, but it takes a village to build a great mix of auction items and packages and we need your help! Alumni parent, Joyce Myers, has kindly volunteered to serve as Auction Director, and she will be taking the lead on tracking donations, answering questions, and ensuring auction donations are secured and arrive at The Academy’s office by no later than March 31st. 

What types of auction items are we looking for?

Ask for items you yourself would be interested in purchasing at an auction. Leverage personal connections. Think of items to donate that would be difficult for someone to go out and purchase on their own. Remember -- the more unique the experience, the more special the access, the better the item(s) sell. Examples include:

  • Good seats for Cubs, Blackhawks, Bulls games (Cubs tickets will be coveted)
  • Backstage passes or hard-to-get tickets to sold out rock concerts
  • Unique experiences e.g.
    • VIP tickets/backstage passes to arts and cultural institutions in Chicago or New York
    • Chef for a day at 5-star restaurant
    • PA for a day on the set of Chicago Fire
    • VIP tour of The Lyric
  • Travel packages e.g.
    • Escape to Michigan including:
      • Weekend stay for four at Michigan Beach Home
      • Dinner for 4 at New Buffalo, MI restaurant
      • Private wine tasting and vineyard tour at New Holland Vineyard
    • Jazz and Cajun Lovers Big Easy including:
      • Weekend stay for two at New Orleans hotel
      • Dinner for 4 at coveted restaurant in New Orleans
      • Tickets to French Quarter music club

While we certainly appreciate any donation received, note that gift certificates (e.g., to restaurants and salons) generally sell for less than their value, while unique bundles and sporting tickets sell for more. We challenge you to be creative, team up with friends to build cool packages, and new ideas are always encouraged.

How much should the auction item be worth?

Values can vary. We encourage auction item values to range from $50 to $10,000. It is important that a diverse mix of items be available for a range of price points. But we encourage you to try for items valued at $150 and above.

What is the process to secure a donation?

1. Contact the Donor: Typically, soliciting donations in-person proves to be most effective. You can start by sending an email or letter (see sample letter) and follow up in person or by phone. But soliciting in person tends to work best. You should also include the 501(c)(3) letter confirming The Academy’s non-profit status. Additional forms will be available in the Main Office.

2. Follow up with the donor and collect the following materials: 

  • Item being donated
  • Required information to complete the auction donation form
  • Any hard-copy or electronic promotional materials that might be used to display/highlight the item at the auction (e.g., brochures, photos highlighting the item, a jpeg of the company logo)

3. Submit all materials to The Academy Main Office by no later than Friday, March 31, 2017.
Submit the donation form online and all other tangible materials to the office. Be sure to have all of the donation information available before filling out the online form. Many fields are required, and you cannot submit the form if information is missing. 

All auction items are due by Friday, March 31. Please be sure to have items secured by then, and actual physical items and related marketing materials turned into Mary Caraway or Judith Feldman by 3/31. If you have questions or require assistance, please contact Auction Chair (and Alumni Mom) Joyce Myers at: jkmyers0919@comcast.net or Director of Development Judith Feldman at: jfeldman@chicagoartsacademy.org.

Thank you for your important role in making our 35th Anniversary Gala a Success!