Written by Mindy Swenson Kinnier from melinda-ann.com and re-posted here with permission.

Way back when (in June), when we were attempting to raise $35,000 for our adoption, we had ourselves a dinner and an auction at our house. I’ve been wanting to post about this event for a while now, because it was the fundraiser that brought in the most money for us. I thought I would share some of the details, in case anyone wants to do something similar in their own fundraising endeavors. We figured this auction would bring in about $2,000, but in my little dream world, I secretly hoped it would bring in closer to $5,000.


We hosted dinner in our backyard. We asked a couple different Chick-fil-A franchises to donate food, and they were so generous to provide enough to feed 100 people! For dessert, I made a couple different kinds of cupcakes. We had a suggested donation of $15 for the dinner. We just left a little basket on the table next to this sign and let people drop in money if they wanted to.

suggested donation


Our friend Wes is an amazing DJ, and was kind enough to offer his services for the party.

Inside our living room was the auction. We moved all of our furniture onto our deck in the backyard for extra seating, so we had a cleared out space inside. We put together some items ourselves, but we also had lots of donations. We posted about it on social media and asked for donations in our support letter (here is a later version of that letter, if you’re interested). Lots of people donated items and services. I’m including a list of all the items we had at the end of this post. I’m so bummed that I didn’t get pictures of it all set up before people got there, but, as per usual, I was running around up until the last minute trying to get everything ready.


And here it is during the bidding…



Everyone getting their last-minute bids in before the auction ended.

I designed this bid sheet to put with each item. I just wrote in the item name, the value, the starting bid, and what the bids had to increase by.  The auction was open from 7-9pm. It was actually so much fun to see people strategizing and outbidding each other. People got really into it.

auction bid sheet
I also ended up setting up all the stuff I sell at boutiques in our dining room. It was not a part of the original plan, but it made sense. I just put a little box on the table in case people wanted to buy anything. I ended up selling A LOT, so it was a good addition.

adoption boutique

We had such an incredible turnout. There were so many more people than we expected there, some I had never even met. People ate, socialized, stayed late, and gave generously.

adoption party

At the end of the night, we announced the winners.
Then, we had all this money to count.

adoption cash raised
The Grand Total: $7,000

Far exceeding our expectation and my wildest dreams. Bottom line: God is good and we have incredibly generous people in our lives. It was an AMAZING night!

Here are a few tips, in case you decide to do one of these for yourself:

  • Ask for donations for the auction in advance.
  • Ask for food donations. It is so much easier to not have to worry about making food. If you can’t get it donated, try to do it potluck style so you aren’t spending lots of time/money preparing food.
  • Invite anyone and everyone you know. We sent out a letter and invited all our friends. We also posted it on facebook and shared about it with our church. We even let our friends invite people.
  • Delegate. Figure out the different things that need to be done throughout the night, and assign different people jobs. Have someone oversee the silent auction. People can direct questions their way, since you will most likely be pulled in a million directions. You can also have someone keep track of the food table to refill anything, someone to do trash duty, someone taking pictures, etc. It would also be helpful to have someone that manages the items and money that get exchanged at the end of the auction. We did not have someone do this, and things got a little confusing at the end….it obviously still worked out.
  • If you have other fundraisers that you are doing, like selling things, consider putting that out too.

That’s all I can think of for now. If you have any questions or if you want any of the signs or bidding sheets for your own auction, feel free to email me.

And now for the list of items that were auctioned off (to give you some ideas of your own):

  1. Rip Curl Clothes and Hats (we have a friend who worked for them and donated TONS of stuff)
  2. Trader Joe’s Basket with lots of goodies and a gift card
  3. Set of Burlap Pillows made by a friend (you can kind of see them in one of the pictures above)
  4. 2 night stay at the JW Marriott Las Vegas Resort and Spa
  5. Owl Purse with Lots of Goodies for Little Girl
  6. Basket of Children’s Chapter Books
  7. 5 Different Adorable Lamps made by a friend
  8. Stella and Dot Bracelet
  9. Pilates Basket with Pilates Gear and a Gift Certificate for a Class
  10. Voluspa Basket
  11. One Hour Photo Shoot with X & V Photography (the same photographer who took AMAZING pictures of Silas that I can’t wait to share!)
  12. Picnic/Beach Basket
  13. Adirondack Chairs made by Nick
  14. Basket of Children’s Picture Books
  15. Caramel Cup Cake
  16. Quilt made by my Grandma
  17. Twirpy Woods Block Frame and Birdhouse
  18. Baby Basket with a Quilt made by Nick’s mom and other fun Baby stuff
  19. Knit Scarves from iKnit2
  20. Custom Succulent Monogram Wreath
  21. One Month CrossFit Membership to CrossFit Tustin

Follow the Kinnier’s adoption journey at melinda-ann.com

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