Setting a theme for your auction not only makes the fundraiser more fun and exciting, but it also helps direct the types of items that you accept for donation and gives participants an idea of what kind of items will be featured. There are endless themes you can choose, but sometimes you can simply go with the season of the fundraiser. Autumn is an especially good theme because the range of relevant auction items and activities is not too broad, yet there are so many wonderful elements of the season that can spice up an auction.

Here are the best ways to bring autumn to your auction:


  1. Choose an Autumn Sub-Theme

Since fall can set a number of tones—from spooky monsters to delicious fall foods to the approach of winter—you can either encompass all of these sub-themes or choose one to guide your auction: a Halloween theme, a seasonal food theme, a harvest theme, etc. Whether you pick a narrow theme or combine a few different ones, this theme will get the community in the spirit of fall and encourage them to participate.


  1. Obtain Autumn-Related Items

A plethora of auction item ideas are out there, but which ones are most appropriate for your theme and make for effective fundraising? Here are just a few ideas:

  • Baskets with baking equipment and ingredients, small costume pieces, books with a cozy blanket, mugs and tea, thermoses, etc.
  • Full costumes of popular movie characters (one size fits all for an adult or child)
  • Gift cards to local restaurants
  • Gift certificate for a visit to a farm to pick apples or pumpkins or for a winery tour
  • Haunted house tickets
  • Food items such as pies, candy apples, or gourmet candy


  1. Plan Extra Activities

Extra activities besides the auction can bring in further monetary donations leading up to the online auction or during a live auction. These activities can cost very little but add a lot to the anticipation of the auction.

Get participants involved in contests. Provide pumpkins and carving tools, and sell tickets to enter the contest at the event; this is a fun activity for onlookers to watch as well as for students or adults to show off their skills. Get an art teacher or a local artist involved for a memorable time! You can also encourage participants to attend in their best costumes for a costume contest, or hold a pie-making or chili-making contest to provide food at the auction and bring an exciting spirit of competition.

You can also bring the community together for a film screening of a fall-themed movie like It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown or a mild scary movie like Frankenweenie or Ghostbusters. Bonfires are always enjoyable and are especially good for socializing—just make sure you follow the proper safety precautions. If you’re fundraising for a high school, you could also get volunteer students to create a haunted house in the school gym or hallways to thrill ticket-buyers.

Fall is commonly a favorite season for a reason. There is so much delicious food and many cozy items and exciting activities that fit the theme. Share with us how you’ve planned events during this season. What would you do differently or the same in the future?