Seminary Auction Tips

Ken Alford

Ken Alford

This information was originally published at and sent out as part of Ken Alford’s email list to Seminary teachers.

If you’d like to hold Seminary auctions, may I recommend that you…

1)  Have no more than 2 auctions per year.

I recommend holding the first either right before Christmas or at the end of January, and then holding the second at the end of the year. Or, to add variety to your Seminary year, you may wish to consider offering Seminary bucks (“Mormon Money”) only during the winter months (and having a single auction at the end of February or the beginning of March).

2)  Invite parents to provide auction items.

Two weeks before the auction I give parents an “Auction Invitation” which explains:

  • What a Seminary auction is (briefly).
  • The date of the next auction.
  • An invitation to donate items.
  • The date I would like items delivered to me (normally 3 days before the auction).
  • Brief guidelines for donations. (I request that no family spend more than $5.00. Items from the local “Dollar Stores” work very well.)
  • I also ask that they not tell their Seminary students what they have donated.
  • A series of places they can “check” to show what they would like to donate. (The categories I use are: baked goods, fun items, soda/candy, school supplies, services, and “other”.)Many parents remember to return their donation sheet, but I follow-up with a very low key phone call to each Seminary parent who did not return their sheet (so I know how many parents would like to donate items).

Asking for auction items this way has several advantages:

  • Participation is voluntary. (If parents would like to participate — wonderful, but if they don’t, that’s okay. From the student’s perspective, everything is donated anonymously — and I never tell.)
  • It gives parents a way to get involved with Seminary. (I’ve had several parents who go “all out” to see how far they can make their $5.00 go — with some very impressive bargain shopping results.)
  • The “services” category of donated items allows everyone to participate. (We’ve had parents donate parent-powered car washes, chauffeuring, tutoring on various academic subjects, typing, lawn mowing, etc.)
  • It ensures that the items available for auction will be very different every auction.
  • It’s kind to the teacher’s budget and saves teacher time.

But, please remember that auctions are Seminary “dessert” and not the main course.

This raises the related question of using “Mormon Money (See Brigham Bucks, MormonShare)” in Seminary, and I’ll discuss that topic in a later message to this list.

Best wishes,


Kenneth L. Alford

Department: Church History

Title: Associate Professor

Office: 316D JSB

Bio: Dr. Kenneth L. Alford is an Associate Professor of Church History and Doctrine. After serving almost 30 years on active duty in the United States Army, he retired as a Colonel in 2008. While on active military duty, Ken served in numerous assignments, including the Pentagon, eight years teaching computer science and information systems engineering at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and four years as a Professor of Behavioral Science and Department Chair at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. After serving in the England Bristol Mission, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Brigham Young University, a Master of Arts in International Relations from the University of Southern California, a Master of Computer Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. in computer science from George Mason University. He has published and presented on a wide variety of subjects during his career. His current research focuses on Latter-day Saint military service. Ken and his wife, Sherilee, have four children and thirteen grandchildren. 

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