Celebrity Book Auction

Who would have thought that a small school asking well-known personalities from around the world to donate a book that has influenced their lives would raise more than $5000?

Well, that’s exactly what happened to Kyilla Primary School in North Perth, Western Australia, thanks to their highly successful Great Celebrity Book Auction.

The government-run school of 200 students and their families wrote hundreds of letters to personalities in the areas of entertainment, media, politics, sport and business, asking them to donate a book that is important to them.

The Great Celebrity Book Auction, initiated by the school’s P&C committee, proved to be a raving success, with the 60 books that were donated raising in excess of $5000.

Why Books?

The aim of the fundraiser was to illustrate to students that reading is cool and to show them that books can take them on new adventures.

Mum and P&C member who initiated the fundraiser, Cherie Hardingham-Braid, said the outcome was beyond everyone’s expectations.

“We were expecting we might get 10 or 15 books back, so we were really blown away by the response and the calibre of people responding,” she said.

“I think the main reason this worked was because we involved teachers, the school community and parents – everybody was writing.”

Local and International Interest

Five international celebrities donated books including Dawn French, Jerry Hall, Florence Henderson, Amanda Seyfried and Ann M. Martin.

Home-grown heroes who jumped on the bandwagon included Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Governor-General Quentin Bryce, Andrew Denton, Matthew Pavlich, Michael Hussey, Matt Preston, Wil Anderson, Chris Bath, Tim Winton, Mike Munro and Jack Riewoldt – to name a few.

Shane Warne was the first Australian to donate two copies of his book, ‘Green Eggs and Ham’ – one for the young boy who wrote to him, as well as a personalised letter, and one for the auction.

Ms Hardingham-Braid said most participants sent notes or letters back to the kids.

“Some sent signed photos and most books had inscriptions inside them,” she said.

“The kids were so excited to have their letters returned and it was a really interesting project for the kids.”

Media Interest

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was pestered by ABC producers when they discovered he failed to respond to a child’s letter.

The school soon received a very special donation from Mr Abbott – a 50th anniversary edition of Lord of the Rings, which was later raffled for an astonishing $850.

The Auction

The majority of the books were auctioned online through a website developed and supported by the IMG Sports Technology Group, attracting buyers from all around Australia and even Canada!

A select number of books were also auctioned live at the Kyilla Primary School fete in March.

“We had purchases all though Australia and we would not have been able to do that if it was just at the school fete,” Ms Hardingham-Braid said.

“Having the online auction meant we could provide the direct link to more people through social media, but with the fete, we would have only attracted local people.”

How were the funds used?

The money raised has been used to support literacy at the school, whilst a writer-in-residence program has been funded to take place next term. Award-winning author Elaine Forrestal will spend a week encouraging writing and storytelling with students and teachers.

Top tips for successful fundraising

Firstly, it needs to involve a wide calibre of the social spectrum.

“I think it needs to engage the whole school community,” she said.

Secondly, you need to ensure you the fundraiser does not entail too much effort from the talent or draw card.

“We weren’t asking anyone for a huge commitment like coming to perform or painting an artwork,” she said.

Lastly, it must be a project that is relevant and interesting to kids.

“You don’t want to do a project that kids can’t get excited about.”

As for Kyilla Primary School’s next fundraising assignment, the P&C are already brainstorming some fantastic new ideas, which I am sure will be just as successful as their Great Celebrity Book Auction.

Originally published as ‘Spotlight: Kyilla Primary School’s ‘Great Celebrity Book Auction” 9 October 2011 by Chanelle Rodger

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