Virtual Auction of Promises (“VAoP”) – FAQs


Usually the Auction of Promises takes place as part of our Christmas Fair day in early December, ….but this year, for obvious reasons, ….we’re going virtual!

We hope you’ll find everything here to help you understand and take part in the AoP – all are most welcome to get stuck in, whether you attend the Good Shepherd or not.  If you need any help there’s a link at the foot of this page where you can ask questions which we’ll be pleased to answer.

Lots Dashboard: Click the link if you’d like to browse the latest set of Promises and Requests (Lots) on offer.  WE ARE STILL OPEN – PLENTY STILL TO CHOSE FROM!


The Virtual Auction of Promises (or ‘VAoP’) provides a means whereby people are able to offer products or services (‘Promises’) which others can ‘bid’ for over an extended period (a week), without the pressure of an auction room.  A generic set of ideas appears under ‘Lot Suggestions’, below.

More recently we’ve also introduced ‘Requests’ whereby people who’d like to receive something can request it, with others coming in to satisfy the request, if they’re able and willing (e.g. an airport run, or trip to the Tip).

Generically, ‘Promises’ and ‘Requests’ are termed here as ‘Lots’.

Probably easiest to walk through an example.  Let’s say someone offers to do 3 Lots of 2 hours gardening;  this is submitted to the AoP Team and published on this website as three ‘Lots’.  Others can scan the list of Lots on the website both before the auction opens for bidding, and/or during the auction week itself.  Once the auction has opened for bids (see FAQ: ‘When does the Auction itself happen?”), anyone can submit Bid(s) for any or all of the three gardening offers.

When the auction ends, the highest bidders for each of the 3 gardening lots will ‘win’ 2 hours of gardening;  note that if someone wants more hours of gardening, they’re quite welcome to make more than one bid against more than one of the Lots.

Types of ‘Lot’

Most Lots are ‘Open’, and are competitively bid for, as in any open auction.  Some may have reserve prices, which bids must meet or exceed to be accepted.  For an Open Lot the winner is the one who’s submitted the highest Bid by close of the Auction.  The latest highest Bids (anonymous!) will be updated regularly on the website throughout the open auction week;  updates will be published once a day during the week, and as near realtime as possible on the final day.

Some Lots are offered as fixed-price and on a ‘first-com, first-served’ basis;  These are generally for set-number group activities (e.g. dinner parties or guided walks etc.), so may be less prevalent at the moment.  To ‘win’ a fixed-price Lot, you simply offer (bid) at the asking price and, provided you’re one of the first ‘n’-specified bidders, it’s yours.   Fixed-price Lots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis until they’re ‘fulfilled’ – note that, if you’re feeling generous, you’re most welcome to offer more than the set price, but it won’t usurp bids that have already been accepted.  For example, if you bid the £15 set price for, say, an ‘Afternoon Tea for 6’, and you’re one of the first 6 bidders, you’ll ‘win’;  a 7th bidder offering £20 will, sadly for them, not make the cut.

(Helpful tip: scan the Lots before the auction opens, then get in there quick!)

You may submit a Lot in either of two ways:

  1. If you’re a church member and you’re on ChurchSuite, you’ll receive an email inviting you to take part in the VAoP;  this provides an inline form which you can use to submit up to 4 ‘Lots’;  if you wish to submit more, simply follow point 2, as follows:
  2. If you’re not on ChurchSuite, or not sure how it works, (or you are, but need to submit more than 4 Lots), you’re most welcome to email with the Lot(s) you wish to offer, providing for each the Lot Name, Description, and any characteristics such as reserve price, numbers limit, time limit, and so on.

In both cases:

  • We also need your contact details – your own name and email address and, ideally, but optionally, your phone no. (pref. mobile).
  • If we need more information in order to accept the Lot, we’ll get in touch with you.

….and if you’d like to send in pictures of the item(s) you’re offering (or requesting), simply email them to the AOP Admin Team.

Please also see FAQ:  ‘Show me examples of typical Lots’

Lots can be submitted at any time up to the day before the final day – BUT we urge you very strongly to get them in before the open bidding period opens – this will ensure maximum exposure to bidders (and ease stress in the admin. dept!)

The following are examples of typical Promises and Requests:


Name:                     John Smith
Phone:                    07123 456 789
Lot name:                A weekend in Hastings}
Lot description:        A weekend at the Smith’s flat in Hastings, for four.  A weekend is offered  in a 2 bedroomed flat with a sea view.  All mod cons, but no TV.  Hastings boasts many historic buildings, an award-winning pier, lots of quality restaurants and other places of refreshment and it can be seen as a traditional English seaside town.  We are very flexible on dates, and would seek to fit in with the successful bidder for the date most convenient for them.
Conditions:            No children please.
Reserve price:      £100


Name:                    Janet Smith
Phone:                    07234 567 890
Lot name:               Request for Dump / Charity shop runs
Lot description:      I will pay £30 if a kind person would help me dispose of items at the Dump and/or Charity shops.  This would probably be in spring/early summer between April and June.
Offered price:         £30

In the run-up to the open auction week, accepted Lots will be published on the Lots Webpage (aka ‘Lots Dashboard’) as and when received (same day);  this will enable you and other prospective bidders to inspect what’s on offer and to prepare a strategy for when the auction opens for bidding.

During the live auction period the Lots Dashboard will change to display the latest highest Bid against each Lot.  This will be updated daily at end-of-day, and in near-realtime throughout the final Saturday (waking hours!)

Lots:  Lots may be submitted any time from now, and throughout the run-up to the Open auction period (see below).  Lots will also be accepted during the Open auction period, but you’re strongly advised to think ahead and avoid this if at all possible.  Submitted Lots will be added to the Lots Dashboard regularly in the lead-up, as received, (normally by end-of day) enabling potential bidders to check at their leisure as to what’s on offer.

Bids:  The Open AoP will take place throughout the full week commencing Saturday 6th December through to Saturday 12th December, closing at 5pm that day.  You can submit bids at any time during that period;  any received outside of that will not normally be included, with the exception of.

Requests:  ‘Bids’ – i.e. offers – from those happy to fulfil Requests, will be accepted and ‘Won’ at any time, even pre-auction.


Having scanned the list of what’s on offer on the Lots Dashboard, and decided what you’d like to go for, you may submit a Bid as follows:

Please email with the Lot(s) you wish to bid for (you can include several bids in a single email if you like), stating:

  • The Lot number
  • Lot Description (to avoid possible misunderstandings)
  • Your ‘£bid’ (can be omitted in the case of Requests)
  • Any extra info such as Number of people (e.g. for an offered meal, or similar group activity)
  • Your name
  • email address (esp. if different from the one you’re emailing from)
  • Optionally, but ideally, your phone no. (in case of problems – mobile preferred)

NB – you’re may make as many Bids for an item as you wish, especially if your previous Bid(s) have been supplanted!

…and of course you’re encouraged to bid for as many items as you’d like!

When the auction closes:

  • The list of Lots displayed on the webpage – hitherto just showing anonymous bids – will be updated to show the names of successful bidders. This should happen the same evening.
  • All Lot providers will be emailed to inform them whether their Lots were successfully bid for, either fully or partially, also providing contact details of the successful bidders, so the parties can get in touch to arrange ‘delivery’ of the Lot in question.

Bidders will also be emailed in due course to let them know if their Bid(s) have been successful (or not) and, if they have, how much their successful bids amount to, and how to pay it into the church account.

Large numbers of emails will need generating, so your patience will be much appreciated – thank you.

Here’s a generic list of the types of things which you might wish to offer (or request) in the VAoP.

Please don’t feel constrained by the following suggestions – the list is by no means exhaustive – besides, we’re always looking for new ideas and inspiration to keep the VAoP fresh – so please be creative and please be bold (we love that!).

Our maxim is that “No idea is a bad idea!” – if your idea needs discussion we’ll have that discussion with you;  if it’s not feasible under current conditions, maybe it’ll spark of a related idea which we can do?!

A note regarding ‘social activities’:  We’re taking the view that, whilst some of these these may not be feasible at present, it’s likely that things will change for the better over time, that restrictions will be eased, and things will be in place which make it safer to hold some events.  All social events and activities will, of course, be expected to adhere to prevailing regulations and government guidelines.
Another factor is of course your own confidence.  If you’re a ‘Lot Sponsor‘ and you’re happy with offering a particular social activity, then please feel free to offer it.
If you’re a Bidder, and you feel comfortable with engaging in an offered social activity, please do bid for it;  if you’re not, don’t!   You should also be prepared to take the risk that, should things take a turn for the worse, it may be that the activity you’ve bid for will either be delayed or may in the end, have to be cancelled (we hope not, but it’s worth bearing in mind).
Given that we will be donating all VAoP proceeds to our chosen charities early in 2021, we’re very sorry to say that we won’t be able to offer refunds for any cancelled events.  We very much hope you’ll understand.

The following all assume adherence to prevailing regs.

  • Offers of drink (e.g. bottles of wine)
  • Food / meals / cakes etc. – delivered
  • Food / meals / cakes etc. – provided outdoors
  • Quizzes (or similar) – online or gathered
  • Trips to the Tip
  • Gardening
  • Pet-sitting (@ provider’s home)
  • Holiday homes
  • Tuition (delivered online / remotely)
  • Coaching (e.g. swimming)
  • Talks (delivered online)
  • Research (e.g. family tree)
  • Photography
  • Outdoor decorating
  • Sale of items on eBay
  • Outdoor sports offers (e.g. rounds of golf)
  • Merchandise, Gifts or Craft creations (e.g. Christmas gifts, substantial items of good quality bric-a-brac*)

These are the more socially-orientated activities:

  • Airport (or similar) taxi runs
  • Baby-sitting
  • Hosting meals
  • Group outings
  • Talks (delivered to a gathered audience)
  • Tuition (requiring physical meeting)
  • Treatments
  • Indoor decorating

*  Items must be new / good as new / boxed to be accepted – thank you

Please email if you’d like clarification or to ask questions about anything at all – we’re happy to help you get involved in the AoP in whatever ways you’d like.

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All VAoP proceeds will go to our chosen charities which, this year, are:

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