Photo: How to hold a skill swap auction

I learned how to quilt with a few lessons from my co-worker Heather thanks to a skill swap auction! (Credit: Lindsay Coulter)

We are all more than the titles on our business cards.

What if your CEO could top a tree? Maybe your colleague a cubicle over also teaches salsa dancing or cans the best beet pickles ever.

The above actually describes the David Suzuki Foundation! Who knew?

Once upon a time, our office kitchen was in need of nontoxic cookware. To raise funds to purchase some, while creatively sourcing goods and services and nurturing our workplace community, I invented the Skill Swap Auction.

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Here's how it works: each staff member donates a skill, sets a minimum bid, and writes it up on a sheet (use our handy template). The diversity of skills is what makes it so fun—bike tune-ups, dog walking, hemming pants, song writing—again, all auction items donated by Foundation staffers!

Post the sheets in a common area, give people two weeks to bid, and announce the winners. It's like a silent auction. How you use the funds collected is up to you (a donation to the David Suzuki Foundation wouldn't hurt).

Great for workplaces, schools—even a birthday party theme!

Will you host a skill swap auction? (I'd also love to hear about your mad skills.)

Post a comment here and enter to win a $25 gift certificate to spend on ethicalDeal. ethicalDeal helps you save on greener choices for everyday living like organic food, natural beauty products, green cleaning products and more!

Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

February 26, 2012

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Mar 06, 2012
10:01 AM

Wonderful initiative Lindsay. Congrats!

@Liz: Try swapping your fire skills at

Vive la Swap!

Mar 06, 2012
7:12 AM

We love this idea and are hoping a Girl Guide Unit will take up this idea as a way to teach the girls about environmentally sustainability. It's a perfect idea in that participating in swap would reinforce a girl's confidence in herself and her own (unique) skills — whatever they may be!

Mar 01, 2012
1:30 PM

I love this idea! Our last workplace silent auction included homemade cakes, crochet blankets, and jam so adding skills would be a great addition. Thanks!

Mar 01, 2012
9:46 AM

I was just thinking about this today its like a skill bartering system…it's what they used to do in the beginning of time instead of exchanging money. I think it's a fantastic idea and if the financial system ever collapses this is what we would go back to or if we lose electricity I think valuable skills would include an array of survival skills. I recently learnt how to make fire without any matches. I think we rely to much on the system and it's important to learn the basic skills of survival.

Feb 29, 2012
7:34 PM

My friends and I do this every month or so. A lot of them are in the trades so they have the knowledge for almost anything around the house. Every month we go to a friends house and do all sorts of handyman/woman work. Everything from fixing electrical to refinishing floors. The homeowner provides a potluck style meal and gets skilled tradespeople to work on their house for a couple days — for free minus product costs.

Feb 26, 2012
10:23 AM

My elementary school had a skill swap portion of their annual fall action. Lots of youth participated by offering baby sitting services, or lawn mowing. Some people offered home cooked meals, or themed meals. I like the variety of other skills listed in this article. I'd definitely bid on learning how to pickle and can, or someone who could show me how to trim my fruit tree, or make a good pastry crust. I'll keep this in mind next time I'm somewhere brainstorming fundraiser ideas.

Feb 26, 2012
10:19 AM

Very cool idea. Even not as a fundraiser, if you got a bunch of people together and swapped skills, so in return for your skill donation, you get something from someone else!

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