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Charity Auctions for Novices: 7 Key Issues to Know


Nov 11, 2023


As a nonprofit skilled, you’ve most likely heard that charity auctions are time-consuming. On high of the venue particulars, ticketing, and advertising and marketing you’re used to dealing with for common fundraising occasions, there’s merchandise procurement and bid monitoring to contemplate. The introduction of digital and hybrid choices has additional difficult issues, too.

Nevertheless, with a sturdy fundraising plan, you may maintain a extremely profitable charity public sale that may not solely enhance income however deepen engagement. Charity auctions are a good way to create a sense of group—both in-person or on-line—and have interaction donors with pleasant competitors. 

Right here’s all the things it’s good to know to host your first profitable charity public sale:

  1. What’s a charity public sale and what does it appear to be?
  2. Which sort of public sale do you have to host?
  3. How can charity public sale software program assist?
  4. Which workforce members do it’s good to recruit?
  5. Which objects do you have to procure, and the way?
  6. How do you promote an public sale occasion?
  7. How are you going to maximize incoming public sale income?

A charity public sale could also be extra intricate to plan than your different fundraising occasions, however the payoff in fundraising income and donor engagement may be definitely worth the effort. Use this information for all the things it’s good to get began. 

1. What’s a charity public sale and what does it appear to be?

A charity public sale is a fundraising occasion during which supporters bid on donated objects and packages. Your nonprofit is chargeable for procuring objects or reserving packages (similar to trip stays or consignment journey) that may get supporters excited to bid. This stuff may be procured as in-kind donations from sponsors, bought outright by your nonprofit, or by way of public sale merchandise consignment companions.

Through the occasion, your supporters compete to put the best bid on public sale objects. The particular person with the best bid wins, and your group earns the proceeds. Basically, all charity auctions comply with an analogous four-step course of. Use the next timeline as a tenet:

  1. Open the bidding. In the event you’re utilizing cellular bidding software program, no matter whether or not it’s a reside, silent, or on-line public sale, bidding opens robotically at your preset time. In the event you’re internet hosting a standard paper-based silent public sale or a reside public sale, announce the opening of bidding to the visitors.
  2. Start with a beginning bid. Every merchandise is assigned a beginning bid quantity previous to the occasion, often at 35-50% of the market worth. That is the minimal quantity that the primary bidder can bid.
  3. Bid increments. Members will compete to put the best bid. Every consecutive bid on an merchandise should sometimes be 10-15% larger than the earlier bid worth. Contemplate including Purchase Now choices at 150%-200% of the merchandise’s worth to assist drive bidding and make it straightforward for supporters who wish to pay high greenback.
  4. Shut bidding. Whoever positioned the ultimate, highest bid is the winner of that merchandise. The winner can pay the agreed funds on to your nonprofit. 

Bid increment directions ought to be given to contributors forward of time or configured into your cellular bidding software program so the public sale can run easily. For extra info on the fundamental outlines of a charity public sale, take a look at this OneCause information to planning a charity public sale

2. Which sort of public sale do you have to host? 

Relying in your nonprofit’s funds and dimension, some public sale sorts could also be extra favorable than others. There are 4 several types of charity auctions that your group can host:

  • Reside public sale. A reside public sale is the basic in-person occasion led by an auctioneer. Visitors announce their bids by elevating a bidding paddle, calling out quantities, or getting the auctioneer’s consideration in one other approach. For a reside public sale, you will want to lease a venue, rent an auctioneer, and sure provide catering to your visitors as a part of a broader night of leisure. 
  • Silent public sale. Not like a reside public sale, the bidding at a silent public sale is extra discrete and fewer public. Members write in bids on sheets of paper and might examine again to see in the event that they’ve been outbid, then write in the next bid quantity. A silent public sale can even happen with cellular software program. Due to its flexibility, you may host an in-person, digital, or hybrid silent public sale. 
  • Digital public sale. A digital public sale incorporates conventional silent public sale parts however takes the complete course of on-line. Your nonprofit can attain folks from throughout. These occasions may be extremely cost-effective whereas nonetheless producing spectacular ultimate income numbers. A digital public sale can be longer in period than an in-person occasion. To make your on-line public sale extra participating, you need to use a live-streaming platform to point out off the objects and generate bids in actual time. 
  • Hybrid public sale. A hybrid public sale combines in-person and digital parts for a memorable event. Usually, a hybrid public sale will contain a digital public sale with in-person reside or silent bidding for a smaller viewers. For instance, with a hybrid silent public sale, you might invite a restricted in-person visitor record to a venue and permit a digital viewers to have interaction in real-time bidding. 

The pliability of codecs permits organizations of any dimension to host an public sale. Take any one in every of these public sale sorts and scale them to your viewers dimension. A web based public sale may be an particularly useful gizmo for smaller nonprofits to increase their attain. 

3. How can charity public sale software program assist?

Planning and internet hosting a charity public sale is time, useful resource, and manpower-intensive. There are a ton of transferring elements and managing all of them can simply get overwhelming. Nevertheless, working with charity public sale software program from the beginning of your planning course of drastically eases the effort. This software program will help you:

  • Elevate more cash. This software program takes the bidding course of on-line, so these bodily in attendance and people who aren’t can each take part. Additional, you’re in a position to present visitors with further channels to donate outdoors of shopping for auctioned objects. For instance, you may add a “Donate” button to your public sale webpage so supporters can merely donate any quantity to your trigger.
  • Simplify the planning course of. All logistics are automated and run by way of the identical platform, eradicating a lot of the stress of coordination. Plus, as soon as your public sale is up and working, your supporters received’t have to fret about navigating to a number of totally different websites to take part, which helps to maintain them engaged. 
  • Add comfort for contributors. Donors should buy tickets, place and monitor bids, and checkout on-line. This simplifies the donor expertise and eliminates the effort of ready in lengthy traces to take a look at after the very fact.
  • Entry helpful metrics. Software program brings all your planning into one platform, so you may simply entry a whole view of your occasion’s success and evaluate alternatives for enchancment. 

Internet hosting a charity public sale is a good way to spice up income and engagement, however you additionally have to make the planning straightforward in your workers. That is the place public sale software program can turn out to be useful, particularly to streamline the behind-the-scenes group and execution. Plus, for those who select the correct software program it may be tailored for every type of public sale occasions you host sooner or later.

4. Which workforce members do it’s good to recruit?

Simply as with every different fundraising occasion, charity auctions require a devoted workforce of staffers and volunteers to run easily. You’ll want helpers earlier than, throughout, and after the occasion to verify it goes off with out a hitch. Delegate duties throughout your workforce, making certain you will have people or teams to deal with the next elements of your public sale:

  • Occasion planning. This workforce plans the occasion, together with selecting the date, reserving the venue, recruiting volunteers, and even spreading the phrase. Your workforce will want a sturdy nonprofit advertising and marketing plan to draw as many individuals as doable to your public sale (thereby rising the quantity of income it is going to generate!). In the event you’re internet hosting a digital or hybrid public sale, you’ll profit from having a devoted sub-team or committee for dealing with expertise, as nicely.
  • Merchandise procurement. This workforce solicits public sale objects for the occasion. Every member must be comfy soliciting donations and aware of which varieties of items would do nicely amongst your nonprofit’s viewers. 
  • Occasion volunteers. Volunteers are important to pulling off any in-person public sale occasions, whether or not they’re serving to with arrange or tear down, helping as public sale spotters/displays, or working registration and checkout.
  • Emcee or auctioneer. You’ll have to recruit an emcee or an auctioneer, relying on which kind of occasion you’re internet hosting. An emcee retains an in-person or digital silent public sale on monitor whereas an auctioneer is the ringleader of a reside public sale.

To make your public sale as profitable as doable, remember to plan early. Selecting and organising the correct software program and procuring objects could be a very prolonged course of. The easiest way to keep away from overwhelming your workforce is by getting ready as quickly as doable. 

5. Which objects do you have to procure, and the way?

The charity public sale objects you procure will rely largely on what your donors are prepared to pay and the place their pursuits might lie. Brainstorm which objects would possibly enchantment most to your particular donors utilizing the next suggestions: 

  • In the event you’ve held an public sale up to now, mirror on its success. Overview which objects have been widespread sellers and think about bringing them again or comparable objects that may equally entice curiosity. 
  • Contemplate your visitors’ worth vary. Don’t procure costly spa weekends in case your donors could be extra prone to bid on reasonably priced restaurant present playing cards and even nonprofit merchandise like t-shirts.
  • Perceive your visitors’ pursuits. Contemplate what’s widespread in your group and what would genuinely be desired. For instance, for those who’re an animal rescue nonprofit, your supporters would most likely get pleasure from a day hanging with puppies or kittens! 
  • Keep in mind provide and demand. Public sale objects which are uncommon or distinctive are more likely to be of curiosity to most audiences.
  • Range your objects. Keep away from procuring objects that every one fall in a single class, similar to solely expertise packages or solely merchandise. 

Begin with asking coworkers, associates, relations, and every other private {and professional} connections to donate objects. Flip to native companies and retailers to see in the event that they’ll donate services or products as in-kind items. When searching for company items, you’ll have to do your analysis on potential company companions and decide a enterprise with comparable values. 

6. How do you promote an public sale occasion?

Start with compiling a visitor record, holding the dimensions of your venue in thoughts. Ship out invitations and, for those who’re utilizing public sale software program, carry the ticketing course of on-line for comfort. It may be useful to faucet into a number of advertising and marketing channels to carry consideration to your occasion, similar to:

  • Social Media. Social media is a strong device to increase your nonprofit’s attain and get tons of (and even 1000’s) of individuals to find out about your occasion. Determine on which platform could also be handiest to unfold the phrase about your occasion. This will probably be based mostly in your meant viewers’s demographic and which platform they’d be almost definitely to make use of. Then, create participating graphics or video content material creating pleasure round your public sale with directions on how to enroll. 
  • E mail. Ship out an electronic mail to your supporters highlighting your occasion with a hyperlink on to your registration web page. Your electronic mail ought to emphasize crucial info and embrace a number of visuals to interrupt up lengthy paragraphs. 
  • Textual content. You probably have your supporters’ telephone numbers and a text-to-give platform arrange, texting is a good way to achieve out to supporters and ensure they see the message. In accordance with 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, textual content message audiences grew by 26% final yr, which signifies that texting is a superb alternative to market your public sale. You’ll be able to even embrace an choice in your message to donate earlier than the occasion. 

By giving visitors a style of what your public sale will maintain upfront, you’ll be capable to successfully drum up pleasure. You may as well arrange an internet public sale web site by way of your public sale software program to function a catalog for the occasion, providing you with one other helpful advertising and marketing asset.

Embrace all important details about the occasion itself on the web site. This features a brief introduction to your group, the occasion identify or theme, the schedule, what the proceeds will profit, the principles for bidding, and directions for utilizing your cellular bidding platform if relevant.

7. How are you going to maximize incoming public sale income? 

Public sale occasions are likely to get donors within the temper to provide, so put together to profit from this momentum whereas it exists!

Contemplate the next methods to maximise income at your subsequent charity public sale: 

  • Make a reside enchantment. Your emcee or auctioneer asks visitors for donations, reminding them of a fundraising purpose your group hopes to achieve by the top of the evening. Show a fundraising thermometer all through the occasion so visitors can monitor how shut you’re attending to the purpose.
  • Promote fastened priced objects. These are objects which are offered, not auctioned, for a set worth. This consists of further occasion actions (similar to present playing cards or a thriller field drawing) and even occasion merchandise and equipment.
  • Create get together sign-ups. Plan a enjoyable occasion and promote visitor spots on the occasion. Examples of this may be a film evening, a bunch cooking class, or perhaps a themed get together. These work nicely for digital or hybrid occasions and may be led by volunteer ambassadors.
  • Use a donation sales space. This can be a great way to offer a giving alternative to those that don’t find yourself leaving with an merchandise. As a substitute of ready in an extended checkout line, visitors can provide shortly and simply. In the event you’re utilizing cellular bidding software program, there’s no want for a bodily sales space as donors can provide by way of their telephones.
  • Goal your audiences. In the event you’re internet hosting a hybrid public sale, you’ll have to develop methods that may have interaction each in-person and distant attendees. For instance, invite a smaller group of main donors to the in-person occasion and everybody to the digital occasion. Then, goal your totally different objects to every viewers as wanted—reside bidding for luxurious trip packages, hybrid bidding for the fuller vary of things in your catalog, and so on. This helps you fundraise extra effectively and lower your expenses on the in-person logistics.
  • Promote adverts in your catalog. Each attendee will browse your public sale catalog whether or not it’s a printed model or on-line, and that’s an enormous promoting level! Present merchandise donors and native companies with the choice to purchase an advert in your catalog (digital or paper) and have their brand featured someplace inside.

These are only some methods you may maximize income at your subsequent public sale. You understand your viewers finest, so tailor your fundraising methods to your supporters to extend your occasion’s success. 

Wrapping Up

Auctions could be a lot to plan, however the fundraising potential of those occasions is excessive. Whether or not you intend to host your public sale in-person or just about, you may successfully have interaction your viewers with pleasant competitors, enjoyable objects, and alternatives to provide again to your nonprofit. With the assistance of charity public sale software program, the planning course of will probably be a lot smoother to your workforce. 

In regards to the Creator

Kelly Velasquez-Hague

Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit administration, and gross sales/advertising and marketing expertise to her function because the Director of Content material Advertising for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause gross sales and advertising and marketing workforce, Kelly manages all the firm’s content material technique and execution. She is obsessed with empowering nice missions and loves that her present function permits her to proceed to assist nonprofits attain new donors and lift extra funds for his or her trigger.


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