Charity Auctions for Rookies: 7 Key Issues to Know



As a nonprofit skilled, you’ve in all probability 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 normal fundraising occasions, there’s merchandise procurement and bid monitoring to think about. The introduction of digital and hybrid choices has additional difficult issues, too.

Nonetheless, with a sturdy fundraising plan, you possibly can 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 pieces you want 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 you want to recruit?
  5. Which gadgets 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 could be definitely worth the effort. Use this information for all the pieces you want 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 wherein supporters bid on donated gadgets and packages. Your nonprofit is answerable for procuring gadgets or reserving packages (akin to trip stays or consignment journey) that can get supporters excited to bid. This stuff could be procured as in-kind donations from sponsors, bought outright by your nonprofit, or via public sale merchandise consignment companions.

In the course of the occasion, your supporters compete to put the very best bid on public sale gadgets. The particular person with the very best bid wins, and your group earns the proceeds. Typically, all charity auctions observe an identical four-step course of. Use the next timeline as a tenet:

  1. Open the bidding. If you happen to’re utilizing cell bidding software program, no matter whether or not it’s a reside, silent, or on-line public sale, bidding opens routinely at your preset time. If you happen to’re internet hosting a conventional paper-based silent public sale or a reside public sale, announce the opening of bidding to the friends.
  2. Start with a beginning bid. Every merchandise is assigned a beginning bid quantity previous to the occasion, normally at 35-50% of the market worth. That is the minimal quantity that the primary bidder can bid.
  3. Bid increments. Contributors will compete to put the very best bid. Every consecutive bid on an merchandise should sometimes be 10-15% larger than the earlier bid worth. Take into account including Purchase Now choices at 150%-200% of the merchandise’s worth to assist drive bidding and make it simple 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 needs to be given to members forward of time or configured into your cell bidding software program so the public sale can run easily. For extra data on the fundamental outlines of a charity public sale, try 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 finances 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:

  • Dwell public sale. A reside public sale is the traditional in-person occasion led by an auctioneer. Company announce their bids by elevating a bidding paddle, calling out quantities, or getting the auctioneer’s consideration in one other means. For a reside public sale, you have to to lease a venue, rent an auctioneer, and certain provide catering to your friends as a part of a broader night of leisure. 
  • Silent public sale. In contrast to a reside public sale, the bidding at a silent public sale is extra discrete and fewer public. Contributors write in bids on sheets of paper and may 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 cell software program. Due to its flexibility, you possibly can host an in-person, digital, or hybrid silent public sale. 
  • Digital public sale. A digital public sale incorporates conventional silent public sale components however takes all the course of on-line. Your nonprofit can attain folks from throughout. These occasions could be extremely cost-effective whereas nonetheless producing spectacular remaining income numbers. A digital public sale may also be longer in length than an in-person occasion. To make your on-line public sale extra participating, you should use a live-streaming platform to indicate off the gadgets and generate bids in actual time. 
  • Hybrid public sale. A hybrid public sale combines in-person and digital components for a memorable event. Sometimes, 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 possibly can 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 all these public sale sorts and scale them to your viewers dimension. A web based public sale could be an particularly great tool for smaller nonprofits to develop 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 components and managing all of them can simply get overwhelming. Nonetheless, working with charity public sale software program from the beginning of your planning course of drastically eases the effort. This software program may help you:

  • Increase 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 capable of present friends with further channels to donate exterior of shopping for auctioned gadgets. For instance, you possibly can 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 via the identical platform, eradicating a lot of the stress of coordination. Plus, as soon as your public sale is up and operating, your supporters received’t have to fret about navigating to a number of completely different websites to take part, which helps to maintain them engaged. 
  • Add comfort for members. Donors should purchase tickets, place and observe 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 priceless metrics. Software program brings all your planning into one platform, so you possibly can simply entry a whole view of your occasion’s success and overview 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 simple 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, in the event you select the proper software program it may be tailored for all sorts of public sale occasions you host sooner or later.

4. Which workforce members do you want 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 ensure it goes off and not using a hitch. Delegate duties throughout your workforce, making certain you’ve gotten people or teams to deal with the next components 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 attainable to your public sale (thereby growing the quantity of income it’ll generate!). If you happen to’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 effectively.
  • Merchandise procurement. This workforce solicits public sale gadgets for the occasion. Every member must be comfy soliciting donations and acquainted with which sorts of items would do effectively 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, aiding as public sale spotters/displays, or operating 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 observe whereas an auctioneer is the ringleader of a reside public sale.

To make your public sale as profitable as attainable, make sure to plan early. Selecting and establishing the proper software program and procuring gadgets generally is a very prolonged course of. One of the best ways to keep away from overwhelming your workforce is by making ready as quickly as attainable. 

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

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

  • If you happen to’ve held an public sale up to now, mirror on its success. Evaluation which gadgets had been fashionable sellers and think about bringing them again or related gadgets that will equally appeal to curiosity. 
  • Take into account your friends’ worth vary. Don’t procure costly spa weekends in case your donors could be extra more likely to bid on reasonably priced restaurant reward playing cards and even nonprofit merchandise like t-shirts.
  • Perceive your friends’ pursuits. Take into account what’s fashionable in your group and what would genuinely be desired. For instance, in the event you’re an animal rescue nonprofit, your supporters would in all probability take pleasure in a day hanging with puppies or kittens! 
  • Keep in mind provide and demand. Public sale gadgets which can be uncommon or distinctive are more likely to be of curiosity to most audiences.
  • Differ your gadgets. Keep away from procuring gadgets that each one fall in a single class, akin to solely expertise packages or solely merchandise. 

Begin with asking coworkers, buddies, members of the family, and another private {and professional} connections to donate gadgets. Flip to native companies and retailers to see in the event that they’ll donate services or products as in-kind items. When in search of company items, you’ll have to do your analysis on potential company companions and decide a enterprise with related 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, in the event you’re utilizing public sale software program, deliver the ticketing course of on-line for comfort. It may be useful to faucet into a number of advertising and marketing channels to deliver consideration to your occasion, akin to:

  • Social Media. Social media is a strong device to develop your nonprofit’s attain and get a whole bunch (and even hundreds) of individuals to find out about your occasion. Resolve on which platform could also be simplest to unfold the phrase about your occasion. This can be based mostly in your supposed viewers’s demographic and which platform they’d be most certainly to make use of. Then, create participating graphics or video content material creating pleasure round your public sale with directions on how to enroll. 
  • Electronic mail. Ship out an e mail to your supporters highlighting your occasion with a hyperlink on to your registration web page. Your e mail ought to emphasize an important data and embody a number of visuals to interrupt up lengthy paragraphs. 
  • Textual content. When you have your supporters’ cellphone 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 good alternative to market your public sale. You may even embody an choice in your message to donate earlier than the occasion. 

By giving friends a style of what your public sale will maintain prematurely, you’ll have the ability to successfully drum up pleasure. You can even arrange an internet public sale web site via your public sale software program to function a catalog for the occasion, supplying you with one other priceless 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 title or theme, the schedule, what the proceeds will profit, the foundations for bidding, and directions for utilizing your cell 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 offer, so put together to benefit from this momentum whereas it exists!

Take into account the next methods to maximise income at your subsequent charity public sale: 

  • Make a reside attraction. Your emcee or auctioneer asks friends for donations, reminding them of a fundraising aim your group hopes to achieve by the top of the night time. Show a fundraising thermometer all through the occasion so friends can observe how shut you’re attending to the aim.
  • Promote fastened priced gadgets. These are gadgets which can be offered, not auctioned, for a set worth. This contains additional occasion actions (akin to reward playing cards or a thriller field drawing) and even occasion merchandise and equipment.
  • Create social gathering sign-ups. Plan a enjoyable occasion and promote visitor spots on the occasion. Examples of this could be a film night time, a gaggle cooking class, or perhaps a themed social gathering. These work effectively for digital or hybrid occasions and could be led by volunteer ambassadors.
  • Use a donation sales space. It is a great way to offer a giving alternative to those that don’t find yourself leaving with an merchandise. As an alternative of ready in a protracted checkout line, friends can provide rapidly and simply. If you happen to’re utilizing cell bidding software program, there’s no want for a bodily sales space as donors can provide via their telephones.
  • Goal your audiences. If you happen to’re internet hosting a hybrid public sale, you’ll have to develop methods that can 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 completely different gadgets to every viewers as wanted—reside bidding for luxurious trip packages, hybrid bidding for the fuller vary of things in your catalog, and many others. This helps you fundraise extra effectively and get monetary savings 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 just a few methods you possibly can maximize income at your subsequent public sale. You realize your viewers greatest, so tailor your fundraising methods to your supporters to extend your occasion’s success. 

Wrapping Up

Auctions generally is 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 possibly can successfully have interaction your viewers with pleasant competitors, enjoyable gadgets, and alternatives to offer again to your nonprofit. With the assistance of charity public sale software program, the planning course of can be a lot smoother in your workforce. 

Concerning the Writer

Kelly Velasquez-Hague

Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit administration, and gross sales/advertising and marketing expertise to her position 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 captivated with empowering nice missions and loves that her present position permits her to proceed to assist nonprofits attain new donors and lift extra funds for his or her trigger.



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