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Charity Auctions for Newbies: 7 Key Issues to Know


As a nonprofit skilled, you’ve most likely heard that charity auctions are time-consuming. On prime of the venue particulars, ticketing, and advertising you’re used to dealing with for basic 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 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 neighborhood—both in-person or on-line—and have interaction donors with pleasant competitors. 

Right here’s every thing you’ll 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 must you host?
  3. How can charity public sale software program assist?
  4. Which staff members do you’ll want to recruit?
  5. Which objects must you procure, and the way?
  6. How do you promote an public sale occasion?
  7. How will you 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 every thing you’ll 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 by which supporters bid on donated objects and packages. Your nonprofit is liable for procuring objects or reserving packages (comparable to trip stays or consignment journey) that can get supporters excited to bid. This stuff may be procured as in-kind donations from sponsors, bought outright by your nonprofit, or via public sale merchandise consignment companions.

Through the occasion, your supporters compete to position the very best bid on public sale objects. The individual with the very best bid wins, and your group earns the proceeds. Usually, all charity auctions comply with an identical four-step course of. Use the next timeline as a suggestion:

  1. Open the bidding. For those who’re utilizing cell 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. For those who’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 position the very best bid. Every consecutive bid on an merchandise should usually be 10-15% better 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 straightforward for supporters who need to pay prime greenback.
  4. Shut bidding. Whoever positioned the ultimate, highest bid is the winner of that merchandise. The winner pays the agreed funds on to your nonprofit. 

Bid increment directions ought to be given to individuals 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 must you host? 

Relying in your nonprofit’s finances and measurement, some public sale varieties 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 traditional 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 manner. For a reside public sale, you will want to lease a venue, rent an auctioneer, and sure provide catering to your friends 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. Contributors write in bids on sheets of paper and may verify again to see in the event that they’ve been outbid, then write in a better bid quantity. A silent public sale also can 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 your complete course of on-line. Your nonprofit can attain folks from throughout. These occasions may be extremely cost-effective whereas nonetheless producing spectacular remaining income numbers. A digital public sale may also be longer in period than an in-person occasion. To make your on-line public sale extra partaking, you should utilize 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 components 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 can invite a restricted in-person visitor checklist to a venue and enable a digital viewers to interact in real-time bidding. 

The pliability of codecs permits organizations of any measurement to host an public sale. Take any considered one of these public sale varieties and scale them to your viewers measurement. An internet public sale may 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. Nevertheless, working with charity public sale software program from the beginning of your planning course of drastically eases the trouble. This software program can assist you:

  • Elevate more cash. This software program takes the bidding course of on-line, so these bodily in attendance and those that aren’t can each take part. Additional, you’re in a position to present friends with extra channels to donate outdoors of shopping for auctioned objects. 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 working, 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 individuals. Donors should buy tickets, place and observe bids, and checkout on-line. This simplifies the donor expertise and eliminates the trouble of ready in lengthy strains to take a look at after the very fact.
  • Entry precious metrics. Software program brings your entire planning into one platform, so you possibly can simply entry an entire view of your occasion’s success and assessment alternatives for enchancment. 

Internet hosting a charity public sale is a good way to spice up income and engagement, however you additionally must make the planning straightforward in your employees. 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, when you select the correct software program it may be tailored for all sorts of public sale occasions you host sooner or later.

4. Which staff members do you’ll want to recruit?

Simply as with every different fundraising occasion, charity auctions require a devoted staff of staffers and volunteers to run easily. You’ll want helpers earlier than, throughout, and after the occasion to verify it goes off with no hitch. Delegate duties throughout your staff, making certain you will have people or teams to deal with the next components of your public sale:

  • Occasion planning. This staff plans the occasion, together with selecting the date, reserving the venue, recruiting volunteers, and even spreading the phrase. Your staff will want a sturdy nonprofit advertising plan to draw as many individuals as attainable to your public sale (thereby rising the quantity of income it should generate!). For those who’re internet hosting a digital or hybrid public sale, you’ll profit from having a devoted sub-team or committee for dealing with know-how, as nicely.
  • Merchandise procurement. This staff solicits public sale objects for the occasion. Every member must be snug 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/screens, or working registration and checkout.
  • Emcee or auctioneer. You’ll must recruit an emcee or an auctioneer, relying on which sort 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, you’ll want to plan early. Selecting and organising the correct software program and procuring objects generally is a very prolonged course of. One of the simplest ways to keep away from overwhelming your staff is by making ready as quickly as attainable. 

5. Which objects must you procure, and the way?

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

  • For those who’ve held an public sale up to now, mirror on its success. Assessment which objects have been common sellers and think about bringing them again or related objects that will equally entice curiosity. 
  • Take into account your friends’ value vary. Don’t procure costly spa weekends in case your donors can be extra prone to bid on reasonably priced restaurant present playing cards and even nonprofit merchandise like t-shirts.
  • Perceive your friends’ pursuits. Take into account what’s common in your neighborhood and what would genuinely be desired. For instance, when you’re an animal rescue nonprofit, your supporters would most likely get pleasure from a day hanging with puppies or kittens! 
  • Bear 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, comparable to solely expertise packages or solely merchandise. 

Begin with asking coworkers, buddies, relations, and some 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 must 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 checklist, retaining the dimensions of your venue in thoughts. Ship out invitations and, when you’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 channels to carry consideration to your occasion, comparable to:

  • Social Media. Social media is a strong instrument to develop your nonprofit’s attain and get a whole lot (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 will likely be based mostly in your supposed viewers’s demographic and which platform they’d be probably to make use of. Then, create partaking graphics or video content material creating pleasure round your public sale with directions on how to enroll. 
  • E 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 embrace a number of visuals to interrupt up lengthy paragraphs. 
  • Textual content. In case you 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. Based on 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, textual content message audiences grew by 26% final yr, which implies that texting is a superb alternative to market your public sale. You possibly can even embrace an choice in your message to donate earlier than the occasion. 

By giving friends a style of what your public sale will maintain upfront, you’ll be capable of successfully drum up pleasure. It’s also possible to 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 precious advertising asset.

Embody 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 cell bidding platform if relevant.

7. How will you maximize incoming public sale income? 

Public sale occasions are inclined to get donors within the temper to provide, 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 evening. Show a fundraising thermometer all through the occasion so friends can observe how shut you’re attending to the aim.
  • Promote mounted priced objects. These are objects which are offered, not auctioned, for a set value. This consists of further occasion actions (comparable to present playing cards or a thriller field drawing) and even occasion merchandise and equipment.
  • Create occasion sign-ups. Plan a enjoyable occasion and promote visitor spots on the occasion. Examples of this might be a film evening, a bunch cooking class, or perhaps a themed occasion. 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 supply a giving alternative to those that don’t find yourself leaving with an merchandise. As a substitute of ready in an extended checkout line, friends may give rapidly and simply. For those who’re utilizing cell bidding software program, there’s no want for a bodily sales space as donors may give via their telephones.
  • Goal your audiences. For those who’re internet hosting a hybrid public sale, you’ll must 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 objects 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 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 possibly can maximize income at your subsequent public sale. You recognize your viewers finest, 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 objects, and alternatives to provide again to your nonprofit. With the assistance of charity public sale software program, the planning course of will likely be a lot smoother to your staff. 


In regards to the Writer

Kelly Velasquez-Hague

Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit administration, and gross sales/advertising expertise to her function because the Director of Content material Advertising and marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause gross sales and advertising staff, Kelly manages all the firm’s content material technique and execution. She is captivated 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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