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Charity Auctions for Learners: 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 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 sophisticated issues, too.

Nonetheless, with a sturdy fundraising plan, you’ll be able to maintain a extremely profitable charity public sale that may not solely enhance income however deepen engagement. Charity auctions are an effective way to create a sense of neighborhood—both in-person or on-line—and interact donors with pleasant competitors. 

Right here’s every little thing 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 kind of public sale do you have to host?
  3. How can charity public sale software program assist?
  4. Which crew 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 might be well worth the effort. Use this information for every little thing 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 by which supporters bid on donated objects and packages. Your nonprofit is answerable for procuring objects or reserving packages (comparable to trip stays or consignment journey) that may get supporters excited to bid. These things might be procured as in-kind donations from sponsors, bought outright by your nonprofit, or by public sale merchandise consignment companions.

In the course of 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. Generally, all charity auctions observe the same four-step course of. Use the next timeline as a suggestion:

  1. Open the bidding. Should you’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. Should you’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. Members will compete to put the best bid. Every consecutive bid on an merchandise should usually be 10-15% higher 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 simple for supporters who wish 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 contributors 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, take a look at this OneCause information to planning a charity public sale

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

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

  • Stay 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 method. For a reside public sale, you will have 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. 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 test again to see in the event that they’ve been outbid, then write in the next bid quantity. A silent public sale may happen with cell software program. Due to its flexibility, you’ll be able to 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 your complete course of on-line. Your nonprofit can attain individuals from throughout. These occasions might be extremely cost-effective whereas nonetheless producing spectacular last income numbers. A digital public sale can 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 objects and generate bids in actual time. 
  • Hybrid public sale. A hybrid public sale combines in-person and digital parts 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 listing to a venue and permit a digital viewers to interact in real-time bidding. 

The flexibleness of codecs permits organizations of any dimension to host an public sale. Take any one among these public sale varieties and scale them to your viewers dimension. A web based public sale might 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 elements 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 also help you:

  • Increase extra money. 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 outdoors of shopping for auctioned objects. For instance, you’ll be able to 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 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 contributors. Donors can buy tickets, place and monitor bids, and checkout on-line. This simplifies the donor expertise and eliminates the effort of ready in lengthy strains to take a look at after the actual fact.
  • Entry precious metrics. Software program brings all your planning into one platform, so you’ll be able to simply entry an entire view of your occasion’s success and overview alternatives for enchancment. 

Internet hosting a charity public sale is an effective 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, if you happen to select the precise software program it may be tailored for all sorts of public sale occasions you host sooner or later.

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

Simply as with all different fundraising occasion, charity auctions require a devoted crew 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 crew, guaranteeing you could have people or teams to deal with the next elements of your public sale:

  • Occasion planning. This crew plans the occasion, together with selecting the date, reserving the venue, recruiting volunteers, and even spreading the phrase. Your crew will want a sturdy nonprofit advertising and marketing plan to draw as many individuals as potential to your public sale (thereby rising the quantity of income it is going to generate!). Should you’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 crew solicits public sale objects for the occasion. Every member must be snug soliciting donations and acquainted with which kinds 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, 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 monitor whereas an auctioneer is the ringleader of a reside public sale.

To make your public sale as profitable as potential, make sure to plan early. Selecting and establishing the precise software program and procuring objects generally is a very prolonged course of. The easiest way to keep away from overwhelming your crew is by getting ready as quickly as potential. 

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 could lie. Brainstorm which objects would possibly attraction most to your particular donors utilizing the next suggestions: 

  • Should you’ve held an public sale prior to now, replicate on its success. Assessment which objects had been widespread sellers and contemplate bringing them again or comparable objects that might equally appeal to curiosity. 
  • Contemplate your friends’ value vary. Don’t procure costly spa weekends in case your donors can be extra prone to bid on reasonably priced restaurant reward playing cards and even nonprofit merchandise like t-shirts.
  • Perceive your friends’ pursuits. Contemplate what’s widespread in your neighborhood and what would genuinely be desired. For instance, if you happen to’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.
  • Differ 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, mates, relations, and another 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 looking 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 listing, maintaining the dimensions of your venue in thoughts. Ship out invitations and, if you happen to’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, 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 study your occasion. Determine on which platform could also be simplest to unfold the phrase about your occasion. This will likely be primarily based in your meant 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. 
  • 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 a very powerful data and embrace a number of visuals to interrupt up lengthy paragraphs. 
  • Textual content. In case you have your supporters’ cellphone numbers and a text-to-give platform arrange, texting is an effective way to achieve out to supporters and ensure they see the message. In keeping with 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 may even embrace an possibility 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. You too can arrange a web based public sale web site by your public sale software program to function a catalog for the occasion, supplying you with one other precious 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 provide, so put together to benefit from this momentum whereas it exists!

Contemplate 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 objective your group hopes to achieve by the tip of the night time. Show a fundraising thermometer all through the occasion so friends can monitor how shut you’re attending to the objective.
  • Promote fastened priced objects. These are objects which are bought, not auctioned, for a set value. This consists of further occasion actions (comparable to reward 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 might be a film night time, a gaggle cooking class, or perhaps a themed get together. These work nicely for digital or hybrid occasions and might be led by volunteer ambassadors.
  • Use a donation sales space. It is 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 can provide rapidly and simply. Should you’re utilizing cell bidding software program, there’s no want for a bodily sales space as donors can provide by their telephones.
  • Goal your audiences. Should 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 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’ll be able to maximize income at your subsequent public sale. You understand 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 propose to host your public sale in-person or nearly, you’ll be able to 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 crew. 


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 position because the Director of Content material Advertising for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause gross sales and advertising and marketing crew, 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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