Steps to Hosting an Online Auction for a Charity

by J.B. Maverick

2 min read

Auctions are a traditional and effective way to earn more for charities and nonprofit organizations. Unfortunately, these events have a lot of ancillary costs such as renting space and hiring staff. Luckily, there is a new alternative — you can move your auctions online. This is a great way to reach people at home or in their leisure time, and the process may be easier than you think.

Platform

If you like, you can hire an IT person to create an online charity auction on your own website. Alternatively, consider turning to an established online auction platform. Companies such as eBay Giving Works, 32 Auctions, and eFlea allow you to easily set up online auctions.

These organizations let you to upload images of several items and set bidding prices. When potential donors want to bid, the website collects their credit card details, stores them, and charges the winners at the end of the auction. In some cases, you can even find additional features such as email or text alerts for people who have been outbid.

When comparing different platforms, make sure to consider pricing. Also, keep in mind that it may be worth it to pay for features that boost engagement. Consider the user interface of each platform — the easier it is to use, the more likely donors will be to stick around on the site and bid on items.

Auction Items

To find items, reach out to your regular donors or prominent community leaders about making donations to the auction. Also talk with local businesses about making donations. In addition to community goodwill, participating in programs like this can help businesses from a branding perspective. By extension, you may want to have details ready about how many people you anticipate seeing or participating in the auction. If they can be assured that they will get some exposure, that may help encourage some businesses to participate.

Pictures

Because people cannot see the items in person, you want to provide clear, colourful photographs of each item. Consider hiring a professional photographer to make the most of your shots. If you are auctioning off gift certificates, consider posting a picture of the business involved or their logo.

Marketing

If you build it, they won’t necessarily come. If you want your auction to be successful, you need to make sure people hear about it. Depending on the size of your auction, you may want to purchase ads in print publications or on TV. In all cases, you should send alerts to your mailing list, use social media to promote the event, and consider creating an event on a platform such as Facebook so that you can gauge interest, invite people, and send reminders about the event.

Timing

As you plan your auction, you need to decide how long it is going to last. You want the auction to be open long enough so people have ample time to bid. However, immediacy can be key in sales or soliciting donations, so you don’t want to drag it out too long. Investigate what has worked for similar charities in your area.

References & Resources

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