10 Steps to Auction Success

All non-profits must find ways to earn money to support their organization and cause. Luckily, there are many ways to do this, from charity events to marketing and crowdfunding campaigns. An event that has a lot of success is charity auctions. These events produce a lot of revenue because people are always willing to support a cause when they get something too. Auctions give them a better incentive. Also, businesses donate items because they get free advertising as a result of a successful charity auction. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Now, there is a lot of work that goes into a fundraising auction. This article highlights ten easy steps to give you everything you need to succeed.

Step 1: Choose your Auction

The first step is to decide what type of auction you want to do. Many organizations are moving their auctions exclusively online. Radio auctions are popular with small towns because of the reach the radio helps them achieve. There are also a lot of benefits to holding an in-person auction event. Regardless of which type of auction you choose, you can easily utilize an online auction system to ease the burden just a little bit and provide more ways for people to join in. If you’re willing to cover shipping costs, you can auction your items to people around the world.

Step 2: Plan Your Dates

Next, it is time to plan your dates and times. Charity events are often held in spring and early fall. There is a greater chance of people not attending in summer and winter. Keep in mind the weather where you live. Northern areas will want to avoid winter, while some areas will have a difficult time in mid-summer to early autumn for fires and hurricane season. Avoid having another event on the same day as yours by keeping an eye on other local organizations. Also, pay attention to sporting events!

The best time for auctions depends on the day you hold them. Many organizations choose Saturday for events because many people are off work and had a chance to relax after a tough week. Deciding on a day and time depends on what type of people you want to attract to the auction. If your demographic is older, an earlier time is better, while a younger crowd is more willing to stay up later. If you are holding an event while using an online auction software set up on a website, you can start the auction before the event to draw more bidders. Those that are too busy during the event weekend can bid before. This spreads your auction to more people and can help you generate more revenue.

Step 3: Split Responsibilities

It is important to delegate tasks for the smoothest operation. Assigning duties will help ensure that everything gets done and no one feels overwhelmed. During each meeting before the event, you can go over the progress made so far and what still needs to be completed to be ready for a successful auction.

Step 4: Gather Donations

Collecting donations is a tedious task, but the most important part of an online fundraising auction. Most businesses will be willing to provide something to auction off. Gift cards are great for businesses, and they get the most out of them. The gift card will earn you both money when the winner uses it at their store. If you are worried about getting donations, work together as a group to call local businesses. Every donation you receive will pump up the group and give them the confidence to bring in donations. 

Step 5: Market

Marketing is an essential tool for a successful online charity auction. Now that you have all the items, you need the bidders! There are several ways to advertise your auction. Many find the local newspaper, radio, and tv channels great ways to promote their event. In addition, social media can be a great way to advertise without spending anything! Social media can work great depending on the size of your following on the site. Another way to promote is by distributing flyers. 

Our work with Rotary Clubs has shown us that many school administrators are members of charity groups. A great way to spread the word is to ask schools to send your flyers home with the children. Their parents, grandparents, and extended family will learn about the auction and are the most likely to attend. Another way to spread the word is to ask donors if you can hang flyers at their businesses. If they already donated, they might help promote the event to get more people to bid on their donation.

Step 6: Starting the Auction

Regardless of the type of auction you hold, you'll need starting and ending times. The start of your auction can fluxuate depending on what you decide to do. If you have an in-person or radio auction, your start and end times can be on the same day. The use of the online auction software also allows you to start your auction whenever you want. Auctions can begin days or weeks before the actual event to give more time to get more bids. Make sure to market these times to your audience to get the most traffic when the auction begins.

Step 7: Keeping Interest

The work doesn’t end until the auction is over! Don't stop promoting your auction during the event, especially if you start the bidding early. You want to keep everyone online and active. People might jump on right away, but slowly lose interest. You want to retain interest throughout the event to get more revenue. A successful charity auction retains interest from start to finish!

Step 8: Ending the Auction

End the auction at whatever time you want. Some auction charity events end all at once and some scatter their end times. Scattered end times have many benefits. They reduce the load on the server and increase interaction with each segment by creating a deadline that hurries people into bidding now. Each segment will get a bid boost by having some time to be seen. If all the items end together, there will often be many items not bid on because people didn't have the time to look through everything. You want to get bids on all the auction items, even if some are nowhere near the retail value. All the money is profit since local businesses donated the items.

Step 9: Delivering the Goods

The final step of the event is to collect the money and deliver the items to the winners. If you are shipping, you will need to make sure you get payments online after they win. Many Auction Fundraising Software will provide payment methods through the software, but shipping will need to be handled by your group. If you are having your winners pick up at a location, make sure you pick a time and date for that as well. Include this information in any winning email and list it on your site. Make this stand out so that everyone knows when and where to pick it up. If you accept payment on pickup, you need to ensure everyone knows where to go.

Step 10: Analyze

Step 10 is simple. Analyze your results and note where you can improve for next year! More than likely, your first auction won’t be as profitable as you wanted it to be. Even if you made more than you hoped, there is always room for improvement. The great thing is that now people know about your event. The only thing left to do is improve that audience next year, get bigger and better donations, and increase your revenue. Take notes of items that didn’t do as well and ones that did the best. Try to get more items similar to the bestsellers next year to increase interest. If you want to get donations from the same company that provided a less successful item, maybe try suggesting something else to donate when you reach out again. They want their item to go over well, so they will be willing to offer a different donation.

Want to start an online charity auction? CTi Auctions is the perfect fit for you! Our software was designed for non-profits to earn more money, support, and awareness for their organization. It is easy to use, fully customizable and offers plenty of tools to reach your goals year after year. Contact us today!

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