Auction Items for Nonprofits: Hosting the Perfect Nonprofit Auction

Auction Items for Nonprofits: Hosting the Perfect Nonprofit Auction

Auctions are a timeless method of fundraising for charities, having been recorded as early as 500 BC. The process of putting items up for sale, having a crowd battle it out to be the highest bidder, and selling items to the highest bidder is an exciting way to generate some revenue. While auctions of the past were commonly held by an auctioneer in a physical location, the technology available today has allowed them to transition into the digital space. This transition has been nothing but good news for charities worldwide.

To host a successful auction takes plenty of planning and dedication. Arguably, the most important aspect is the list of items that you have for sale. Choosing high-quality items that bidders can compete for helps to raise the stakes and generate interest. Typically auctions draw a crowd through a specific set of coveted items. Bidders are there in the hope of getting their hands on something special. However, once you have drawn a crowd in, it becomes significantly easier to offload other, less interesting, things.

Moving back to the topic of technology, it's incredible what it has done for the auction industry. First and foremost, it behaves as a new medium for hosting auctions, allowing people to view and bid from all over the world. It's now easier than ever for individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits to host their own events, attracting participation from around the globe. While there is still lots of opportunity to attend in-person auctions, more and more are opting for the technological approach, often combining both for a hybrid experience.

The rise of technology has been followed by the inception of online auction platforms. They offer users all the tools required to host their own events, whether that be a silent auction or charity fundraiser. There are an overwhelming number of these platforms available and it can be difficult to wade through them. Options like Bonterra, Givebutter, and OneCause have the potential for hidden fees and charges, whereas all-in-one solutions like Paybee are perfect for nonprofits looking to break into the auction space.

As with everything in life, you win some and you lose some; not every auction will be a success. However, there are measures you can take to improve the likeliness of a good outcome. One such measure is the incorporation of technology into your auction experience. The perfect balance can be struck via a hybrid model, which allows people to attend a physical event while others watch on from the comfort of their own homes. Technology allows the host to increase participation and simplifies the marketing process.

Digital attendees, much like in-person attendees, will require a certain level of engagement to get the bidding started. Choosing high-quality items will help to captivate your digital bidders and get them in the mood for buying. You can attract attention to your auction by marketing your best items online. If you're willing to spend some money, social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok allow you to post adverts that are shown to users with specific interests. For example, if you have a premium baseball card for sale, you can advertise this item to individuals that have expressed an interest in trading cards and sports memorabilia.

As we progress through this article, you'll discover a comprehensive breakdown of the charity auction process. Next up is the topic of auction items and how to choose the perfect pieces for driving high bids. Following that we will progress through various topics including item procurement strategies, how to market and execute online charity auctions, post-auction plans, and frequently asked questions on the topic. Stay tuned and you'll master the world of charity auctions in no time!

Auction Item Categories for Successful Nonprofit Auctions

If it isn't obvious by now, choosing the right items can be the difference between a successful auction and a flop. In this section we'll take a look at some auction ideas that are geared toward driving bids and improving the outcome of a charity event.

Auction Category Idea #1: Collectibles and Memorabilia

Collectible Toys: You'd be surprised by the value of some of the toys you grew up with. Older toys, due to their scarcity, have become collector's items. The original Barbie, dressed in black and w cere swimsuit, from 1959 is now worth a whopping $23,000!

Collectible Comics: If you kept your old comics in a plastic sleeve and protected them from the elements, you might be in luck. Vintage comics have exploded in popularity and the list of valuable ones grows larger by the day. A copy of Action Comics #1 would make you rich, having sold at auction for $3.2 million.

Collectible Trading Cards: Baseball, football, Pokémon, there's potential for value in all of them. The Japanese version of the Pikachu Illustrator card sold at auction for half a million dollars.

Collectible Teddy Bears: Do you remember Beanie Babies? Yes, that's right, those little plush toys with the heart-shaped TY tag attached to their ears. Some of them are now worth big money! A well-know collection, dubbed 'Large Wallace and His Squad', sold after an offer of $600,000 was made.

Collectible Music: Vintage and signed items from the music industry can create an exciting auction experience. Vinyl, instruments, and even concert posters have been known to drive bidding through the roof.

Sports Memorabilia: There are so many great items that fall into this category. Diego Maradona's 'Hand of God' Argentina jersey ($9.28 million), Wayne Gretzky's final Oilers jersey ($1.45 million), Michael Jordan's rookie season shoes ($1.47 million), the list goes on. While not easy to get your hands on, sports memorabilia is sure to cause a stir.

Entertainment Memorabilia: This category encompasses anything that has appeared in movies and TV shows. The original Superman costume, worn by Christopher Reeve, from 1978 sold for $350,000 at auction.

Historical Memorabilia: Pieces with historical significance can be a winner at auction. Think huge historical moments like World War II, the French Revolution, the American Civil War, all types of stuff from these windows in time can be extremely valuable.

Political Memorabilia: Items associated with popular, and even unpopular, politicians can be an excellent auction item. An original Obama 'Hope' poster from 2008, currently up for auction, is expected to fetch a cool $500,000-$700,000.

Celebrity Memorabilia: Celebrities have the power to change the value of an item by touching it - crazy! Michael Jackson's famous jeweled glove attracted a winning bid of $190,000 at auction.

Military Memorabilia: There is some crossover between historical and military memorabilia, with the latter being more closely associated with warfare. From medals and uniforms to weapons and ration packs, you'd be surprised by the number of people obsessed with these artifacts.

Royalty Memorabilia: These auction items don't even need to come into contact with royalty, simply having a royal face adorned on them can be enough. Get this, a slice of Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding cake sold for £1,700 and the winner immediately took a bite from it!

Aviation and Space Memorabilia: Anything significant related to the aviation and space industry is sure to be a hit. A signed copy of the Apollo 13 flight plan, a Sputnik lab model, and original Wright brothers sketches have all reeled in large bids at auction.

Rare Books: Dust off your old book collection, there might be something of value in there. As with collectible comics, the list of rare, and valuable, books expands constantly - the perfect auction item.

Rare Coins: Coins have been used for centuries as a means to trade and we're still digging up these monetary relics of the past today. Old coins, as well as some newer, infrequently produced coins, are worth a big buck. In 2014 a 1794 Flowing Hair silver dollar sold at auction for over $10 million.

Auction Category Idea #2: Experiences and Services

Unique Experiences: Not all auction items have to be tangible, a unique experience is just as exciting. An example of this is the chance to have yourself immortalized as a character in a video game developer's next project.

Professional Services: Nobody likes cleaning the house or doing the laundry, it's a drag. Something as simple as the chance to have these chores taken care of for you is a wonderful auction item idea.

Event Tickets: Charity auction items in this list include sports game tickets, concert tickets, comedy show tickets, and convention tickets. An easy-to-procure item with huge potential.

Adventure Activities: A wilderness camping trip, whitewater rafting, a state park hike, horseback riding in the desert, these are some examples of adventurous activities that can be sold at auction. Adventure activities are a hidden gem because people often don't realize they want to do them until they see them up for sale.

Wellness Packages: Talk to your local spa, they'll be likely to donate a simple wellness package to your charity auction and, let me tell you, people love being pampered.

Educational Packages: Offer an opportunity for self improvement and the bidding will commence in no time. You could auction off a programming boot camp, entrepreneurial classes, or if you're feeling rather frivolous, a tuition package to an online university.

Automotive Experiences: If you've ever wanted to drive a Ferrari around a racetrack and reach speeds exceeding 100mph, you're not alone. An automotive experience is an excellent charity auction idea, ideal for thrill seekers and car enthusiasts alike.

Charitable Donation: This one is quite straightforward, have bidders compete to make a large donation to your nonprofit. It's not uncommon to make a donation but it's slightly unique to do so via charity auction.

Home Renovation: Get in touch with local construction companies and find out if one of them is generous enough to donate a home renovation project. Many families would love to have a new kitchen or redesign their bathroom, and winning this service through an auction might make it that bit more affordable.

Auction Category Idea #3: Luxury Items

Luxury Goods: Luxury goods is quite a broad category. It can embody anything from expensive hampers to premium skin care products. Think of things that are typically out of the budget of the everyday person.

Fine Wine: Wine comes in all shapes, sizes, and prices, but there is definitely something attractive about an expensive bottle of fine wine. In 2018 a vintage bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée-Conti Grand Cru, dated 1945, sold at auction for $558,000 - it was anticipated to attract bids of around $30,000!

Watches: Watches are a desirable accessory and can even reach into the realm of collector's items. Countless watches have sold for massive money at auction including the Patek Philippe Grandmaster Chime ($31 million) and the Rolex “Paul Newman” Daytona ($17.75 million).

Jewelry: Like watches, Jewelry has the potential to make a lot of money at auction. What's more is that there are tons of routes you can take such as necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and more. When Dame Elizabeth Taylor auctioned off her jewelry collection, it went for a combined $115 million.

Auction Category Idea #4: Home and Decor

Home Decor: Folks are always looking for a way to spice up the interior of their homes. Get them bidding with some home decor. Clocks, mirrors, rugs, anything that adds life to a home is a reasonable auction item in this category.

Furniture: Similar to the home decor category but with a distinct focus on furniture, items that are generally more upmarket. A look into the past shows that furniture is quite the lure. In 2004 the Badminton Cabinet, originally owned by the 3rd Duke of Beaufort, went under the hammer for an impressive $36.7 million.

Kitchenware: People love kitchenware and its one of the most commonly auctioned items. The great thing about kitchenware is that decent quality gear is available for reasonable prices, which makes it accessible to a wide range of bidders.

Fine China and Dinnerware: Another category that seems to be extremely popular is fine china and dinnerware. Items in this category can range from cheap to obscene in terms of value. Dr. Alice Cheng once submitted an 18th century imperial bowl to auction and reeled in a huge HK$198 million!

Auction Category Idea #5: Other

Gourmet Food Baskets: Here's a quick and easy idea: request food donations from your local community and compile one, or a few, gourmet food baskets. Food is always a popular item at auction and gourmet feed baskets will absolutely be a crowd favorite.

Pet-Related Items: You can guarantee that there will be plenty of pet owners among your bidders, use this to your advantage. Auction pet-related items, specifically geared toward common pets such as cats and dogs, and the bids will roll in.

Technology and Gadgets: There are so many options in this category that you'll never be lacking inspiration. Popular choices are going to be laptops, tablets, and cell phones. Make sure to auction the latest and greatest models to drive interest.

Vintage Cars: Vintage cars, and perhaps cars in general, won't be easy to get your hands on - especially as a donation. However, if by chance you end up with one, you're in luck. Examples like the 1956 Aston Martin DBR1 and the 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4*S N.A.R.T. Spider by Scaglietti sold for over $22 million each!

Firearms: From antique to modern, firearms are a valuable commodity and a popular item at auction. Those with historical significance, like George Washington's Saddle Pistols, are an even greater draw - they auctioned for $1,986,000 in 2002.

Sporting Goods: This is a great option for smaller auctions. Local sports goods retailers might be open to making a donation of some footballs, jerseys, or other related items.

Surplus Inventory: Businesses in the same community as your charity can be approached to donate surplus inventory to be sold at auction. This encompasses anything that they are unable to sell, is out of season, or is beyond their requirements. You'd be surprised by some of the awesome finds you'll make in a surplus donation!

Art Pieces: The beauty of selling art at auction is that it can range from local, inexpensive pieces to world-renowned, fine art. Whatever you can get your hands on through donations will help to drum up interest among your bidders. You might even be able to help a smaller artist get their name out there.

That concludes our list of 40 categories of items that your nonprofit can use in a charity auction to drive high bids. Some of these categories are more accessible than others but you never know what you'll get your hands on when the donations begin to flood in. If procuring donations is something you're struggling with, continue on to the next section for some advice.

Nonprofit Auction Item Procurement Strategies: How to Locate, Negotiate, and Accept Donations of Charity Auction Items

Here's the situation, you know the types of items that do well at auction but you have no idea how to procure them. The good news is that you're already a good portion of the way toward understanding how to host an exciting auction event. In the nonprofit industry the keywords that we're looking for are gift and donate, the items that you'll have up for auction should come from your supporters, whether they be individuals or businesses. Let's discuss the art of locating, negotiating, and accepting donations for the purpose of a nonprofit auction.

Donation Drives

Your local community is a goldmine of auction items but you'll have to let them know that you're seeking donors for the best results. Firstly you'll need to decide the type of item that you're expecting from donors and then you can move onto low-level marketing. Advertise your need for auction items via posters, social media, and any other channels that you can get eyes on. The following are a couple of examples to get you started:

  • Toy Donation Drive:

Children in your community will eventually outgrow their toys and this is the perfect opportunity to procure some auction items. If we look at the demographics most likely to translate to donor, it's going to be adolescents and parents. The best strategy is to target these demographics with your low-level marketing. Adolescents are likely to frequently use social media, which is the ideal place to inform them of the need for donors. Parents, on the other hand, might not spend as much time on social media and therefore should be reached out to via the local newspaper. Be sure to include the relevant details of your drive such as the type of items wanted and the address of the drop off location.

  • Other Donation Drive Ideas:

The toy drive suggestion was merely an example and the techniques involved can be applied to any type of push for donors. Another idea referenced earlier is the gourmet food basket. Use a donation drive to procure gourmet food items that can be compiled into a basket or package to be sold at auction. Second hand furniture can be a lucrative item category. Request old furniture pieces, clean them up, and sell them to the highest bidder. The important part of this process is to be creative and identify items that are reasonable to request. You wouldn't get very far operating a vintage car drive!

Local Businesses for Auction Items

Local businesses are another great source of auction items. They're often happy to provide donations in return for some positive exposure, which can be provided by your nonprofit. Partnerships between nonprofits and businesses are extremely beneficial to both parties and this is something we will explore further in this section. As with requesting donations from individuals, it's best to reach out to businesses and let them know that you're seeking donors. This way they can easily get in touch with you if they wish to support your cause.

  • Local Retailers:

Local retailers are businesses that sell goods such as clothes stores, sporting goods stores, and supermarkets. They are an excellent source of auction items, presenting an opportunity to request a surplus donation. Get in touch with them through their business email address or phone number, or if it's a family-operated retailer, they can be approached personally. Make sure to explain the type of items that you are requesting and briefly outline the purpose and cause of your auction. This information will help the business to understand your request and increase the chance of them becoming a donor.

  • Local Artists:

Local artists are always seeking opportunities to showcase their work and get their name out there. One way for a nonprofit to help them do this is to commission a piece that can go under the hammer. Be upfront about your intentions and explain whether or not you're willing to offer payment. The artist may be in a position to offer a donation, in the form of art, to further your mission.

  • Local Restaurants:

While they likely cannot offer your nonprofit a physical item, local restaurants can be a good source of experiences. In the form of a gift card they can provide a dining experience to the highest bidder.

Negotiating Item Donations

When requesting items for an auction you have to consider what your nonprofit gets out of the agreement and how the business benefits. You can increase the likelihood of business engagement by creating a mutually beneficial agreement that helps both parties to meet their goals. In this type of relationship it's simple to identify the advantages for a nonprofit because they receive items to sell to the highest bidder. But what does the business receive in return? Charities have the ability to help businesses with their social responsibilities by advertising their support and showcasing their commitment to charity.

Building Relationships with Local Businesses

Once you make a connection with a local business and they agree to become a donor, you should begin forming a long-term relationship with them. The benefits of doing so are plentiful. You'll likely be able to rely on them for future donations when requested/required and you can mutually benefit from the exposure that you can offer one another. With a solid relationship in place your nonprofit can reap the benefits of a business partnership for years to come, making the auction process easier in the long run.

Marketing a Charity Auction

Once you have built relationships with local businesses and procured a list of exciting items to be auctioned off, you're ready to begin the marketing process. Similarly to the low-level marketing described in the donation drive strategy, your goal is to draw attention to your event. The difference is that this time you'll be pushing a little bit harder - this is the main attraction after all! You're going to have to step your marketing game up a level and you'll learn how to do that in this section.

Social Media Strategies

Social media is a lucrative tool and has a lot to offer in terms of marketing, here are some ideas to get you going:

  • Achieving Virality:

When a post goes viral on social media it's seen by thousands of unique individuals and is spread organically due to the high quality content it contains. Achieving virality is not easy but there are methods that make it more achievable. Firstly you can analyze trends that are currently popular on social media. In the past we have seen trends like the Harlem Shake, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and planking spread across the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram like wildfire. Each of these trends shares two important characteristics, they are easy to recreate and entertaining. Involving your nonprofit in trends on social media is a great way to spread the word about upcoming events, such as auctions.

Trends are always accompanied by hashtags. You might see #IceBucketChallenge on an ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video or #plank on a photo of someone planking. Hashtags help social media algorithms to figure out who might be interested in viewing your content. They are an extremely important aspect of any social media post and you are unlikely to achieve virality without including some relevant hashtags when sharing content with your followers.

  • Multimedia:

TikTok is currently proving that social media users absolutely love short-form videos. Long gone are the days of text-based posts being the most effective form of social media content. You've got to mix it up for the best results and combining text with image or video is often the best route to go down. Visual posts are more engaging, contain more information, and are much more dynamic than simple text-based posts. Successful social media marketing is built on the back of captivating image and video.

  • Social Media Ads:

Social media companies like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are constantly harvesting user data, learning to understand the interests and preferences of each individual on the platform. They monetize this data via purchasable ads that can be leveraged by your nonprofit to target specific groups. You'll be able to advertise your auction and the items available to bidders to groups of users that have previously expressed an interest in related topics. If you lack marketing experience this can be an easy way to get started. The custom budget option allows for all sizes of campaigns and ensures that your organization spends only as much as it can afford.

Email Marketing

Not everyone is a social media user and it's always a good idea to market across multiple platforms to reach a wider audience. Email marketing is another angle that your nonprofit can take to spread news of its upcoming auction. Composing a captivating marketing email begins with the subject line. This is the first piece of information that the recipient will see and read. If you're unable to grab their attention through the subject line, your chances of success will drop drastically. Something like "Making a Difference Begins with YOU - [Nonprofit Name] Charity Auction this Weekend" has the ability to capture the interest of the reader, compelling them to open and read the remainder of the email.

After writing the perfect subject line you can begin with the body of the email. Now that you have the attention of the reader, it's time to feed them the information they need to participate in your event. Be sure to provide the time, the date, and the address of the auction. This is also an opportunity for you to share some of the items that will be going under the hammer. Including some of the more high-ticket pieces is the ideal method to increase anticipation.

Storytelling to Drive Bids

Marketing doesn't stop the moment the auction begins, there is still plenty to be done. Items with historical significance or intriguing backstories can be enhanced via storytelling. For example if you are auctioning a helmet that was used during World War II, it would be a nice touch to explain exactly who wore it and where in the world it had traveled. To some this information is insignificant but to others it adds extra value to the pieces you are selling. A simple item can become something much more alluring when bidders hear the story behind it.

Unique Auction Ideas

Typically an auction room is a rowdy place full of individuals vying for the purchase of a range of interesting items. Now imagine this: the room is completely silent and bidders can only express interest in increasing the price of an item by raising a paddle. Sounds weird, right? While this might seem unorthodox, the silent auction is a unique type of event that flips the expected atmosphere of an auction on its head. A silent auction also means that there is no requirement for an auctioneer, making it a cost-saving measure for many nonprofits.

Technology has truly paved the way for the silent auction to come to the fore and its often a popular event among donors. Although paddles were mentioned earlier, it was to invoke a mental image. It's more common that mobile apps are used to facilitate bidding. Platforms, like Paybee, have an integrated system for hosting silent auction events that make them accessible to all and seamless to organize. Combining a unique approach to your fundraising event with a strong marketing strategy will help you to generate a large amount of buzz surrounding your charity auction.

Hosting a Successful Auction

You're almost there! You understand the types of items that do well at auction, you've managed to procure some goods to sell, the event has been marketed successfully, and now it's time to commence bidding. This might just be the most stressful part of the process but worry not, there are strategies that you can enact to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible. We'll begin by looking into the type of platform that you decide to use and how to make sure that you pick the right one.

Choosing an Auction Platform

Fortunately there are many options to choose from when it comes to online auction platforms. Each of them has their advantages and disadvantages with some being better than others. When choosing a platform it's important to seek one that aligns with the preferences, needs, and values of your nonprofit. If you require guest management services, for example, you'll have to be sure that your chosen solutions is able to provide that feature. A quick Google search of online auction platforms should give you the information that you need and if a feature isn't mentioned always assume that it's not included.

Be wary of the fees associated with each individual online auction platform especially if you are operating on a tight budget. Some platforms like Givebutter advertise a free service but will take a portion of any funds raised through your event. Sometimes these fees aren't presented to the user in an obvious way, which can result in an unexpected dip in revenue due to a lack of awareness. An example of this is Bonterra who require an interested party to request pricing by providing personal details such as a first name, last name, email address, and phone number. If you don't complete this form you'll be unable to view the most important aspect of their pricing model, the cost.

A final consideration to make involves the capabilities of each platform - what can they do? In this case you're looking to host an auction, which means that the platform must be able to perform this function. It's advised to make a list of functionality requirements that you can compare to each fundraising solution as you conduct your research. If the idea of a silent auction sounded interesting to you then this is something you should prioritize when searching for the right online auction platform. Guest management was referenced earlier and there are many more useful features that you might want to be on the lookout for such as:

  • Secure Payment Processing: A built-in feature that allows your nonprofit to accept donations and payments via a lengthy list of secure payment options.
  • Social Media Sharing: Integrated social media functionality to help market your event.
  • Event Ticketing: A guest management feature that ensures bidders are provided tickets to access the auction.

Ensuring Smooth Operation

Once your auction is underway it's important to stay on top of proceedings to keep the event running seamlessly. The following are some things to keep in mind to ensure the smooth operation of your auction:

  • Catalog Auction Items: Before the auction begins it's vital to have cataloged each item going under the hammer. This way you'll have the photos and information required to inform your participants of each item they'll be bidding for. Well cataloged items result in fewer questions and less confusion.
  • Volunteers: If your nonprofit is able to recruit some volunteers to help with the event then it absolutely should. You'd be surprised by the positive impact of having someone there to guide guests as they enter the event. For some this might be their first auction experience and it's not always clear what is expected of you as a participant in this scenario.
  • Guest Management: We've covered this a few times already but that's because of its high significance. Managing your guests correctly will help to ensure a functional event. Look into ticketing, guest rosters, table management, and sign up questions. Without bidders an auction is nothing so be sure to treat your guests as an asset and make sure they have a positive experience.
  • Wi-Fi: Regardless of the venue that you choose it must have wi-fi. Every single online auction platform requires access to the internet to function and without it neither you or your guests will be able to get involved.
  • Check the App: Most online auction platforms are accompanied by downloadable software in the form of an app. This app is what allows the platform to perform its auction function. To avoid hiccups during the event it's an excellent idea to test the app prior to proceedings.

We've discussed plenty of important features that you should look out for when selecting an auction platform including no hidden fees, silent auction capabilities, guest management, secure payment processing, social media sharing, and event ticketing. Paybee, an all-in-one online fundraising solution, encompasses all of these features and much more! It surfaces as a highly recommended option in the online auction platform space.

Post-Auction Strategies: What Next?

You did it, you hosted a successful auction event - what next? You might think that the work ends there but there's plenty more to be done in order to get the most out of your auction. Now is the time for post-auction strategies to be put in place including follow-up and analytics.

Follow-Up Strategies

The bidding has stopped and the auction is over. Each item has a clear winner and a bid associated with its sale. The online auction platform that you chose should be able to provide the details of each winning bidder and may also offer them the opportunity to make their payment through the app. If this functionality is not included then you must follow-up with each individual and remind them of their duty to pay for their item(s). You should be extremely rigorous with this process to ensure that each item is adequately paid for and that all revenue has been taken in.

When payments begin to flow in you can respond to them with a heartfelt thank you message. This is a fantastic little strategy for making your guests and donors feel appreciated, increasing the chance of them attending future events. This can be achieved through various channels like email, social media, or you could even pen a handwritten letter for added authenticity. Whatever approach you take be sure to express a genuine thanks and remind each individual of their importance to your nonprofit.

To accompany your thank you messages you can make a social media post that extends a thank you to everyone at once. This is a perfect opportunity to include some pictures and video from the event, resulting in a multimedia piece of content. Not only will this help to make your donors feel appreciated but it will act as a piece of marketing for future auctions highlighting how exciting and fun they can be.

The final follow-up strategy to discuss is survey distribution. It's vital to understand how your guests perceived the event. You can collect relevant information by distributing surveys physically via the mail or digitally through an email. Your choice of physical or digital should be based on the demographics of your guests, with older guests receiving physical copies and younger receiving digital. Within this survey should be a list of questions that help to determine the thoughts of your supporters. Here are a few ideas of effective questions to ask:

  1. How would you rate your overall experience at [Nonprofit Name]'s charity auction? Allow individuals to rate the event out of 10 and provide space for them to explain their rating.
  2. What did you enjoy most about the charity auction?
  3. Is there anything that [Nonprofit Name] can do to make your experience better at our next charity auction?

Event Analytics

The idea behind feedback surveys is to use the opinions of your guests to refine your next auction and this is similar for event analytics. Many fundraising platforms are able to provide the user with event analytics that can be studied to identify patterns and trends. Using these patterns and trends, as well as feedback from your supporters, your nonprofit can find areas that require improvement and figure out what went well. The areas that require improvement should be reconsidered and optimized for the next auction while things that went well should be prioritized for inclusion in your next event. Over time you'll continually remove negative aspects from your auctions and master the positives, which will lead to an extremely refined version of your original event resulting in more enjoyment and engagement.


Q: How can you determine the fair market value of items donated for a charity auction?

A: Fair market value can be determined by looking at recent selling prices of the same, or similar, item(s). Using online selling platforms like eBay is a great way to procure this information. Take three (or more) of the most recent sales, combine their selling prices, and calculate an average to determine fair market value. Learn more here!

Q: What are the best practices for approaching businesses for item donations to online charity auctions?

A: When approaching a business for item donations it's important to consider your method of communication. Family-owned businesses should be approached personally and larger corporations can be contacted via their business email and phone number. Seek to form a relationship that benefits both parties for the best results.

Q: Looking forward, what are the emerging trends in charity auctions that organizations should prepare for?

A: A huge trend emerging in the charity auction space is hybrid events. Through the use of technology auctions can now be attended in-person or remotely. You should aim to operate on a hybrid basis as frequently as possible due to the accessibility it provides. Also consider unique auction ideas like silent auctions and themed auctions due to their increasing popularity.

Conclusion: The Digital Shift

Technology is a snowball rolling down a hill, constantly growing and expanding. Soon it will play a role in every aspect of human life. It's certainly made an early mark in the nonprofit industry and the shift to digital is well and truly underway. Whether you enjoy technology or not it's crucial to get on board before the ship leaves the harbor. Organizations that don't adopt this new digital way of life are certain to be left behind by those that do.

As tech progresses and the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR) continue to improve, your nonprofit should be ready to welcome these innovations with open arms. Online fundraising platforms, like Paybee, have increased what the average person is capable of in the nonprofit space exponentially. Now imagine what can be accomplished when AI and VR become mainstream!

New technology and further innovation will come and go all the time. It's important to be wary of trends and attempt to understand how these digital options can play a role in your organization. Adaptability is the keyword; it's extremely important to be open to change, especially change that helps your nonprofit to succeed and move forward.

We've explored a huge range of ideas related to the concept of a charity auction and hopefully this has been a comprehensive experience. To quickly recap, here are some important takeaways from this article:

  • Auction Items: Pretty much anything can be sold at auction but finding intriguing items is the key to success. These items can be used to create anticipation and attract bidders.
  • Item Procurement: Reach out to local businesses and establish relationships to procure items for auction. Remember to ensure that relationships are mutually beneficial for both parties.
  • Marketing: Get as many eyes on your auction as possible! Use multiple channels to advertise and clearly outline the key details of your event.
  • Post-Auction: Analyze the successes and pitfalls of each auction event that you host. Double down on successes and fix pitfalls to refine future auctions.
  • Adaptability: Always be open to exploring and adopting new technology as it arises - we are headed toward a digital future.

Now go forth and conquer the realm of auctions. Use the information you have learned here to be a success. Good luck!

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Benjamin Mcquaid

Hello! I am Benjamin, a freelance writer from the United Kingdom. I have had a passion for writing since my highschool days and love to research and produce content on any topic. For enquiries, contact me via email: benjaminmcquaid5@gmail.com.

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