Moving your silent auction out of the event hall and onto the internet transforms the volunteer-intense fundraiser into a fun online shopping experience that reaches an entirely new audience beyond your usual donor lists. It’s a way that you can promote your unique items to compassionate shoppers who welcome the ability to give twice – once by buying an item for themselves or loved one, and once again to charity.
The web shopper also enjoys nabbing some great deals, while also helping to raise money for a deserving charity. As more and more nonprofits discover how successful online fundraising can be, and develop their online auction catalogs, it is important to issue a reminder on how to be creative to differentiate one auction from the next.
So, how can your auction stand out in a sea of competitive fundraisers?
Of course, the appeal of the auction catalog itself – the items up for bid – is the biggest draw to most online consumers and can drive your fundraising success over the top! Lunch with a celebrity can bring thousands of dollars – whether that’s a star of Grey’s Anatomy or the mayor of your city. Tickets to sold out sporting events and concerts will raise funds as well as items specific to your organization that don’t require any asking for gifts, like plum parking spots or breakfast in bed from a teacher or senior person in your organization.
Coming up with fresh and creative ways to build a charitable auction is the key to enticing bidders, driving up earnings, and raising more money from your fundraiser. One way this can be done is by running “theme” or “concept” auctions.
For instance, holidays are one of the easiest times for nonprofits to go about creating a fun, attractive, and successful theme auction site with mass appeal. Select a holiday (or season) and apply related color schemes and graphics to your online auction site. Collect items that correspond to the specific holiday for your catalog and you’ve instantly created a theme auction.
A quick way your nonprofit can benefit from a captive audience already looking to purchase gifts and holiday décor at great prices is to run a winter holiday auction. An online fundraising auction gives shoppers the chance to get a great deal on desirable, one-of-a-kind, and often out-of-stock items without having to brave overcrowded shopping malls.
The additional incentive of giving twice by supporting charities has been dubbed “guilt free shopping” and reinforces the meaning of “the giving season”, or “it’s better to give than receive”, as many shoppers tend to make donations around the holidays.
Auction item ideas include:
- Holiday ornaments and tree trimmings or Menorahs to create festive décor
- Gifts for the home and holiday entertaining including wine, chocolate and gift baskets
- Popular presents such as electronics, jewelry, accessories, toys, and tools
- Travel and weekend retreats and spa packages
- Sports and memorabilia
Valentines Day Auctions
Another gift-giving holiday that poses a great opportunity to run a fun online auction is Valentines Day; giving you the chance to promote items that are “straight from the heart”, or that gives romantics who “love to give” the chance to give twice.
Auction Item Ideas include:
- Jewelry; watches, diamonds, unique pieces by national or local designers
- Chocolates and other sweets
- Teddy bears
- Requesting only red items for your online catalog
- Romantic weekend getaways; Inns and B & B stays
- Flower arrangements
Spring and Summer Auctions/Mother’s and Father’s Day/Graduation
Everyone looks forward to summer and your auction can be another highlight of the season! Declare your independence from labor-intensive fundraisers by running an online auction and collect red, white and blue themed items to celebrate July 4th. Stock your catalog with everything bidders need to have fun in the sun, barbecues, and beachside parties - sure to peak their interest and start the season off right.
Auction Item Ideas include:
- Baseball tickets
- Red, white, blue and starred items
- Sand pails filled with gifts such as sunglasses, beach balls, inflatable toys, flip flops
- BBQ grill equipment and accessories
- Sporting goods and backyard fun
Fall or Back to School Themes
Back to school means school fundraisers are back, but now you can make door-to-door donations and bake sales a thing of the past. Every fall, the latest styles, designs and accessories result in retail sales. Why not benefit from back to school shopping by offering the same items online? You can shop for, and support your students, all at the same time.
Auction Item Ideas include:
- Backpacks and school supplies
- iPods, cell phones and laptops
- Principal/Headmaster for a day
- Sporting tickets
- Clothing and accessories
Holiday and seasonal fundraising auctions are basic. But the catalog itself can be of a single theme- like travel, sports or entertainment. For a really unique auction, try some of these ideas:
- Handbag or Pocketbook Auctions – Vintage and designer pocketbooks are all the rage and you can capitalize on women’s love of accessories by collecting pocketbooks and handbags from famous designers, celebrities and vintage clothing stores.
- Celebrity Swag or Autographed Collectibles - Items donated by celebrities and athletes or those autographed by famous faces and well-known personalities are sure to be a hit with bidders.
When you are ready to run your theme auction, the most important thing to remember is to be as creative as possible. The more unique your auction is, the more bidders you will attract – resulting in greater earnings for your nonprofit and increased awareness for your cause.