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20 Ways to Make Your Auction More Effective

Don't Give Up - Get Smarter


Gavel used in auctions
Getty Images

When cMarket, which runs BiddingForGood.com, an online auction service for nonprofits, did a survey in 2008 of auction managers around the country, it found that the auction business had taken a turn for the worse due to the economic downturn.

cMarket went a step further and asked those auction managers what they would do differently the following year to make their auctions more productive even if the economy was still in the doldrums.

Respondents had a variety of thoughts about what they will do differently next year. Over 60% said they would start the process of getting items earlier. Greater use of online was cited by 39% of respondents. Thirty one percent said they would get more high priced items while 19% said they would get additional lower priced items to appeal to more people.

Here are 20 of the actions the managers came up with:

  1. Get more information out to the attendees early.
  2. Actively seek more high-end silent auction items from our donors, both private and commercial.
  3. Get more items in the categories that sold best.
  4. Offer less items so that the bidding is more competitive but increase items in the most popular categories, such as dining gift cards and home items.
  5. Get more unique items and tap into population for vacation packages, special Hollywood items and the popular items like sports and entertainment.
  6. Drive more people to the auction, offering incentives for refer friends and those who place bids.
  7. Reduce ticket price to get more attendees. Add a concert to bring in attendees.
  8. Consider what works well as graduation and Father's Day gifts, or holiday gifts depending on timing of auction - items that bid high seemed to be purchased as gifts.
  9. We will have fewer items in the silent auction and we will have more items up earlier on our on-line auction and may lower the starting bid.
  10. Will change the timing of the close of our silent auction. It ran too late and made check out difficult. People just do not want to wait!
  11. Use e-mail promotions more aggressively.
  12. Will advertise the on-line auction more and slowly close out the silent auction on the night of the live auction.
  13. Not having a live event, and instead hosting a party and asking folks to leave a check at the door, combined with a stepped-up online event.
  14. Shorten the length of time the auction runs, and do more, smaller auctions.
  15. Spread the event out over the year, with more school / parent items at beginning of year in a silent / online auction and a small number of high ticket items in a live gala at year end.
  16. Change some closing times and the event times leaving more time for bidding.
  17. Promote a picture with all items.
  18. Eliminate Silent Auction
  19. Seek local advertising for newsletters and catalogs.
  20. Decrease amount of live television used and focus on publicity.
  1. About.com
  2. Industry
  3. Nonprofit Charitable Orgs
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  5. Fundraising Events
  6. Fundraising Auctions
  7. 20 Ways to Make Your Nonprofit Auction More Effective

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