FundraisingSmart Automation

Make Your Nonprofit Auction a Success

6 Mins read

Auctions are everywhere now, but nonprofit auction success might not be as easy as you think. From the type of auction to the production, auctions have a lot of options that can make a big impact. 

Let’s take a closer look at auctions and the main types of auctions. 

  1. A Closer Look at Auctions
  2. Types of Auctions
  3. Auctions with Giveffect
  4. Virtual Food Drive and Auction
  5. Why it Matters
A Closer Look at Auctions

For a quick review, an auction for a nonprofit is an event where you sell items or experiences as a fundraiser. The type of auction can make a difference in how the sale is made and how the winning bids are handled, which impacts your nonprofit auction success.  

And generally, the sales are done via bids by the public, with the highest bidder winning the item. 

Any nonprofit can host an auction, but it can be a lot of work and there are different ways you can host auctions to reach different audiences. Determining your goals and audience will help you understand what type of auction you need to hold. 

Types of Auctions

Classic Silent Auction: The classic nonprofit auction often takes place at an event, like a gala. A number of items will be on display on tables during the event. The bidding is traditionally held with a bid sheet placed by each item where event attendees can see the bids on the paper and make their own bid by adding it to the sheet. The winner is simply the highest bidder on the bid sheet. And an attendant is responsible for letting the winning bidder know and setting up the payment process and item transfer. 

Bidding is restricted to only event attendees, but the silent auction is one of the easier to maintain and track events. 

Classic Live Auction: These tend to be less common and reserved for auctions with higher-price items. They can be held during an event, or as a standalone event on their own if the items are impressive enough to draw a sufficient crowd. The items are often on display so bidders can see them before the auction begins. The bids are placed during a live event where an auctioneer goes through each item and collects bids on each item. And again, an attendant is responsible for keeping track of the winning bidders, the payment process, and item transfer. 

Bidding is restricted to only event attendees, but the live auction environment can lead to higher bids. 

A classic live auction can also be held as an entertainment event if you have a great personality to host the event and an audience that particularly enjoys the live auction experience. 

Classic Online Auction: eBay is a classic example of an online auction where people from anywhere can place bids on items and the highest bidder is the winner. But for a nonprofit classic online auction event, you will need your own webpage and a page structure that can accommodate items, bids, and a process to gather bidder information and see who is winning the auction. 

Hybrid Auction: The hybrid auction type is a very popular type for nonprofits that allows them to host an in-person auction event, but also track the progress online, and also allow bids online. Those at the event and those online can make bids from any device and when the time period ends, then the highest bidder wins. 

This type of auction will also require a webpage and the ability to take bids from a variety of devices. An app can also make the process easier. And you will need a process to track winners and maintain their information and make plans to distribute the winning items. 

The advantage to this type of auction is that you can have a great in-person bidding experience, but also access to bidders from around the world. That maximizes your chances for nonprofit auction success. But you do have to have the technology to set it up. 

And of course, you can have some mixed versions of these auctions, where some higher-demand items are sold via a live auction, and lower-demand items are sold via a silent auction. And that could also include online bidding for any or all items. 

Auctions with Giveffect

Giveffect can make online auctions easy for anyone, no matter what type of auction you want to create. Making your own auction webpage is easy, and you can customize it and explain exactly what your fundraiser is focused on and the impact.

You can enter the items that you have up for bid using Giveffect’s friendly interface and it has a variety of settings, including options like buy-it-now and reserve pricing. And even silent auctions are an option! 

For example, you want an auction to be part of your live event broadcast. Perhaps it’s a gala. A Giveffect scoreboard will show who the leading bidder is for each item, in real-time. People can also place bids on their mobile devices using text messages to bid. All of the auction functionality is built into the system. 

The entire auction can be managed in one place, from attendees to items, to the full bidding process. And all of the information that is gathered, like the registration of the bidders, is stored automatically in the Giveffect CRM, allowing anyone in the system to review the auction data later. If needed, it can be further cross-referenced with any other trackable data points, such as other event attendance, donations, or volunteering the individual has done.

Beyond data aggregation, Giveffect even automates bidding notifications, bid extensions, winner confirmation, payout fulfillment, a thank you letter, and tax receipts

You can also host branded auction pages or third-party auctions. 

Let’s look at an example of nonprofit auction success with Giveffect. 

Virtual Food Drive and Auction

The Alzheimer’s Disease Association of Kern County is currently hosting a Virtual Food Drive and Auction. The page allows the nonprofit to share their story and impact, along with the details of the auction. It even tracks the current status of the auction and has an option for donations as well. For example, this auction/event has raised over $28,000 so far, and over 5,672 cans of food. And there are 190 days left on the auction. 

Lower on the page you can see the items up for auction, including a brief overview, the current high bid, and the ability to favorite an item. Bidders can click on the item to view more details and learn how you can place a bid via online or text message. Bidders can event sort or search your items, which is helpful in larger auctions. 

And to the right of the bidding items, you can also see a breakdown of the exact impact of gfits. For example here, a gift of $35 provides 8-10 households with canned beans, rice, noodles, and more. While a gift of $75 provides two weeks of groceries for a family in need. 

And you can actually click on those amounts and donate in addition to, or completely separate from, the auction event. So even if someone doesn’t see an item they are interested in bidding on, they can see directly how their donation can make an impact. 

The page is easy to build and easy for bidders to navigate. And the winners are automatically tracked inside an internal page of the Giveffect system for the nonprofit. Once the auction ends, the system automatically sends the winning bidders an email, and an attendant can view all the winner’s information to arrange for delivery or pickup of the winning item. 

Another advantage to Giveffect is that all bidders are instantly included in your CRM, and their actions are also listed, so you can see all those who participated in this event, and share future events with them, including future auctions. This allows you to create targeted marketing campaigns focused on groups with very particular interests. 

 Why It Matters

With Giveffect taking care of a lot of the busy work of creating an auction, this allows you to dedicate your time to promoting the auction and obtaining the best items for nonprofit auction success. 

And when someone registers for your auction in Giveffect, their information will be automatically added to the CRM. So now you can create campaigns to build a new relationships with new contacts. Or a campaign to re-engage with contacts who attend an auction and haven’t been active lately otherwise. 

Online nonprofit auctions are a great way to reach out and expand your contact list with individuals who may not attend other awareness events. Giveffect can give you the tools to make that outreach as varied as possible, with the least amount of busy work. Let us answer your questions and show you how in a demo:

Giveffect demo