Free Online Auction Sites For Nonprofits – In this post, we’ll discuss how to choose an online auction site for your nonprofit and summarize solutions from major auction software companies.
When choosing auction software, your most important task is to eliminate any auction software that has “deal breakers.” Below are some questions to help you get started.
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TravelPledge Auctions is the perfect app for your online fundraising or golf auction. Best of all, it’s free!
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Maybe you’re running a simple online auction and need a simple solution. Or maybe you have a private gala event with a silent and live auction and need a lot of options.
Consider which of the following features you need for your event (in addition to bidding and payment features), and eliminate any solution that doesn’t have what you need:
Often the trade-off for more features is complexity. Additional configuration is not only time-consuming, but can also lead to errors such as closing the application at the wrong time.
Evaluate your organization’s technical expertise and bandwidth to determine if feature-rich yet complex auction software is right for your event.
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Note that many auction software companies offer an event consultant to help organize your auction for an additional fee.
Also review the demo version of the software from the applicant’s point of view to ensure that registration is easy and that there is no program to download.
Pro tip: Some auction software vendors ask winning bidders to leave an optional tip to the software vendor at checkout, but otherwise the software is free to your nonprofit. The Tip model is great for your profit.
Auctions that expect to raise more than $100,000 in winning bids are likely to favor a pricing structure with more fixed costs, such as a basic license fee, but lower or no payment processing fees.
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*In almost all cases, additional fees are charged by the payment processor, such as Stripe or PayPal. Fees are usually between 2.5% and 3.5%. The amount varies depending on your auction software’s agreement with the processor and whether your auction software specifies a fee.
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“Let’s stop waiting and stop the online silent auction!” This was announced at the medical association’s staff meeting in July by Development Director Letizia.
His office was full of silent auction prizes and the 2020 budget was full of holes. He knew he had to do something.
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COVID-19 forced him to cancel the association’s spring fundraiser. At first, Letizia thought she would be able to resume the event at the end of the summer, but things didn’t go that way. He did not know when a live event would be possible, and at the same time faced a significant revenue shortfall.
He had seen other organizations successfully run virtual silent auctions, so he knew they could raise money. What he didn’t know was how to raise funds on his own through an online auction.
Many nonprofits find themselves in the same situation. Live events aren’t considered yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t raise money. Online auctions are a great way to generate revenue, build community, and keep nonprofits relevant in 2020.
He perfected his ordering system and was an expert at auctioning items during the live events program.
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He used the same patterns year after year, and it basically came down to a science.
But in the era of COVID-19, fundraising has changed. Instead of focusing on her usual tactics, Letizia had to find a fundraising option that would allow her to raise the same amount.
He still needs items for auction, but instead of a live demo, he’ll use photos and text descriptions to attract bidders.
But to his delight, he discovered that many of the tedious parts of running an auction are covered by software;
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But there are benefits to going online even if you have the opportunity to host an in-person event, including:
A major disadvantage of virtual fundraisers is that it can be difficult to match the excitement and interaction built into live events.
So, to generate enthusiasm, you need to be very deliberate about your promotion and engagement strategy. It’s not impossible, just something you need to keep in mind when you decide to run.
Letizia already had her prizes, so once she chose a contest platform, she was ready to start taking pictures and adding descriptions of her items.
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If you’re planning an online auction for your nonprofit from scratch, you’ll need to consider whether you’ll be running your auction as a stand-alone event or as part of a larger virtual fundraiser. Both approaches have merit. Maybe you’re more comfortable just hosting an auction, or it’s easier to get excited about something that feels more like an event.
Check out Sharp Again Naturally’s online memory drive for inspiration. They are combining a 45-minute virtual event with their silent auction. Participants are invited to learn about their work, hear success stories, watch yoga and cooking demonstrations,
To get the most out of your online auction, you need to promote it on your channels. Letitia created.
Looking for inspiration? Here’s how Colorado River Headwaters Trout Unlimited explains and advertises its auction on its home page.
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Whether your nonprofit’s online auction is part of a larger virtual event or spans several days, you need to communicate with your supporters.
When you host a virtual event, your host can generate excitement and interest just as much as in person. They can show prize slides and encourage bidding.
Without an accompanying event, you’ll need to post updates on social media and send out reminder emails to apply. Your event software can include text or email notifications to bidders to let them know when they’ve outbid, another great way to keep them engaged in the auction.
After the virtual auction is over, it’s time to announce the winners and take the prizes to their new homes. Make sure your gift delivery or pickup instructions are clear so no one is left wondering how and when they will receive their prize.
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Letizia decided to offer contactless pickup to local residents and send parcels to winners too far away for this option.
You can also share all the winners publicly, like the Peterson Dumesnil House did, so you’ll have fewer questions about whether bidders won or not (and encourage them to bid more next time).
Letitia was confident in her plan and planned a virtual silent auction for her non-profit organization. He followed these best practices while working on it.
When you post an auction, take the opportunity to explain your policy. Is there a necessary increase for the bid? How will the awards be presented? Do winners have to pay shipping or handling? Lay it all out and share with the participants.
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Start with about 20 auction items. You can add more as you become familiar with the software. However, you don’t want to overwhelm bidders with endless choices.
Don’t start opening bids too high. Instead, aim for around 35% of market value – low enough to be tempting but with plenty of room for an offer.
In an online auction, photos are your showcase. Make sure they are clean and well lit. Include more than one type of product and try to give bidders as complete a picture as possible.
Would your donors prefer cash? Make it very easy for them. Most good auction programs will have a donation option to offer to bidders.
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Unlike an in-person event, you can run your online auction over several days. This can give more people a chance to bid and a longer period to increase bids.
If you are thinking of running an online auction without a specialized software platform, stop there.
With payment processing, bid tracking, and donor management, online auctions are simply too complicated for a DIY solution.
Bidding Owl offers custom auction sites, text and email alerts for bidders, and lots of fundraising education and support.
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Known for its ease of setup, Charity Auctions Today offers six features (bidder management, raise paddles, mobile bidding, online auction, cash donations, event tickets), but you can choose only what you need.
GiveSmart has standard mobile bidding features including text notifications. Donors of auction items can also submit their items directly to the system, which automatically generates bid sheets.
She saw submissions from donors who were regulars at her annual spring event, as well as donors who had never attended before. He even had a few country applications.
When longtime donor Harriet came to pick up her items, Letitia asked her how she enjoyed the auction. “I think it was great, but I really didn’t want to spend that much on one item,” Harriet admitted. “Every time I thought I was done, I got a message that I was being offered more and I just couldn’t afford it. I should have won.”
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The results were so good that Letizia is considering holding the online auction again next year.
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