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How To Raise More Money for Nonprofits through Online Auction

How To Raise More Money for Nonprofits through Online Auction

Posted on November 4, 2021
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Auctions have been a popular means of fundraising for nonprofits for years. However, the pandemic has changed the direction of auctions from physical events to virtual events. In other words in 2020 we have seen several nonprofits hosting online auctions successfully.

How Online Auction for a Nonprofit Works?

The concept of an online auction is the same as a physical one. In a physical auction, the participants meet at a venue and bid for products/services on auction. The highest bidder wins the auction and gets the product/service. In a physical auction, the bids are announced loud and clear so that everyone knows what the bid is and can bid higher.

Sometimes bids are not announced, bidders can send their bids privately through mobile text messages or written on paper.

In an online auction, the articles on auction and the starting bid is announced by the nonprofit on various channels. Bidders can send in their bids anonymously to the host of the auction. The highest bid and the winner is announced online. Some nonprofits organize virtual events to declare the winner of the auction.

So, if you are wondering if you should host an online auction or stick to the physical version, it would be beneficial to look at the pros and cons of hosting an online auction.

Online Auction: Pros and Cons


Wider Reach

Online auctions can reach an audience across global boundaries. Bidders from across the globe can participate in the auction by sending in their bids. This helps the nonprofit increase its visibility as well. It is beneficial for donors because they can participate in auctions associated with charities that they would like to support irrespective of their physical location.


Bidders can send in their bids anonymously if they prefer to do so. It is easier to maintain anonymity in online auctions than in physical ones.

Longer Duration

Physical auctions are organized for a limited duration. However, the duration of an online auction can be much longer. The nonprofit can decide on the time period for which the auction is held.


Online auctions are more convenient because bids can be sent from anywhere and at any time. Bidders can easily send their bids even if they are in different time zones. Besides, bids can be sent through mobiles making it easier to send bids when the bidder is on the go. Bidders do not need to travel anywhere, they can make their bids from the comfort of their homes.


Online auctions are less expensive to host when compared with physical auctions because several expenses are eliminated. For instance, cost of the venue, catering, etc. The only major expense for hosting an online auction is that the online auction platform. However, it is a one-time investment and it proves lower than hosting a physical event in the long run.

Better Tracking

An online event platform facilitates data analysis by providing detailed data such as number of people who registered, how many times an item was clicked, and more. This data provides valuable insights to enhance the user experience in future events.


Lacks the Excitement

Online auctions do not have the thrill and excitement that attendees in a physical event experience. When there are several bidders in a hall and they are bidding, the fervor and the excitement builds up. This is totally missing in an online event.

Pictures Might be Misleading

In a virtual auction, bidders don’t get an opportunity to physically see the item they are bidding for. Bids are made based on the picture of the product. Pictures might be misleading and the real product might be quite different from what it appeared in the pictures.

Bids are Higher

Since online auctions have more participants compared to the physical auction, a bidder has to compete with a much larger group. Hence, he will need to quote very high to ensure that he does not get outbid.

Vulnerable to Cyber Attacks

Cybercrime is quite rampant on different platforms on the internet. An online auction could make the bidder more vulnerable to a cyber attack.

Delivery will take Longer

In a physical auction, the product is given to the highest bidder immediately after the auction. However, in an online auction, the product has to be sent to the winner and this might take longer.

If you are considering running an online auction and wondering “How to Run a Virtual Auction?” here’s how:

The roadmap for planning an online auction includes:

  • Procuring the item.
  • Establishing the dates and timelines for the auction.
  • Defining the starting bid for the auction.
  • Scheduling the promotional activities for the auction.
  • Marketing the online auction through email marketing, social media marketing, etc.
  • Hosting the virtual auction using the online auction platform.
  • Delivering the articles to the winners.
  • Analyzing data to assess the success/failure of the auction.

Steps for Hosting a Virtual Auction:

Step 1: Establish your Fundraising Goals:

If you are planning to run a fundraising auction, you need to establish what amount you expect to generate through the auction.

Step 2: Budget your Expenses

Organizing any fundraising event has several costs associated with it. It is recommended that you allocate a specific budget for your online auction. This will help you stay on track and not go overboard with your expenses.

Step 3: What you Need?

Here’s a list of what you will need to host an online auction:

Products to be auctioned: You will need to procure items to be auctioned and establish the lowest bid for the auction. You can use the data gathered from previous auctions to decide on the type of products to procure for the auction.

Online auction platform: An online fundraising platform is software that helps host an online auction. Online fundraising platforms incite giving and help create a community of supporters of your nonprofit. Several vendors are offering a myriad of online auction platforms with different features. Make sure that you choose an online auction platform that meets the needs of your fundraiser.

Promotion tools: The online auction will need to be promoted on different channels to attract more participants. A well-planned promotion strategy can help you reach a wider audience. Certain online auction platforms facilitate marketing and promotion as well.

Will your online auction be integrated with other fundraisers? If you want to integrate other fundraisers such as peer-to-peer fundraising, etc., with your online auction, make room for it in the planning stages itself.

Step 4: Planning the Online Auction

Break the main objective of online auction into smaller goals with specific timelines. Create teams for different tasks associated with the auction. For instance, one team can look at the marketing plan, another can take care of procuring the items, etc.

Step 5: Host the Auction

Host your online auction. You can use innovative ideas like live streaming, etc., to make the auction more interesting for your audience.

Step 6: Data Analytics

One of the best features of online auction platforms is that they provide all details such as the number of bidders, their locations, and more. All these valuable insights help you plan future auctions customized to the needs of your audience.

The key ingredient for a successful online auction is the online auction platform. You must choose the platform carefully so that you procure the best one for your nonprofit. It is recommended that you create a checklist of features you require and compare the features of different platforms according to the checklist and choose the best one that meets the needs of your nonprofit. Also, make sure that the cost of the platform is within your budget.

One of the best online auction platforms is iConnectx! This platform offers features that help in end-to-end planning, organizing, and hosting of an online auction.