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Why Nonprofits Consider Holding Charity Auctions – Online Events?

Why Nonprofits Consider Holding Charity Auctions – Online Events?

Posted on March 28, 2019
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A traditional charity auction is one where people bid for goods or services. The product or service is sold to the highest bidder and the proceeds from the auction are given to a specific cause or project. A successful charity auction has the potential for substantial fundraising.

Any nonprofits can host an online fundraising charity auction for health, foods, education, disaster victims, medical support, and more.

Reasons for nonprofit holding a charity auction?

Charity auctions help in fundraising

The primary objective of a charity auction is to raise funds. Get the fundraising ideas for nonprofit to get more donors for auctions and programs. And a carefully planned and well-executed charity auction helps the nonprofit generate funds for causes.

Strengthen Bond between donor and fundraiser

Many a time a donor is unsure about how his donation is going to be used. A charity auction offers a platform for donors and fundraisers to connect and bond. This raises the confidence level of the donor in the nonprofit organization he is donating to. This may encourage the donor to be associated with the nonprofit in future events as well.

Charity auctions inspire others

When a charity auction is being held, besides the donors there are others also in the room who might be spectators. But the entire “feel” of the hall is such that it inspires those with a similar financial capacity to donate.

Also Read: Online Fundraising Websites To Raise Money

Share your vision

A nonprofit may have a benevolent vision but it may not be clear to the donors. However, a charity auction offers the nonprofit a platform for sharing its vision with its donors. It is an opportunity for the nonprofit to highlight the causes they are associated with.

Saves time and effort

It also helps the fundraiser save a lot of time as they do not have to look for individual donations but can raise a substantial sum in one event.

Charity Auctions are popular among bidders:

  • They are fun events.
  • Bidders have an opportunity to donate to a worthy cause while purchasing a product/service for themselves.
  • Charity auctions offer an opportunity for donors to get a better understanding of the nonprofit they are donating to.


As seen above, charity auctions are beneficial for both the fundraisers and bidders. However, for a charity auction to be successful, careful planning is required.

How to plan a charity auction?

Determine the number of funds you expect to raise with the auction

When planning an auction, you should have a set target and plan your activities to meet those targets.

Estimate your budget

A charity auction will need investment from your nonprofit for organizing a venue, food, and drinks, decorations, etc. A careful estimation of all expenses will need to be done for various aspects of the auction. You will need to allocate a certain sum for all the activities associated with the auction.

Also Read: 6 Keeps to Keep Donors Engaged in Economically Uncertain Times

Choose the type of charity auction

There are three popular types of charity auctions. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of the various types and ascertain which one is best suited for your nonprofit.

The 3 Types of Online Auctions:

Live Auction:

In this case, there is a professional auctioneer at the helm, and bidders call out their bids for a product or service, and the highest bidder wins. These events are fun and full of action and engage the participants completely. In a live charity auction, there is excitement motivating the bidders to bid high. On the flip side, in a live auction, the participants are seated on specific seats so casual interaction becomes difficult.

Silent Auction:

People participating in the auction write down their bids on sheets of paper placed next to the product available for the auction. They have the option to revise their bid if they desire. At an appointed time the bids are closed and the winners of the bid announced. Bidders have the option to bid using their mobile phones as well. A silent auction is not a structured type of auction and has a casual setting encouraging interaction of the donors with the personnel, volunteers, etc. of the nonprofit. However, its drawback is that since it is conducted informally by an emcee it becomes difficult to engage the participants continuously.

Online Auction:

The nonprofit will need to set up an online auction for nonprofits using the auction platform. The product for which bids are being invited is displayed on the site in the form of images, photographs, etc. Its description, features, etc. are explained. Bidders are required to register on the site, enter their credit card details to place the bid within the specified period. The benefits of holding online charity auctions are that they are less expensive to organize and have a broader reach. However, they also suffer from the drawback that there is a lack of personal interaction between the participants and the organizers.

Most nonprofits opt for a combination of auctions to get the best fundraising. Usually, a silent auction is used in combination with a live or online auction.

How to do an Online Auction?

Follow the steps to create your first online auction for fundraising:

  1. Select a vendor to which items will be auctioned to raise funds
  2. Solicit items from local tradesmen, volunteers, and so forth.
  3. Take the picture of items and put on the website
  4. Check with donors or retailers to decide the price of the donated items to set the bidding amount.
  5. Consider setting a 30-50% bidding price of each item’s original or market value. Based on the bidding value of the item.
  6. Add fixed auto-increment bidding amount based on the market value of items.
  7. Promote your online fundraising auctions to let all the people know about online auctions. Promote online auctions through social media channels, newsletters, and websites to encourage bidders to take part in auctions.
  8. Hold the auction for a week or month to give enough time for bidders to participate in the auction.
  9. Make sure to arrange the timely delivery of items to the winner of the auction. Nonprofits can engage their volunteers to help in delivering the item.

Set up a Committee

You will need to set up a committee with personnel from your organization, volunteers from the local community, etc.

You can assign various tasks to be completed to specific groups such as:

    • Event planning
    • Procurement of auction items
    • Registration, check-out, item running, etc.


Fix a date for the Charity auction and book a venue

You will need a venue for organizing your auction. It is beneficial to fix a date well in advance so that you have a choice of venues.

Select an auctioneer/EMCEE

Depending on the type of charity auction you have opted for you will require someone to conduct it. A live auction will need an auctioneer. A fast-talking, lively auctioneer can make your auction lively motivating active better participation and higher donations.

A silent auction will not require an auctioneer but an emcee to facilitate the auction.

Corporate Sponsorship

Try to get corporate sponsorship for your charity auction. Corporates enjoy the media coverage they get by sponsoring philanthropic activities. Choose those corporates whose vision is aligned to yours. Also, you need to ensure that there is enough in it for the corporate to gain from your charity auction.

Corporate sponsorship may be in one or more of the following forms:

      • Providing you products to be auctioned
      • Offering cash donations
      • Offering services of volunteers

Even if you have been unsuccessful in getting sponsorship from corporate of your choice, you can still invite their executives for the auction to build a relationship with them.

Procurement of donated items for auction

Usually, nonprofits ask local companies for donations. Any product can be offered on auction. However, it is recommended to have unique products on auction as these invite high bids. You could even offer a weekend getaway or dance lessons on auction!

Auctions can also be theme-based, where the products offered could be according to the theme of art/technology, etc.

Make a list of attendees

The number of attendees will depend on the size of your venue. Therefore choose your attendees carefully. They should be people who would be interested in the products on offer and have the ability to bid high. It is a good idea to invite those people who have close ties with your nonprofit.

Promote your charity auction

You will need to promote your event across various channels such as:

      • Direct Mail
      • Email
      • Advertisement
      • Personal calls
      • Social Media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.


A word of Thanks


Don’t forget to thank all those who are involved with the auction in some way or the other. This includes attendees, donors, volunteers, corporate sponsors, etc.

A well planned and executed charity auction will raise substantial funds for the nonprofit. Although these are the basic steps for planning a charity auction, it is recommended that the nonprofit keeps itself updated with the expectations of the donors because, in the field of philanthropy, the donors are continuously evolving.

Some trends to be borne in mind while planning a charity auction is:

Mobile First

We are living in an era when people seek everything on their fingertips. Hence, it is essential to ensure that you facilitate bidding using mobiles. This will enable them to bid while attending the event. The bidders can also get information about the product they are bidding for on the mobile and details about the nonprofit.

Social Media

Know what charities can do in the era of social media.Promoting the auction on social media is the need of the hour. Promoting the event using relevant and fresh content on channels such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. helps you have a reach beyond geographical boundaries.

Channels such as Facebook not only help in posting about the auction but also have the potential to entice sponsors. It can also be used as a means to attract the attention of volunteers if required.

Twitter, on the other hand, offers individuals participating in charity auctions a platform to connect with them in various ways. For instance, the celebrity might re-tweet for the individual or follow them, etc.

LinkedIn is another powerful platform that can be leveraged to benefit a charity auction. Your employees can promote the auction on their networks increasing its exposure manifold. It serves as a path to connect you to volunteers and sponsors.

Think out of the box

People who frequently attend charity auctions are well-aware of the sequence of events and may not exactly be excited at the prospect of attending another one. It is a good idea to put on your thinking caps and think of innovative variations in traditional charity auctions to make it interesting for the attendees.


Statistics indicate a rising trend toward philanthropy. 2018 recorded a growth of 4.1% in overall fundraising. Also, there has been a surge in the number of people actively participating in fundraising events. This participation is in the form of donations or volunteering for the event or both. A nonprofit can consider planning a charity auction to generate funds for a cause.

If you are looking to connect with a genuine nonprofit, iConnectX offers you a platform for that. iConnectX is a social platform that enables professionals to connect with executives for a fee that is donated to a nonprofit. These nonprofits organize various charity events that you can be a part of!