Live Auctions Can Help Your Nonprofit Reach Its Fundraising Goals—Faster!
It’s no surprise: for nonprofits to survive in the current climate, these organizations are required to be innovative and think outside of the box for fresh fundraising ideas. Hosting fundraising events is a great way for nonprofits to not only engage their constituents, but also increase their revenue stream as well. Events are beneficial because there is face-to-face communication and bonding between nonprofit and supporter, and the nonprofit is engaging with their supporters through a fun and exciting way.
Events create a new dynamic where supporters feel a part of the nonprofit and its mission, and both nonprofit and supporter work in a collaborative way to raise funds and awareness for the nonprofit’s cause.
One event strategy that your nonprofit may be missing out on is hosting an event with a live auction. Live auctions have the potential to bring in huge dollars for your organization. So if your nonprofit is already hosting events, it may be time to look toward live auctions to bring in more dollars.
Why Should Your Nonprofit Host a Live Auction?
When done properly, hosting a fun fundraising event with a live auction can bring in huge dollars for your nonprofit. Live auctions can offer items that your supporters actually want to bid on, which can bring in those high net-worth donors.
“You want to attract these high net-worth donors at your event and then be able to identify them once they’re there. Sometimes people need a little motivation to spend that kind of money,” Ian Lauth, Head of Marketing at Winspire, said in an interview with NonProfit PRO.
In order to attract these high net-worth donors, nonprofits need to provide incentives to get them to the event. Lauth recommends canvassing the community for business leaders, entrepreneurs, civic leaders, c-suite executives, business owners, etc. to come out to the event and bring their constituents and friends because they have an affinity for your nonprofit’s mission. And, more importantly, nonprofits need to get these people excited for the event.
“When you have people spending thousands of dollars on one evening for a charity package, those are exactly the people you want to follow up with after the event to try to roll them into your cause and get them to become recurring donors—not just at these big events, but you want to keep building that relationship over time,” Lauth said.
Where Will You Get Items for Live Auctions?
When your nonprofit plans its live auction event, the first question will be, “Where will I find items for the auction?”
Big selling ticket items are ones that give your audience an experience—travel packages, live shows, sporting events, dining out, etc.—and the best part is that you can get these experiences donated to your live auction. To find these donations, look around your community for corporate partners because those companies will have a bigger interest in your nonprofit’s mission and cause, and they will be willing to donate an experience to your live auction.
“As long as you are offering items that are keyed into your audience’s interests, they’re going to interested in bidding on them,” Lauth said.
But sometimes it’s easier said than done. Oftentimes, nonprofits can obtain those big-ticket items, but sometimes they aren’t able to, which is where consignment comes in. Consignment offers nonprofits the ability to partner with for-profit companies that specialize in particular experience packages at no risk, allowing the nonprofit to only pay for what it sells at the auction.
“You get to spend your time engaging with your donors, promoting the package, and watching them sell for incredible amount of money at the event. We've seen packages that cost the nonprofit $3,000 go for three or four times that amount,” Lauth said.
Take-Home Tips for Live Auctions
- Have a procurement plan. Get your team together before going out and asking for donations.
- Engage your audience. Find out what they’re interested in. You can send out surveys, and you’ll eventually see patterns and similarities between answers.
- Focus on promotion. Promotion is such an important part of a successful event. Make sure people know about what’s going to happen at the night of the event. You can do it through email. You can do it through invitations. You can do it through imagery and text about what’s going to be at the live auction.
To learn more about live auctions, visit Winspire.
Nhu Te is senior content manager at Fundraise Up, the AI-powered online donation platform for enterprise nonprofits. In her work, she focuses on helping nonprofits create more impact through personalized donor relations, digital fundraising and thoughtful use of technology.