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FREE BONUS: Download our list of the TOP 15 Auction Item Ideas. You can save this resource as a PDF and use it for your organization’s next charity auction event. Make your next auction an overwhelming success!
Membership programs can be one of the most effective ways to increase involvement in your nonprofit organization. Plus, you’ll have a consistent pool of funds coming in to help your fund your organization’s various projects.
If you’re looking for a fresh way to boost member engagement at your organization, we’ve got a great idea for you: consider planning a charity auction!
Fun and profitable, charity auctions are a staple fundraising event for a reason, and they’re one of the most effective ways to enhance engagement in your membership program.
When you know how to plan an auction that’s perfectly tailored to your members, you’ll be amazed at the results!
We’ll walk you through the steps of planning an auction that your members will never forget by showing you exactly how to:
big hit with your members. Not only will your fundraising results prove it, but so will your member retention rates!
Before we jump into the best ways to plan your charity auction, your nonprofit needs to make sure your membership program is performing at its best. Learn about the top best practices on this topic with this strategic guide to membership programs by Double the Donation.
Now, let’s begin!
So much of successful member engagement relies on understanding your members. Planning a charity auction is no exception!
Before you get into the throes of planning your auction, you’ll need to determine which type of charity auction is the perfect fit for your members.
By “type of auction,” we’re mainly referring to the big three:
There are pros and cons to each, so let’s break them down in more detail to help you figure out which might be a good choice for you.
As their name would suggest, silent auctions consist of silent bidding on items placed throughout the venue over the course of the event.
Guests place their bids on paper bid sheets or on mobile devices with the assistance of mobile bidding software. Silent auctions don’t require an auctioneer but do usually include an emcee to act as the host of the evening.
Your membership program might benefit from a silent auction if:
Silent auctions can require extensive planning, but luckily, auction software can abate some of the hassle traditionally associated with these events. If you’re in need of mobile bidding or auction software, OneCause has you covered!
Online auctions are the most cost-effective, convenient type of auction you can host. By using online auction software, your organization can set up an online auction site where bidders all around the country can view and place bids on items.
Though not the right fit for every membership program, an online auction might be a good call if:
Not only are online auctions fantastic on their own, but they’re also flexible enough to be a perfect addition to your live or silent auction, too!
The most classic type of auction you can host, a live auction is a highly engaging, entertaining event.
An auctioneer guides the bidding by announcing items and collecting bids from the crowd of participants. To place bids, your guests will use bid paddles or other means of catching the auctioneer’s attention.
A live auction might be the best choice for your membership program if:
Live auctions require a good deal of logistical planning, but if you have the means to pull them off, they’re one of the most fun ways to raise money and get your members excited about your organization.
By selecting the right auction style (or combination thereof), you’ll be able to engage your members in a way that’s well-suited to their personalities and needs, as well as your goals and capabilities as an organization.
Unless your auction is online-only, you’ll need to find a place to hold it!
Since your members are the focus of your charity auction, you’ll want to base your venue choice on their personalities, interests, and preferences.
Not only does your venue need to be accessible to members (i.e., geographically nearby), but it also needs to be a setting that’s naturally appropriate and engaging.
Let’s look at a few examples of settings you might choose:
If you can’t determine which venue is right for your auction, why not consult your member profiles? Information on your members’ interests, hobbies, and giving behaviors can help you determine the best place to host your event.
When you have a clear picture of who your members are, you’ll be able to find a venue that fits them perfectly.
If you’ve found auction items that are valuable, interesting, and exclusive, you’ll be hard-pressed to find too many members who aren’t excited to bid on them. But, there’s a way to go a step further and truly maximize your organization’s chances of bringing in major bids all night long.
No one knows your members better than your team does (or should), so track down items that are especially appealing to your constituents.
Here are a few ways to ensure your members love the items you’ve procured:
Your members should be at the forefront of all your efforts any time you plan an event, but especially when that event is geared toward providing them with unique goods or experiences!
Bonus: Need a little auction item inspiration? Check out our exhaustive list of all the best ideas!
Auctions require a lot of planning and preparation. Your staff will likely have its hands full, so why not accept some well-needed help from a group of your members?
The great thing about membership programs is that they encourage involvement from members at multiple levels. No matter how much time your members have to dedicate to helping the auction go off without a hitch, extend the opportunity for their voice to be heard in the planning and execution of your event.
See if your members would be interested in participating in one of the following ways:
Members that are able to be active participants in planning your event are more likely to encourage other members to attend. Plus, having a more involved role will help to strengthen your members’ relationship with your organization.
It’s just like asking for your donors’ feedback; when members have a say in how the event looks and what items are auctioned off, it shows them that your nonprofit values their opinions, not just their membership fees.
By having volunteer opportunities leading up to and during your auction, you’ll be able to put together a more successful event while giving your members a chance to have an integral role in fundraising for a cause they care about.
After coordinating all the logistics and planning a successful auction, there’s only one final step to making sure your event is as engaging as can be—actually engage with your members!
On auction night, it can be easy to lose track of time amidst all of the tasks your team will be on top of. (Luckily, using event management software and delegating to your volunteers can take away some of the stress!)
That said, the most important responsibility you’ll have during your event is to interact with your guests in a meaningful, memorable way.
Here are a few of our favorite ways to make the night perfect for your auction attendees:
The best way to engage your supporters is to remind them how much your membership program values them on an individual level. Don’t be shy on auction night—interact with as many members as you can!
By following our tips, you’ll be able to plan an auction that your members will look forward to attending year after year.