Online Charity Auctions Guide & 13 Best Auction Providers

Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes are adding online charity auctions to their fundraising toolbelts. Why? Online auctions can help nonprofits raise a lot of money. After all, the chance to walk away with an amazing item while also supporting a worthy cause spurs more giving. These events can have phenomenal ROIs and make a significant impact on your mission. But successful online charity auctions have many moving parts, from directing your team to building your guest list to marketing your event.

If you want to host a stellar online charity auction, this guide will cover everything you need to know, including:

With this knowledge, you’ll be well-equipped to plan and host an online charity auction that drives revenue and impact. Let’s start by defining what exactly an online auction entails.

What Are Online Charity Auctions?

You’re probably already familiar with live charity auctions, where an auctioneer presents items and calls out amounts while guests bid by raising paddles. With an online auction, supporters go to a microsite that lists all your auction items and then place bids on the items they’re interested in, usually through their mobile devices.

Much like in-person auctions, you can have an auctioneer present these items on a video live stream to drum up excitement and facilitate bidding on an item. You can also handle your online auction similarly to a silent auction, where bidders browse and bid on items without the help of an auctioneer.

Why Take Your Charity Auction Event Online?

Since online charity auctions run similarly to in-person auctions, you may wonder why you should choose a virtual event format. Online auctions are extremely flexible, providing you with these benefits:

This image lists the reasons to host an online charity auction instead of an in-person auction, also detailed in the text below.

  • Cost savings: You won’t have to worry about certain costs associated with hosting events, such as venue rentals, catering, and decorations. This reduces overhead expenses for your nonprofit, resulting in more funds that can be used for your beneficiaries.
  • Improved accessibility: In-person auctions are usually limited by their geographic location—if a supporter doesn’t live in the area, it won’t be convenient for them to attend. An online auction isn’t limited to a specific location, allowing supporters to attend and bid on items anytime, anywhere.
  • Increased participation: Without having to worry about travel costs or time, attendees will be more likely to participate. Your event also requires a lower time commitment for busy supporters, as they can simply check in now and then on the items they’re interested in, which makes it much more feasible for them to participate.
  • Greater visibility: Aside from marketing your event to dedicated supporters, you can also invite a much wider audience to attend. Your online charity auction provides a great opportunity to connect with new donors from across the country, showing them the value of your nonprofit’s mission.
  • Eco-friendliness: In addition to all the other benefits, online charity auctions are more environmentally friendly than in-person auctions. You won’t need to worry about disposing of decorations and food waste or the power you’re consuming to ensure your event goes smoothly.

With thorough planning and support from the right providers, your nonprofit can reap these benefits and inspire greater generosity with an online charity auction.

How to Plan and Host an Online Charity Auction

Hosting an online charity auction, like any other fundraising event, can be broken down into a series of steps and best practices. After laying out your guidelines and goals, tackle the following:

This image lists the steps to hosting an online charity auction, also detailed in the text below.

  1. Procure and manage your auction items. Provide high-quality auction items by requesting in-kind donations from major donors and sponsors and by securing consignment items, such as travel packages, from vendors. As you source your items, ask yourself: What types of items would my donor base be excited about? How much are they likely to spend? Allow the answers to these questions to guide your procurement efforts.
  2. Sell tickets and manage RSVPs online. Think of registration as your supporters’ first impression of your online charity auction—you want it to go smoothly to set your event up for success. Set up an event page with a streamlined event registration form that supporters can fill out regardless of what device they’re on.
  3. Spread the word about your auction. Market your auction through the messaging channels that your audience frequents. Popular nonprofit marketing channels include event web pages, email newsletters, social media platforms, direct mail, and text messages. This may be your donors’ first online auction, so actively explain what to expect and how to join the event.
  4. Start the bidding early and build excitement. Pre-bidding allows you to jumpstart your fundraising, build excitement, and extend the life of your auction. Clearly define when pre-bidding starts and release a few key items that supporters can bid on before your auction even begins, allowing them to get a leg up on items they’re interested in.
  5. Monitor and manage the auction. During the auction, you’ll be busy monitoring everything and ensuring the event proceeds smoothly. This is where your software will come in handy, as the right solution will help you facilitate (and even encourage) bidding with mobile bidding, out-bid notifications, and gamification features.
  6. Follow-up after the event is over. When the event is over, you’ll close the bidding, collect payments, and prepare to ship items to their winners. Additionally, you should follow up by showing your gratitude toward everyone who made your event successful. This means thanking guests for attending, bidders for participating, and item donors for their generosity.

To streamline your online charity auction, choose auction software to automate the process and reduce work for your nonprofit’s team. Let’s take a look at what you should keep in mind when choosing software for your event.

How to Choose Software for Your Online Charity Auction

Dedicated auction software is essential for a successful online charity auction. With the right solution, hosting an auction will be smoother than ever before, as you’ll have access to purpose-built capabilities and automation features designed to make your life simpler.

When choosing software for your upcoming online charity auction, follow these steps:

This image lists the steps to choosing software for your online charity auction, also discussed in the text below.

  1. Set a budget. Start by requesting a budget from your nonprofit’s financial staff members. This will help you narrow down your search based on cost. Keep in mind that robust software is a long-term investment that will provide value far beyond this particular auction event.
  2. Decide must-have features. Consider what features you’re looking for in your new software solution. Aside from auction event management, you may also want to consider marketing capabilities, integrations with your nonprofit’s constituent relationship management system (CRM), and more. Establish which features are must-haves and which features would simply be nice to have. If you’re looking to upgrade from your existing software, consider the gaps in your current software that you’d like to fill. Check out the OneCause Fundraising Platform to get a sense of the full range of features available.
  3. Research top providers. With your budget and list of requirements ready, begin researching top online charity auction software providers. Check out our recommendations below and review websites such as Capterra and G2 as a jumping-off point for your research.
  4. Choose your software. Once you have a list of providers that meet your budgetary and feature requirements, request demos, ask questions, and choose the software provider that best fits your needs.

Don’t be afraid to contact providers to book free consultations. In these sessions, their tech experts will provide more information about how their software works and whether it’s a good fit for your organization. Additionally, take a look at their testimonials page and online reviews to discover how their clients feel about their services.

Top 13 Online Charity Auction Providers for Nonprofits

Choosing the right software is a highly personalized process—after all, the ideal solution for your nonprofit may not suit another nonprofit. To help you get started on your journey, we’ve created this list of top online charity auction providers to cover all your bases.

Top Auction Software Provider: OneCause

As the leading auction software provider on the market, OneCause provides a full suite of tools to plan and manage your events from beginning to end. We have 15+ years of experience helping more than 11,000 nonprofits reach their fundraising goals. Collectively, we’ve helped nonprofits raise over $6.5 billion for their causes.

The comprehensive OneCause Fundraising Platform contains a full range of tools to help your nonprofit host and manage the online charity auction of your dreams, including:

This image lists the key features that OneCause, the top online charity auction software, providers. These features are also discussed in the text below.

  • Item management. Streamline the auction item procurement process by generating solicitation letters to corporate sponsors and major donors. After an item has been successfully solicited, track the status of each item, log their locations, and bundle items into packages to ensure you stay organized before and during your auction.
  • Event registration. Allow guests to purchase tickets through your event site, ensuring guests can RSVP at their convenience. Then, guests can skip the line and check themselves into the event before arriving through contactless, express self-check-in. Once registered, guests are given a digital ticket with a QR code so event volunteers can scan it and track their attendance.
  • Attendee engagement. OneCause provides various gamification and attendee engagement tools to keep guests interested throughout your entire charity auction. With live scoreboards listing top bidders, fundraising thermometers that track progress to your goals, live chats to facilitate guest interaction, and more, you’re sure to keep your guests engaged in your mission.
  • Sponsor management. Sponsorships are a surefire way for nonprofits to drive even more revenue during fundraising events. OneCause allows you to create customizable online sponsorship packages, encourage engagement with the sponsor’s brand, and track impressions to demonstrate the ROI of the partnership for the sponsor.
  • Marketing and communications. Drive traffic to your event microsite so guests can purchase tickets, browse auction items, and set up their bidder profile. With OneCause, you can connect with supporters through custom and pre-set text messages in one seamless platform.
  • Reporting and analytics. Track key metrics that will help you determine if you met your fundraising goals, what items were most popular, who the top bidders were, how many guests attended, and more. With robust reporting and analytics features, you can make data-driven decisions to improve your future online charity auctions and fundraising events.

OneCause is built for flexibility—it simultaneously makes the auction planning and management process easier for you and gives attendees more opportunities to engage with your nonprofit’s cause. Explore the full range of OneCause auction software features and book a demo to learn more about how our solution can add value to your auctions.

Top Auction Item Providers


If you’re looking to round out your auction items with travel packages, Winspire is the provider for you. Their team of fundraising advisors and travel specialists is dedicated to bringing exciting travel opportunities to the nonprofit sector, and your auction can benefit!

Winspire offers more than 200 unique experiences, making it easy to select experiences that fit your budget and your donors’ preferences. They’ll support your winning bidders in every aspect of the booking and travel process, ensuring they have a great time traveling. Plus, Winspire operates on a consignment modal, meaning you only pay for the packages you successfully auction above a certain value threshold.

Auction Packages

Auction Packages is another provider of diverse travel packages sure to dazzle your donors. They’ve served nonprofits for over 14 years, providing over 250 travel packages for various charity auction events. With destinations from Chile to Madrid to Marrakesh, donors will make once-in-a-lifetime memories while showing support for your cause.

When you work with Auction Packages, you’ll look through their list of packages for those best suited for your fundraising goals. Then, you’ll reserve them, offer them at your online charity auction, and report on what sold so winning bidders can redeem their packages.


The global luxury travel market is worth an estimated $1.5 trillion, an amount that is only projected to increase in the years to come. This indicates a strong interest in luxury travel—and Inspirato will help you provide that to your auction’s guests.

This auction item provider specializes in luxury accommodations, with multimillion-dollar lodgings and hotel and resort partners spanning the globe. They are determined to make your donors’ stays as comfortable and pleasant as possible, offering on-site concierge services and daily housekeeping. Plus, donors who purchase their travel packages will receive a complimentary Inspirato Travel membership, allowing them to book unlimited travel at members-only rates.


CharityACE provides travel packages hand-selected by top providers across the industry, perfectly crafted to inspire your donors to support your mission. They’re trusted by over 1,000 nonprofits and are sure to offer packages that bring in high bids.

This auction package provider makes the process easy for you by providing marketing materials that you can use to generate increased interest in your online charity auction. CharityACE’s fundraising experts can even customize packages to fit your donors’ needs. And, if travel and experiences aren’t what your donors value, they also offer non-experience items such as memorabilia and jewelry.

Best for Corporate Match Programs: Double the Donation

Online charity auctions don’t just pull in bids—they also bring in additional donations from generous guests who want to see your nonprofit soar. Increase the impact of those donations by tapping into corporate matching gift programs with Double the Donation.

In a matching gift program, an employer will match an employee’s donation to an eligible nonprofit, usually at a 1:1 ratio. For example, if an employee donates $50, the employer would also donate $50, resulting in $100 for the nonprofit. However, awareness is the biggest obstacle to successful matching gift fundraising, as around $4-7 billion in corporate funds go unclaimed every year.

Double the Donation helps you secure those funds. In an online charity auction, donors will likely make gifts straight through your donation page. Double the Donation’s tool, 360MatchPro, automatically prompts donors to request a match from their employer and helps you secure more funds for your mission. Plus, their new auto-submission features streamline the process further by automatically sending match requests for donors who opt-in.

Best CRMs


Online charity auctions are a great opportunity for you to discover more insights about your donor base, and the right CRM empowers you to store their data for future reference and analysis. DonorDock is an ideal CRM option for smaller nonprofits looking for an all-in-one solution to accompany their online charity auctions.

With DonorDock, you can keep track of unlimited contact records for a holistic view of your donor base. Their solution allows you to keep your data organized and hygienic, includes outreach capabilities for nurturing donor relationships, and helps you discover key insights and trends through reporting and dashboard features.


Virtuous offers a variety of tools to help you create more responsive donor experiences and grow giving, including a nonprofit CRM solution. With their software, you can streamline donor management with data insights that help you strengthen relationships and inspire generosity.

This CRM allows you to create personalized cultivation plans for key donor segments. With features such as flexible dashboards, membership management, relationship tracking, and more, you’ll have a 360-degree view of your donors. Plus, it allows you to increase productivity with digital engagement tracking, intelligent forecasting, and task automation.


With HighTide, you’ll have access to software custom-built around your existing donor data, scaled to meet your needs regardless of your nonprofit’s size. Their personalized solution allows you to drastically reduce migration time and eliminate data bloat for a smooth transition.

Once you’re migrated, you can connect any platform in your system and share data between any record types, including donors, members, volunteers, event attendees, and more. Plus, build custom reports that help you easily visualize information to make data-driven decisions.

Top Auctioneers for Online Charity Auctions

Alpert Enterprises

If your event needs an auctioneer, Alpert Enterprises will help set your auction apart from others by putting on a great show that generates a tremendous amount of revenue for your organization. This company is dedicated to working with you to bring creativity and success to your next online charity auction.

Alpert Enterprises specializes in live auctioneering. For virtual events, they’re partnered with premier AV/Technology companies and mobile bidding companies to deliver a flawless online auction experience to guests. They’re well-versed in strategies to keep donors engaged throughout your event, such as through fundraising games.

The Gala Team

The Gala Team prides itself on its ability to help nonprofits reach their fundraising goals and support their causes through auctions. Their staff members take a holistic approach to the success of your event, focusing on sharing your mission passionately and recognizing important supporters and bidders.

If you’re considering hosting an online auction as part of a larger virtual fundraising gala, this team has plenty of services to fill your needs. They provide dedicated auctioneers who will engage your audience, present items, and conduct paddle raises; Masters of Ceremonies who will streamline the event experience and keep guests entertained; and other key staff members who will ensure your virtual gala goes off without a hitch.

Best Online Charity Auction Planners


Boundless is an impact agency that organizes transformative events for nonprofits, including online charity auctions. They’ve served over 75 missions and raised over $100 million in funds for their nonprofit clients.

This agency’s three-phase approach includes strategic project management, giving platform setup, and an event day logistics team. It starts with a strategic brainstorming session, designed to help unlock your event’s full potential. They also offer experience-improving enhancements for your online charity auction, such as design assets, video production, and post-event services.

Murad Auctions

Murad Auctions is dedicated to taking fundraising events to the next level through their fundraising consulting and auctioneer services. They’ll engineer your live auction, bring new ideas and procedures to your nonprofit, increase efficiency, and educate you on new technology and creative ways to increase auction revenue.

With this agency’s services, you’ll keep guests excited to bid and donate in support of your mission. They’ll handle live streaming your online charity auction, including live bidding and real-time remote bidding capabilities. Plus, they’ll train your staff members to be confident in handling any future online auctions, including managing live streams, software, auction platforms, and bidding.

Wrapping Up

Online charity auctions are the perfect way to engage a wider audience with a stellar experience that inspires them to give and form stronger bonds with your mission. With the right software and top providers, you’ll be well-equipped to host an impactful event that generates more revenue than ever to help your nonprofit further its cause.

If you’d like to learn more about online charity auctions and nonprofit fundraising, check out the following resources: