3 Ways to Use Your Donor Data For Your Next Auction

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As a nonprofit professional, you’re always looking for best practices to improve your fundraising campaigns. Fundraising events, like auctions, can help bring in donations that significantly impact your community. One of the best ways to take your nonprofit auction to the next level is by using data.

Your donor data is the driving force behind crucial decisions when it comes to planning your event. You’ll want to take the information captured by your donation form, social media, payment processor, and any other outreach responses you’ve received. But what do you do with this data?

This guide will help you understand how to use your captured data to supplement all aspects of your auction fundraising event. To help you use data to your advantage, let’s walk through these topics:

  • Market your auction effectively
  • Capture data for your next event
  • Follow-up after the event

You’ll be able to make decisions based on accurate information rather than assumptions when forming a marketing strategy, making decisions for your next event, and streamlining future communications.

Market Your Auction Effectively

You want as many registrants as possible for your next auction event. To begin, your team needs a strong marketing strategy. You have to reach the right people at the right time to convince them that your mission and event matter, and this comes from understanding your audience. To do this, you need to use your data.

When you have a marketing strategy that reaches your intended audience and bases decisions on their preferences and concerns, you have a higher chance of attracting the right audience.

Let’s use email marketing as an example. Use your donor data to segment your donors based on information in your online donation form, payment processor, social media engagement, and CRM. Then, create specific marketing materials for each donor segment. This can be based on age or donor level. This way, your email content can target the right people.

Here are some data points you can use to optimize your marketing materials:

  • Basic information. Demographics including location, age, family size, and gender can help you specify your communications in your event promotion. For example, if you’re hosting an auction for a school, you’d determine who to contact based on which donors have children or are affiliated with education in the local area.
  • Communications preferences. Some donors respond well to social media posts, and others are more likely to receive your direct mail appeals and requests. Make sure you’re meeting your donors where they are so they see your content.
  • Engagement history. With data captured by your payment processor, you know who gives and when. Your CRM can also tell you how often they attend events, and so on. You can use this information to learn more about your donors and determine who to reach out to. For example, if they are a regular event attendee, you’ll want to invite them to your auction.

By using your existing donor data, your team can send more personalized content to the right people. With intentional marketing, you strengthen your donor relationships for more valuable connections going forward.

Capture Data For Your Next Event

Collecting donor data is one of the most valuable tasks you can do for your organization. As you can see, it can do wonders to help you market your fundraising events effectively.
But did you know that your auction fundraising event is also an incredible opportunity to gather even more information? This data can help improve future events and pinpoint which strategies went well and which could use some work.

Here are ways you can collect data during your fundraising auction:

Through your auction registration

When your supporters register for your auction event, their information is stored in your CRM. Remember, this is one of the main places you collect donor data, so be sure you’re asking the right questions. Here’s what you can learn from your registration form:

  • Basic contact information
  • How they found out about your organization
  • What motivates them to give
  • What auction items may interest them
  • Their stage in their donor relationship with your organization

This information can also help you build donor segments going forward!

Segmenting your donor audience can help create targeted communications. This brings value to supporters and strengthens your donor relationships.

For example, let’s say you met new supporters from your recent auction. You want to send them introduction-type marketing information after the event. Using your donor data, segment those who fall into this category and where to send information for your next auction.

Through your payment processor

When your bidders receive their prize, they have to contribute the promised amount to your organization. You’ll want to make sure you’re using a payment processor that integrates well with your CRM and other nonprofit tools. This way, you have donor profiles with all the information you could need.

Investing in the right payment processor is essential to:

  • Protect the data entered by donors against security breaches
  • Seamlessly save the information to your CRM
  • Record giving data to use for future marketing outreach

For more information about how to get started with the best payment software, we recommend iATS Payments’ nonprofit payment processing buyer’s guide to explore some top options. You’ll be set up with the best processor for your needs in no time.

On your donation form

In addition to bids, your attendees may resonate with your mission to the point of contributing more through your donation form. Your form is a great way to find out more about your donors. You’ll want only to ask the essentials, as you can follow up with more questions later on.

Consider asking information such as:

  • Donor name
  • Gift amount
  • Contact information

This guide recommends bolstering your donation form with additional ways to support your cause. This can include forms to opt-in to email newsletters or access to a searchable matching gift database. This way, your donors are engaged with your organization, and you have information to strengthen the relationship going forward. These details can improve engagements with donors after their initial donation.

Through these data captures, your team can learn more about your donors and how they like to interact with your organization. You’re also able to track the success metrics of your auction promotion strategy and virtual fundraising outreach. Remember, there’s no such thing as useless data when it comes to learning more about how to better engage with supporters.

Follow-Up After The Event

Your team can’t measure the success of your auction based on assumptions. With that said, don’t forget to keep the discussion about your event alive after the last piece is auctioned off to a bidder. Your event’s purpose, after all, is also to strengthen the relationship between your organization and attendees.

After your auction event ends, use your data to send out follow-up materials such as thank you notes and surveys. Email can be the quickest and cheapest way to send thank you letters, but direct mail has a high visibility rate.

Suppose you decide to go the route of physical mail. In that case, Double the Donation recommends direct mail companies that can integrate with your existing CRM so you don’t have to go through manually addressing your envelopes. Otherwise, you can use your current email tool and trigger communications once the event concludes.

Now that you have your method of communication, what will your content look like? Consider not only thank you notes but also survey your attendees, volunteers, and staff to ask how your next auction could be better. Ask questions like:

  • Was our staff helpful?
  • Was the online bidding process user-friendly?
  • How did you find out about our event?
  • What was your favorite part of the auction?

This information is crucial for planning your next event based on feedback from attendees rather than assumptions.

Fill in the blanks

Your team likely has the basic information from auction registrants. Now, fill in the blanks on additional information you may need. Post-event communications are the perfect opportunity to ask extra questions not included in your donation form and learn even more about your donors and their interests related to nonprofits in general.

Ask for data like:

  • Household size
  • If they’d want to volunteer in the future
  • How they heard about your organization and auction

With this information, you’re able to add even more value to your donor profiles and know who to reach out to for your next auction fundraiser.

Send a thank you note

A thank you goes a long way when it comes to showing gratitude for those who contribute their hard-earned money and time to your auction event. It’s important that every time a supporter donates to your mission or participates in a fundraising campaign, you inform them that your organization can’t fund various programs or accomplish important projects without their help.

Sending your appreciation also strengthens your donor relationship and sets you up for future engagements with the supporter. It’s well-known that donor retention is more cost-effective than donor acquisition, so take whatever opportunities out there to develop your donor relationships and keep their support for the long term.

By paying attention to your attendees after your auction event, you can gain invaluable information to help you plan your next auction event.


The data your organization collects through your outreach and fundraising events can strengthen relationships with your supporters, inform your future strategies, and so much more.

But to take advantage of this, your team must put best practices into use when planning an event and capturing donor data. Put the data from your auction into use and happy fundraising!

This post was written by the nonprofit payment processing experts at iATS Payments.

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