An online auction are a great way to raise money for your favorite charity or non-profit organization. I’m going to show you some simple steps so that you can run your own Online Auction…and so you’ll participate in mine.
What is an Online Auction?
I first found out about Online Auctions on Facebook about 3 years ago. Someone had posted a page with an online auction to help a woman with Cancer. I clicked on the link because the woman was a co-founder of an organization I was familiar with, Project Sweet Peas. Project Sweet Peas helps families with babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or families that have lost a baby. Our family received a wonderful bag with blankets, stuffed animals, and essentials like lotion, tissue, and a disposable camera when we were in the NICU with our twins.
Anyways, the Auction had some cute homemade items, baked goods, and some gift certificates. I ended up buying a necklace and print for my Mom for her birthday. It felt really good to be buying a gift while also donating to an important cause.
A year later, a woman in my Twin to Twin Survivors Support Group wanted to do a Fundraising Walk to raise money for the TTTS Foundation, and she created the Walker and Willis Walk to Fight TTTS. Her surviving twin wanted to do it to honor his brother for his birthday. She was asking for help, and I volunteered right away. We were brainstorming ways to raise money without spending a ton on hosting the walk. That’s when I thought back to the Auction, and realized I could do this to offset the cost of the walk and even raise a little more money for the Foundation. So, The Walker and Willis Auction to Combat TTTS was born.
The first year we raised over $500, and the second year we raised close to $900. With the success of these two Auctions, I decided to also do one when our team was raising money for the March of Dimes this year.
It takes a little organization and attention to detail, but once you get all the pieces in place, it’s a great way to make money for your organization. Let me tell you how to get started and run your own Online Auctions.
Step #1 Set up your Auction Page
I ran my Auction on Facebook, since that is where I have the greatest social reach. You can either set up your auction page as a “community page,” and invite people to “like” it OR you can set it up as a group, add all your friends, then they can “opt” out themselves. I, personally, like running it in a group, but it’s your preference.
Step #2 Decide on the Rules of the Auction
Explain the cause for the Auction and the rules of bidding in your description. I simply asked people to comment on the picture with their bid in $5 increments. In the future, I will be starting with a minimum bid of $10 for each item. For my first Online Auction, I only accepted Paypal as payment. I then found out that you could send invoices through Paypal, and the person could just use a credit card. Paypal does take a small percentage, so keep that in mind. Make the dates of the Auction clear by specifying a start date/time and end date/time with your time zone.
Step #3 Get Items to Auction
Ask friends, family, “Facebook” friends, co-workers, etc. if they have anything they’d be willing to auction for your cause. Handmade items such as blankets, artwork, personalized prints, or kid’s clothing items work great. Gift cards are also easy to send, and if it’s a National brand, everyone can bid on them. Send personal messages to your friends, make phone calls, or even post your requests in groups you feel comfortable in. For example, I’m a member of a TTTS survivors group, so I felt good about posting my request there.
Step #4 Make an Album
Once you start getting responses to your requests for donated items, get pictures of the items. If the donor does not want to be responsible for shipping the item to the winner, have them send you the item, which you could then photograph. If they are willing to send it directly to the winner once the auction is over, you can just have them send you a picture and description of the item. I then made an album for all the items.
Step #5 Promote, Promote, Promote
Keep reminding people of your upcoming Auction with posts, photographs of the items, and even emails. Every time I got a new item, I would post it on the Auction page, on my personal page, and tag everyone that was involved in the Auction. You want to reach as many people as you can.
Step #6 Watch the Bids Come Rolling In
I made sure to “like” every bid, and tried to highlight items that still needed more bids. Make sure you post a reminder when your Auction is coming to an end.
Step #7 Notify Winners and Donors
Once the Auction is over, announce the winner on each picture. Then, make sure to send a personal message to each winner with the dollar amount they owe. Ask them to send it via Paypal or to send you their email address, so you can invoice them. When sending it through Paypal, make sure to have them put their address in the comment section. Once you receive the money, then contact the donor and have them send the item.
Step #8 Say Thank you
Remember to thank both your donors and winners. Also, thank everyone that participated. You want everyone to come back again next time!
Now head over HERE to participate in this year’s Online Auction!