Amid the current public health landscape and the rise of COVID-19, it is becoming increasingly popular for event hosts to move their fundraisers online. It’s not just limited to fundraising events, but live conferences are now shifting to virtual events. Many fundraising events have collected auction and raffle items that have a finite timeline to be used. With events being postponed for several months, you do not want to risk these items expiring before you are able to reschedule your fundraising. Setting up an online fundraiser will allow your donors to participate in your event without having to even leave their couch. This way you can raise money in this volatile time without letting those items expire. We also put together a guide on how to find other great items for your rescheduled event!
We know you’re sitting there now thinking, “Wow! This sounds great! How do I get started?” so we wanted to put together a quick guide on the appropriate steps to take.
Alert your Participants
The first thing you will want to do is contact your event attendees and let them know that your auction has been moved to an online-only event. Since this is an important message, we recommend sharing the news as quickly and widely as you can. Be sure to email all registered guests and utilize your organization’s social media to post about the change
The silver lining on this is that now, you may be able to reach participants who were unable to attend your in-person event, expanding your donor pool!
Choose a Provider & Create your Auction Page
Once your participants have been alerted of the event update, it’s now time to figure out how you will be running it. Some of the key points you will want to look for are:
- Customer support
- Ease of use
- Accepted forms of payment/payment processing partners
It is important to look for a platform that matches the needs of your organization & event. If you are just running a simple auction, you shouldn’t have to worry about learning the ropes to a behemoth platform that has a million different options, or vice versa, you do not want to be limited in your options by committing to the wrong platform. Most Accelevents auctions and raffles go live in under 30 minutes!
Add your Items & Build your Site
Once you’ve selected the auction platform you will be working with, it’s time to add your items & customize your auction site. When working on your auction site, tie in your branding with that of the event. If you were hosting a “Night Under the Stars” gala, incorporate images of a night sky, dark colors, & any other promotional materials you’ve made. Just because the in person event had to be postponed or cancelled, doesn’t mean your auction can’t carry on the theme! Here are some more tips on how to build an effective fundraising site.
When adding items, be sure to add at least one image for each as well as a description of what’s included with each prize. Since guests won’t be able to view the items in person, you’ll want to give them the full experience & allow them to see all of your awesome items up for grabs!
Promote, promote, PROMOTE!
When you’re satisfied with your site, it’s time to start sharing it out! There are numerous ways to promote your fundraiser but social media and email are going to be the winners right now. Encourage your supporters & participants to share the link on their social media as well for an even larger donor pool! (You could even do a contest, promising a gift card to one of the people who share your post!)
Be sure to share instructions on how to participate in a digital auction. Most auction providers will have pre-made instructions that you can easily send out!
Once you’re off to the races & bidding has begun, make sure you have a way for your participants to contact you with questions. This is essential since they won’t be able to walk across the venue to find help directly! Make sure the platform you pick has robust customer service to handle any questions you may have along the way.
If you were planning on hosting a Live Auction/Paddle Raise, one possibility could be to look into live streaming the auction using Facebook Live or another video platform, allowing participants to comment their bids.
Close your Auction
When bidding ends, make sure that guests are notified of any items they won. Most platforms should have an automatic winner notification. It is also important that your winners know how to checkout & complete payment. If your platform automatically charges credit cards, great! If they do not automatically charge, ensure that checkout instructions are provided by either the platform directly or your organization.
Since you do not have an auction table at a venue, ensure that winners are clear on how & when to pick up (or be shipped) their prizes.
It is also a good idea to send a thank you note to your bidders for both their support & their flexibility with the transition to an online auction. If you are accepting donations for your organization, this is also a great time to share that link as some of the participants who did not win an item may still wish to contribute to your cause.
Obviously, this is a bit of a hectic time for event hosts. Our goal is to help reduce any stress added by the recent health situation & to make it simple to continue fundraising, without jeopardizing the health of your donors. If you have any further questions about shifting your auction online, feel free to message our Customer Success team here!