Auction Fundraising Case Studies & Best Practices

Auction Fundraising Case Studies

Auctria has the pleasure to provide the auction toolbox for over 15,000 auctions assisting groups in raising millions of dollars across the United States, Canada, United Kingdom and Australia. We were lucky to catch-up with a handful of the auction fundraising teams and here are best practices to share.

Organized & Efficient Equals Time Well Spent

My name is Shannon, here is my fundraising story. I assumed the position of chair for our charity fundraiser four years ago when our auction item bid sheets were organized in a single Word document. I kid you not; 200 pages long with one item listed per page. In an effort to get more organized, as the auction chair, I set a starting point with the use of Excel spreadsheets set with formulas. This was substantially better, but still time consuming and confusing to multiple administrators. I sensed this would be difficult for other team members to utilize. It was more accurate than using single pieces of paper to record bids, but it was still time consuming. We needed to streamline our operations.

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Evolution of an Elementary School Auction

Year 0 Offering Auction Items During Carnival $1200 total income, items closed at a fraction of retail values.

Year 1 Stand Alone Auction Event Year 1 yield $9,000 Increase of 9-fold. This is great but we can do better!

Year 2 Stand Alone Auction Event- Working Smarter 10% additional bidders attended. Year 2 yield $12,000. This is great but we can do better!

Year 3 Stand Alone Event with Online Auction Teaser Year 3 yield $15,000 30% increase income from prior year. This is great but we can do better! SUCCESS! Number of bidders doubled.

Year 4 Online Auction Only Year 4 yield $18,000 20% increase from the prior year and the success goes on.

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Data Retention & Transition is Critical

The cloud based or web based program has given our PTO the ability to literally store thousands of bits of information in very stable and always accessible location. Having disconnected team activity in the past was a nightmare! Some people were using Mac or Apple, and an even wider variation of Windows operating systems. This worry simply vanishes with a web based program. For the last 4 years many volunteers have come and gone from helping with auction. By effortlessly handing over the administration access for Auctria to the next auction committee is ready to go. We are literally handing over all the past year’s data mine so there is no loss in transition. Instead of re-inventing the wheel Auctria let’s a new team pick up where the last team left off.

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Donations Make the Auction

A Michigan school run by a parent organization in Michigan has mastered the art of auction donations. Their auction has been running for 7 years so and continues to grow each year. They do so with strategic item procurement. Consider a few factors: audience and what they like to spend money on, discover local treasures and people, create unique experiences.

The audience here is very well defined. Families with children that attend the school is the most obvious. Consider expanding the audience though. For instance we ask not only parents but grandparents, past student families and local stakeholders to donate. “You NEVER know who owns what, has connections where, and is willing to help.”

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Branding the Auction Fundraiser

Branding, establish a hallmark that is recognized. Branding is the chief goal of marketers for to define purpose, emote brand connection, establish consistency and engage stakeholder involvement. Purpose, brand connection to the donor & bidder, brand message, brand consistency and stakeholder engagement are the basis for brand awareness

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The Power of Audience

With attendance exceeding 400, SWCA has perfected the art of organizing an auction. Due to their continual success, the auction has become an A-List event in Southwest Washington. The SWCA uses their knowledge of the audience as a starting point in organizing the annual event. Core questions include: What will the audience bid on? What theme will strike interest? What emcees will increase profitability? Know the Audience!

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Expanded Reach

Houston Choral Showcase has tremendous support from within. Friends and family of the choral group generously support the organization. By using a gala to garner attention AND that event being well organized they hope to expand beyond the reach of gala attendees. If they had fun at the gala, they’ll come back next year and bring their friends. Having a website for the auction leads to credibility and the ease of sharing information. At the bottom of the auction catalog website there are links to the group’s website, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Power User Tip: After the event, export the bidder list to your favorite email and mail programs to boost your communication reach (Houston Choral Showcase uses Mailchimp and DonorSnap). Keep your supporters updated with your ongoing activities and show them how the fundraising revenue is being used.

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Fundraising Formula

Create a formula to keep the fundraiser on track. Name and Images are Consistent. LBDP merges that with with their mission of giving back to the community. Strategic Partnering for location and donations. LBDP has figured out when to say yes and when to say no. Yes is when both parties can help each other in reaching and exceeding goals.

Facebook is an important part of the LBDP formula. The ability to connect with past donors and future supporters in-between annual events is precious. Photos of how the proceeds from the past event shows transparency for how the funds were dispersed.

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