After the auction fundraiser is over it’s time to take a deep breath and appreciate the work that was completed. If the auction met or exceeded goals great! If the auction fell short of goals don’t be discouraged, every dollar raised is one more than you had the day before. Auction fundraisers may take a few years to gain momentum and grow year over year.
Distribution of Auction Items & Paper Trail
Be sure to distribute auction items in a timely manner. Clearly communicate date, time location for item pick-up or time frame for items to be mailed out. If you auctioned no risk auction items be sure to include all appropriate certificates and paperwork. Give a few options and repeat the message multiple times on multiple channels. Yes, even though this information may have been included on receipts it is imperative to remind bidders again- when, and where winning distributions will take place.
Close out all final bids and sales. Create a paper trail by providing receipts and statements. Record final accounting numbers for income and expenses. Report on goals promptly to achieve a transparent message.
Report Auction Proceeds
Clearly and timely report the outcome of the auction. Explain how and when the funds will be spent. Better yet, show how the funds are BEING spent with photos and videos. For long term projects provide a timeline and status updates. Use current communication channels as well as use the opportunity to swell the social media followers. Show in photos and videos how the raised funds are being used.
Sincere thank you letters to each and every donor and bidder are a necessity. Professionally acknowledge the philanthropy in a timely fashion. The donor may require a follow up for their records for future requests AND it’s the right thing to do. The organization or individual was kind enough to spend time helping the fundraising auction so please properly thank everyone. Publicly thank volunteers in a high profile fashion. Write letters to the leaders of the cause, ie. school principal, president for the charity, local community officers and thank them for their time in supporting the cause. Volunteers that feel appreciated will return to help again and again. Use all active channels for thank all the efforts, this includes email, and social networks.
Donation Matching in the United States is favored philanthropy channel. Many corporations match donations made by employees to a wide range of nonprofits, to support employee charitable giving, and to extend corporate philanthropy. Matching donations, or matching gifts, are free money that nonprofits often miss out on because of limited information on donors’ employers, complex corporate giving programs, and because the corporate matching process is usually unknown for employees.
Post auction reach-out to bidders to encourage them to seek a donation match from their employer. Most people just simply forget their employer offers the match so s gentle reminder can help boost the final auction income.
Encourage Social Media Engagement
Social media feeds Facebook has made this super simple. Ever notice how many videos you see on your Facebook thread? This is not a coincidence. Facebook algorithms are favoring videos and this can help gain attention for a fundraising auction. This is a great time to evaluate and elevate the social media content. A specialist can provide a free social media assessment on all your online efforts. This assessment reviews your social sites as well as your website to see how you online efforts are working to attract new supporters from the most recent bidders.
Bidders Into Benefactors
Maintain connections that have been made during all auction activities. Auction fundraisers bring out the core supporters who in turn bring friends to join in the festivities. Identify the new patrons and connect with them promptly. Send and auction receipt along with a list of ways to connect and save the date for future events. Get on the radar of the new friends and make them part of the family. Show bidders why their support for the cause is important and worth future commitments in terms of time or money.
Bidders are people who just participated in a transaction that happened to benefit your nonprofit. See the difference? You CAN convert them into donors, but it’s going to take a little work.
Bidders into Donors Bidders have spent money to help the cause, extend the relationship to help benefit the cause on an ongoing basis. First earn the trust of the bidder by showing how the group is a good citizen, steward of the monies donated. Only after earning trust do you have the right to ask again. Bidders can become annual donors.
- Make sure your event goes off without a hitch
- Remember that timing is everything
- Create a membership program
- Personalize your outreach
- Get the support of the right software
Bidders into Volunteers Bidders make great volunteers. Even before the auction ends thank the current volunteers. If the auction has a party or gala identify and thank volunteers in a simple or special way. List the volunteers on a poster or in the bid book, ask them to stand during part of the presentation, hand them a flower upon leaving- get creative. Small gestures go a long way in retaining volunteers. After the auction keep them posted on the success. Be open to new ideas and match the volunteer with a job they feel comfortable with. Corporate volunteer grants are programs where companies provide monetary grants to organizations where employees volunteer regularly. Expanding the volunteer base is good business sense.
If you are not organized take this opportunity to get organized. If you used a program like Auctria to run the auction fundraiser use the data in positive manner. Upload to a favorite donor management program or email system. Don’t have one? Get one! Mailchimp is a favorite for ease of use in making professional looking emails and in uploading emails, scheduling & automating campaigns. Another favorite tool is Vlink for schools is vlink. Vlink is not just a website but a tool to manage events, calendars, volunteers, and emails.
Save the Date for the Next Event
Always maintain a current timeline of the next events and share. If the auction is the marquee event and the date has already been chosen announce it at the current event. Upcoming events that are related to the cause including: volunteer opportunities, upcoming publicity, news. Don’t just share, shout it out and ask other to share! Promote all upcoming events with lead time and details.
Requesting feedback is another chance to show you care, another chance to reach out. Another chance to follow-up with results from the freeback. Request feedback from donors, bidder and volunteers. Ask specific questions or request solutions to improve the auction fundraiser. This can include everything from event to the auction itself. Good ideas from good people can come forward. Feedback can be hard to listen to especially after spending countless hours and making a financial investment in the event. To make this process easier week anonymous feedback and roll-up the data so it’s easier to get a fair assessment. A favorite tool to conduct a quick and easy survey is Survey Monkey. Survey Monkey tagline is “Ask more, know more, do more; capture real voices and opinions and make sense of the at scale.” This is the exact goal to improve the next auction for more effective fundraising.