How to Turn Bidders Into Donors

How to Turn Bidders Into Donors

They won something at your auction. Great!

You collect their money and they leave with the item. After the event, you add their name and address to your donor list so you can ask for a donation later. But is that the right thing to do?

Are they really a donor just because they bought something at your auction? The answer is no. They are not yet a donor.

Donors give money without getting something in return. They give because they believe in the work your nonprofit is doing and they want to see you be successful.

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.

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Here are three steps you can follow to move your auction bidders toward becoming donors for your organization

  • Give them a reason to care Just because they came to your event and spent money on an auction item doesn’t mean they’re bought in to your cause. Take the time to tell them about your work. Share the need your work addresses and how you’re making a difference. Tell them a before and after story so they can get the real impact you’re making.

For example, after your event is over, you might send them a short video explaining what your organization does and why you do it. Show them what their support is making possible. Video is powerful and when people can see for themselves what the need is, they may be moved to give.

  • Motivate them to give Create a sense of urgency by showing them why they should give NOW. What will happen to those you help if people don’t give? What will happen if they DO give? If you’ve got a waiting list, help them understand that their donation may remove someone from that waiting list or eliminate it entirely. And explain that for every day that goes by, those on the waiting list are suffering. When people understand that help is urgently needed, they’re more likely to give.

  • Stay in touch and be patient Chances are good that you won’t be able to convert all of your auction buyers, but you can probably convert a good many. It may take a combination of a video, a story, and several months of consistent updates before they’re ready to give. You need to be giving your regular donors consistent information anyway, so this shouldn’t be an extra burden. Think of your auction bidders as warm prospects, and give them the time and inspiration they need to make the switch.

Above all, remember that in order to inspire someone to give, you need to connect their heart with your client’s needs.

In other words, don’t ask people to support your annual fund or help reach your annual goal. Donors don’t care. Smart nonprofits are asking their donors to give to help change lives. I heard it said recently that “donors don’t give TO you, they give THROUGH you” which means that donors want to help you make a difference in the world.

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So, smart nonprofits are asking “Please help us eliminate this waiting list so people can get the help they need” instead of “Help us reach our goal to fund our budget.” See the difference?

By focusing on the need, connecting bidders emotionally to your work, and inspiring them deeply, you’ll be more likely to convert them into donors for your nonprofit.


Special thanks to Sandy Rees for this article contribution and teaching us how to convert auction bidders to year round donors.

Sandy Rees, Fundraising Consultant, Chief Encouragement Officer and Founder of Get Fully Funded. She is a prolific writer and you may find her stuff in past issues of Fundraising Success Magazine, at (www.ezinearticles.com)[http://ezinearticles.com/expert/Sandy_Rees/13321] where I’m a Platinum Author, on the Get Fully Funded blog, or as a guest blogger on dozens of sites on the net.

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