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7 Best Practices for a Successful Benefit Auction

Posted by Ian Lauth

Fundraising Goal for a Successful Benefit Auction

Benefit auctions require a lot of time and energy, but when successful, the end result always makes the hard work worthwhile. To be successful in raising money and ensuring donors have a great time, Nonprofits should follow these seven best practices:

1. Procure highly sought-after auction items

Whatever the cause, it is important to offer benefit auction items that will get people excited and motivated to bid. Invest in your procurement efforts early enough so that you have enough time to obtain bigger and better auction items.

Free eBook: An Introduction to Procuring Quality Charity Auction Items

2. Promote early and often

People need to know about your event in order to consider attending. You’ll of course want to state the Nonprofit and the cause it supports, but to attract a larger audience, you should also generate some buzz around the more exciting benefit auction items.

Read Next: "6 Powerful Ways to Market Your Fundraising Event for Free"

3. Present items in the best way possible

Selling your benefit auction items, whether it's at a live or silent auction, relies heavily on presentation. While it depends on the item you're selling, a powerpoint with images and video clips can do alot to bolster an auctioneer's efforts at a live event.

For silent auction items that can't be physically placed on the table, such as Winspire Experiences, providing images and a good presentation is essential. For our Nonprofit customers, we provide a Display PDF for each Experience that can be blown up to a poster size and placed on the table. You can also use our free silent auction display templates to ensure professional, sleek displays.

Download Silent Auction Item Display Sheet Templates

4. Set a minimum bid to ensure profit

To ensure profit on consignment items like ours, make sure you're setting a minimum bid 20 percent over the package cost. Or, you can choose a flat amount to start the bidding such as $500 over the cost.

Read Next: "3-Step Guide for Setting Minimum Starting Bids on Charity Auction  Items"

5. Let winners know what to expect after the event

After someone wins an auction item, it’s important to let that person know how to redeem it. Let them know where and when they can pick up their prize. For items that require more follow up, such as our unique Experiences, make sure your winning bidders are given directions for how to redeem.

Winspire provides a Winning Bidder Letter that tells winners what to expect after the event. Letters should be updated before the auction to include the package descriptions.

6. Allow more than one bidder to win

In some cases, you can include items in your auction that allow more than one bidder to win, such as - you guessed it - our Winspire Experiences! These sorts of items allow you to double and even triple that amount you make on an item.

To do: Don't tell your bidder this up front so you can encourage a bidding war. Then, once you have two or more bidders going head to head to win an item, wait for one to drop out and then sell it to all of them! If you're doing this with Winspire Experiences, make sure to have more than one Winning Bidder Letter for each auction package.

Read Next: "Double Your Live Auction Revenue with This Easy Technique"

7. Follow up and give thanks

After the benefit auction, make sure you reach out to the attendees who won to see how everything went. You should also take the time to thank your donors - especially the big spenders - personally and work to build a positive relationship. You can do this by taking them out to lunch or inviting them to a different event (one that doesn’t involve donations). People will appreciate the gesture and will be pleased to know you are thankful for their support.  


Winspire Communications Director
About Ian Lauth

Ian Lauth has been working to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue since early 2012 when he was hired by Winspire to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes. You can also find Ian on .

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Fundraising, Event Production
Ian Lauth
Ian Lauth
With an extensive background in marketing development and content design, Ian’s role at Winspire is to develop external communications, brand expansion and product delivery processes to help Nonprofits maximize their fundraising revenue. Ian serves as the Editor-in-Chief for Winspire News, creating and managing blog content, newsletters, eBooks and other resources for Nonprofit fundraising professionals.

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