There are 10 steps that nonprofits can take to make their virtual live auction successful.  These steps are crucial because a nonprofit’s live auction typically brings in 60-70% of the profit from a fundraiser. This blog will focus on these 10 steps and provide some examples.

Provide All Guests A Description Of All The Live Auction Items Before The Event

The first step to make your virtual live auction successful is to give your attendees descriptions of the live auction items.  This gives them the opportunity to review the items and decide which ones they want to bid on. Our virtual live auction software simplifies this process.  It enables you to showcase your live auction items in an online catalog several days before your virtual fundraiser.  You can use the text or e-mail feature in the virtual auction software to let your supporters know that the auction items are available for them to review.  Your supporters can help recruit others who may be interested in your auction items by sharing the link with them.

Virtual Live Auction Fundraiser

Determine What Types of Auction Items Would Appeal To Your Supporters

Do some research to determine the type of auction items your guest would bid on during the live auction.  One of the ways to do this is to just ask them.  Reach out to board members and past live auction bidders and ask what types of items they would like to purchase. Get as much specific information as possible. You can start by asking them if they are interested in some of the popular live auction items, such as:

  • Golf Packages
  • Hunting or Safari Experiences
  • Dinners Cooked By A Private Chef
  • Wine or Specialty Liquor

After compiling the feedback you received, create custom auction items for them and they will likely bid on them.

Ask Your Auctioneer To Review Your Live Auction Items With Your Supporters

Professional Auctioneer

Ask your auctioneer to contact past bidders to discuss the live auction items and answer questions. This can help increase the likelihood of auction items selling because they will know the full details and will have had their questions answered about the item before the auction.  The more they know about the items, the better. Donors will appreciate the effort and view this as a great service. It’s also helpful to promote the auction items during the cocktail hour and pre-event programming. Our software also allows the auctioneer to see the names of your live auction bidders to increase excitement during the bidding.

Showcase The Live Auction Items During Your Pre-Event Programming

Showcasing your auction items during the pre-event programming is a very effective way to promote your live auction items. Pre-event programming is a recorded 30-60-minute video or slide presentation that is shown before your actual fundraising event begins.  It allows you to showcase your sponsors, thank your volunteers and show your live auction items.  Here is a video that provides examples and more information about pre-event programming:

Use Pre-Event Programming to Show Your Organization’s Needs And Establish An Emotional Connection With Guests

Include a story or brief emotional appeal about your nonprofit’s mission. This is an example of a mission video. This shows guests your organization’s needs and creates an emotional connection. Include a video of the people you serve and show good examples of the good that they do and how your organization benefits those it serves.

Have The Live Auction At The Beginning Of Your Virtual Event

Keep your guests engaged and connected during your virtual fundraiser by holding the live auction at the beginning of the virtual event. This helps increase your profits.  Schedule the award ceremonies, entertainment, raffle drawings and other parts of your fundraiser after the live auction.  Here is a virtual live auction demo video:

Offer Live Auction Items You Can “Double Up” On

Offer live auction items at your virtual fundraiser that you can “double up” on to double the income for an item. To use this technique, get pre-approval to sell the auction item as many times as you can. For instance, if you sold the item four times, you make four times the profit.  Recently, a private high school offered dinner with the principal live auction item for $8,000. Four guests bid on this item. It sold four times, making $32,000 for the school instead of $8,000.

At another recent virtual fundraiser event, a live auction item sold twice for $13,000. See the video above. An additional advantage of using this technique is that it engages guests and creates excitement.  

Ask For Donations During the Live Auction

Another way to increase fundraiser profits is to ask for donations during the live auction.  You should do this because you can get donations from bidders who were ready to spend thousands of dollars on a live auction item, but they lost to another bidder.  Don’t miss this opportunity.  They still have the money available and if you ask them to donate, they probably will.

In a virtual live auction, use a virtual live auction software that allows guests to easily tap a button to enter the amount they want to donate. Ask the auctioneer to call out the names of the donors as they donate to generate excitement. We use virtual fundraiser software that displays who donated and the total amount donated, which updates in real time. This helps increase donations and is a great way to recognize and thank donors Here is video from a recent event where we surpassed the school’s $70,000 fundraising goal during the giving moment:

Hire a Professional, Licensed Auctioneer For Your Virtual Fundraiser

Hiring a skilled, knowledgeable auctioneer is extremely important to help ensure the success of your virtual fundraising event.  Don’t hire an amateur. The auctioneer should be licensed and a member of the National Auctioneers Association. A skilled auctioneer truly knows how to manage a virtual live auction and how to maximize your profits. They also know how to connect on camera with your guests, which is a great benefit. A professional auctioneer will also be an expert at using  virtual fundraiser software, which has many features and benefits.  The auctioneer will know how to effectively use all these features. This software allows viewers to bid in real time with virtually no delay. Using the live stream feature of the software helps make the event just as exciting and competitive as an in-person event. Using this software and taking advantage of our auctioneers’ expertise, helps us raise as much or more funds than in person events. Here is video from an event where we raised $135,000 on one auction item:

Host A Hybrid Fundraising Event To Increase Attendance

Hosting a hybrid fundraiser is a great option to use to include in person guests and those who can’t attend in person.  Many of our clients are opting to host hybrid events to reach more donors. Using our live stream virtual fundraising software makes it easy for guests who can’t attend in person to connect virtually. They can bid in the live auction and view your entire fundraiser in the comfort of their own homes. Check out our blog that provides 5 best practice tips for in-person, virtual and hybrid nonprofit fundraising events.

If you have questions about hosting a virtual fundraiser or need ideas or tips for a virtual event, schedule a free consultation to discuss how to take your next fundraiser to the next level.  You can also contact us.