By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services & Conferences
The pandemic changed the way that we do nearly everything in one way or another. Some things have gone back to “normal,” while other things have adapted into our “new normal.” A lot of these changes asked us to embrace connecting from a distance. For many Sertoma clubs, this means that we may keep meeting online for board and committee meetings. Other clubs are now more at ease with focusing some communications through online notifications and channels.
As clubs become increasingly more comfortable with using technology, many have found themselves wondering what tools could also make online fundraising more accessible to their members. One of the most popular tools relies on a time-honored method of raising money: the benefit auction.
Auctions have long been a nonprofit fundraising staple, and with the advent of the Internet, online auctions have made it even easier than ever before. One of the great things about auctions is that you can make it as elaborate or as simple as you want. Maybe you just want to auction off a single item that you think will bring in big bucks, or maybe you have decided to hold a virtual gala. Either way, there are options to make your fundraising dreams come true.
Online auctions obviously work a little differently from live auctions. Your traditional live gala is replaced with an online environment. Rather than an in-person display, you’ll need quality images and attention-grabbing descriptions to showcase your items online. Bids are tracked using automated software rather than physical bid sheets, and your bidding audience could be anyone in the world rather than just anyone in the room. Online auctions also give you the flexibility to extend bidding and add new items to keep people involved.
One of the major concerns people have about online auctions is that you lose the excitement of a live auction. There is no getting around it. However, there are ways you can build excitement through engaging marketing and word-of-mouth promotions.
To get started in your software search, it may be good to take a look at how many items you want to sell. If you have only a couple things, eBay – especially eBay's charity platform -- could be a great tool. Something like biddingowl.com works well for several items, and if you are looking for a full-out event, you might consider a more comprehensive platform like Greater Giving. There are many other solutions out there, so make sure to do an online search to learn what possibilities may work best for your club and event.
Note: This is an excerpt from our Virtual Fundraising training session.