fundraising auctionSuccess is where preparation meets opportunity.

When it comes to event fundraising, nonprofit professionals know this all too well. In order for your upcoming fundraising auction to run without a hitch, you spend countless hours gathering items, scoping out the venue and training staff, volunteers and auctioneers. But smooth logistics only account for half the story. Perhaps the most important piece of prep work: getting donors ready for the big night.

Here are 3 ways to engage your audience early and start fundraising before the first item hits the auction block.


Lights: Establish and share fundraising auction goals.

You’re already educating potential donors and attendees on the who, what and when of your event through mail, phone and email campaigns. Now’s your chance to reinforce the why: to raise money for a great cause. Pre-event promotion campaigns are an ideal time to educate people on the mission of your organization, plus highlight your fundraising goals. This ensures everyone is ready to support your cause while having a good time.

In marketing materials like newsletters, try including a short testimonial from someone impacted by your work. Include one simple photo and intriguing pull quote per story, and emphasize that these accomplishments wouldn’t be possible without the funds raised at your auction.

You can also design an infographic or chart to highlight notable statistics from previous auctions, such as the dollar amount of support raised, the previous number of participants, and how many services were provided as a result.

Finally, if you’re pre-selling auction items or collecting general donations, a centralized progress chart (think: thermometer graphic) posted on your event website keeps the focus on fundraising and encourages people to work together towards your goal.


 Camera: Multiply your reach on social media.

Social media is a great way to engage donors with your mission and build anticipation for the event. On the Facebook event page, periodically post teaser photos and videos of one or more awe-inspiring auction items. Develop posts that ask questions of your followers. Hold online contests. They key is to engage them and get them involved. Featuring items like luxury travel or sports memorabilia can generate shares and conversation in the comments, and each interaction causes your event to pop up in more and more news feeds.

Also smart: Provide social media tools that supporters can use to promote the event. Consider creating and sending out an official event profile picture (square) and cover photo (851 x 315 pixels) that’s easy to upload onto their own profiles.


Finally, as the event draws near, post sneak peeks of the venue, shout-outs to staff and VIP donors, and updates on exciting fundraising auction items to encourage greater participation and build anticipation for a fun night to come.


 Action! (Step 3): Discover what interests your audience.

eBOOK_Survey-Monkey-Logo.pngAuction item procurement provides a unique opportunity to find out more about your donors and show you value their opinion. By discovering your donors’ interests and hobbies, you can curate an auction catalog targeted to your audience.

Try using a free survey tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms. You could also make appointments with your key patrons to find out what’s on their bucket list, or host a pre-event party for VIP attendees to share what items they’d like to bid on.

By knowing what intrigues those who will be in attendance, you can procure the big-ticket auction items (like bucket list Experiences and travel packages) most likely to garner high bids and generate buzz. These items can serve as the centerpiece of your social media and email campaigns.

→ For our easy guide to surveying donors using SurveyMonkey, check out this article.

Since high quality trips, sporting events and award shows can be difficult to get donated, reserving packages with a consignment provider like Winspire may be the easiest and most profitable way to ensure happy bidders and meet your fundraising goals.

From providing detailed package descriptions and display material to handling travel arrangements for winning bidders, Winspire can free up your time to focus on other key areas of planning—or take a much-needed break!