Ah, charity auctions. They’re one of the most widely hosted nonprofit fundraising events around.

And for good reason! If the proper time and care is put into planning, these events have the potential to bring in big bucks. After all, who wouldn’t be more inclined to give to a good cause when exotic vacation packages, celebrity dinners, and other amazing prizes are up for grabs?

Luckily, the bidding that takes place at charity auctions can generate a hefty profit in and of itself.

But if your nonprofit or school is looking to raise even more money at your next charity auctions (and who isn’t?), we have 6 easy fundraising ideas that can help you maximize your proceeds:

  1. Partner with corporate sponsors.
  2. Hold a raffle.
  3. Build a wine wall.
  4. Pair your event with crowdfunding.
  5. Try a youth auction.
  6. Offer signup parties.
Charity Auction tip #1: Partner with corporate sponsors

What’s The Idea?

In our previous post for Click & Pledge, we discussed the basics of matching gifts. Today, we’re going to talk about another type of corporate giving program: corporate sponsorships.

Providing a sponsorship is another way that companies can practice corporate social responsibility (CSR). However, instead of making a straightforward donation to your nonprofit, the company will essentially partner up with you during the event planning process.

Companies can ease the burden of planning and running charity auctions by:

  • Making fiscal donations to help fund event costs.
  • Donating auction items, event supplies, or other gifts in-kind.
  • Providing high-profile event advertising.
  • Bringing your auction additional clout through brand name association.

In return, all your nonprofit will have to do is feature event sponsor logos in auction advertising and throughout the venue. After all, the main benefit of this partnership is the reputation boost the company will receive by supporting philanthropic work.

While partnering up with a corporate sponsor isn’t a direct way to make more money at your auction, it can certainly help your fundraising indirectly. With an ally on hand to split event costs, you can make a greater return on the money you put into the event.

How Do You Pull It Off?

Asking for sponsorships can be intimidating, but luckily, there are a couple of ways to make it easier.

For one, start with those you know. It will be much easier to score sponsorships when the foundation of trust has already been established, so scope out professional connections among your staff, board members, donors, and other stakeholders. (Pro tip: integrating a matching gift tool with your donor management system can help you spot and keep track of professional relationships!)

You should also be looking at companies whose affinities match your organization’s. After all, if a company is passionate about improving local schools, but your nonprofit is committed to providing clean water abroad, you’re going to have a much harder time getting the sponsorship.

Charity Auctions tip #2: Hold a raffle

What’s The Idea?

Raffles are a classic moneymaker, and they’re often paired with auctions since both have a material component.

During the traditional raffle, you’ll pick a prize, sell and collect raffle tickets, and then draw one lucky winner’s ticket out of a hat or bowl.

However, there are many other types of raffles your organization could host, too. If the traditional raffle doesn’t resonate with you, get creative!

How Do You Pull It Off?

Luckily, your organization has probably already procured a bunch of amazing auction items for your event.

Snag an item with universal appeal and make it your raffle prize. Remember to highlight the raffle in event advertising so that supporters will know to participate.

You can sell physical tickets at the event and/or virtual tickets online using auction software or another online ticketing tool.

All that’s left to do is collect the tickets and select a winner at the end of the event!

Charity Auctions tip #3: Build a wine wall

What’s The Idea?

Wine walls are one of the most popular auction fundraising ideas. What adult doesn’t enjoy unwinding with an alcoholic beverage from time to time?

During a wine wall fundraiser, participants will pay a flat fee (usually $25 or so) to pick a random bottle of wine from a wall, a table, or another display.

The caveat here is that all bottle labels will be covered. So, depending on the luck of the draw, supporters might walk away with a bottle of two-buck chuck or an upscale wine valued at much more than they paid for.

Even if your donors make a bad deal, everyone walks away with a tasty bottle of wine and a happy heart knowing that they supported a great cause.

How Do You Pull It Off?

Of course, for the wine wall to work, you’ll need plenty of bottles of wine (about 3 to every 5 guests) at a range of price points. See if you can procure bottles from a local vineyard, store, or donor.

You’ll also need to figure out a way to cover up the bottles. Paper wrappings, gift bags, and boxes should all do the trick.

At the event itself, create a wine wall station for donors to pull from. You can sell pulls at the event and/or online through your event website.

Charity Auctions tip #4: Pair your event with crowdfunding

What’s The Idea?

Nonprofit crowdfunding is a fundraising trend that’s currently taking the world by storm, and it’s often used in conjunction with events.

This strategy leverages a large network of donors, each of whom contributes small gifts to help the nonprofit reach a larger goal. It works best when used to fund a specific goal or project whose progress can easily and continually be demonstrated to donors.

You can spin crowdfunding one of two ways: either set up a crowdfunding page and tackle this initiative on your own, or add a peer-to-peer component and encourage your supporters to crowdfund, too!

How Do You Pull It Off?

In order to run a crowdfunding campaign, you’ll need to select an excellent crowdfunding platform!

This technology will enable your organization to build a customizable crowdfunding donation page that’s equipped with all of the tools you’ll need to run your campaign.

Primarily, you’ll need the help of robust social sharing tools and a page that supports frequent updates so that you can keep your donors in the loop on your progress. If you’re including a peer-to-peer component, make sure your software can support your fundraisers, too.

Of course, you’ll also need to set a definitive goal.

If you’re hosting your auction and crowdfunding campaign to fund a specific project or a larger campaign with clear expected outcomes (like a capital campaign), you already have the perfect structure in place for your crowdfunding!

If not, you can choose a cause-related project that can be easily quantified. In any case, don’t forget to include information about your auction on your crowdfunding page and encourage all of your donors to attend!

Charity Auctions tip #5: Try a youth auction

What’s The Idea?

Charity auctions aren’t typically held by churches and other religious groups, but if your organization falls into that category, we’ve got an idea for you, too!

You can put a spin on the traditional charity auction by hosting a youth auction.

Youth auctions follow a similar format to standard live auctions. However, instead of auctioning off items, you’ll be auctioning off the skills and talents of the youth at your church!

For example, the young members of your congregation can offer services such as babysitting, petsitting, lawn care, heavy lifting—whatever they’re willing and able to provide.

Not only are youth auctions easier and more cost-effective to pull off (after all, you won’t have to find the volunteers or expend the time and resources procuring auction items), but they’re also more reflective of church values.

Instead of auctioning off mere material items, you’ll be emphasizing the importance of selflessness and hard work while bringing your community closer together in the process.

How Do You Pull It Off?

Luckily, this one is easy! You’ll just need a few willing volunteers to offer their services and an auctioneer to run the show.

Don’t forget to advertise the auction during church services leading up to the event. The more congregants that attend, the greater your fundraising potential!

Charity Auctions tip #6: Offer signup parties

What’s The Idea?

Signup parties are unique and exclusive get-togethers that are usually centered around a theme. This idea tends to work best for schools and other locally based groups, since it requires meeting in a central location.

To give a clearer example of what a signup party might look like: if your organization happens to be a school, you might offer a women-only cocktail tasting for 15 PTA moms or a 5th period movie viewing for 20 lucky students who get to skip class!

Signup parties can be incorporated into the auction as an item that people can bid on, or you can sell the opportunity to attend at a flat rate per person.

Just remember to keep it exclusive. You’ll be able to raise more money that way, since supporters will have to fight for their spots!

How Do You Pull It Off?

If you’re planning on offering signup parties at your auction, you’ll likely need to staff a signup chair and committee.

It will be this team’s duty to scope out multiple volunteers who are willing to host signup parties and to help these volunteers structure and plan out their events so that they’re appealing to attendees.

If you plan on selling signup party slots outside of the auction, you can feature them as a fixed-price item on your event website, which can easily be generated from auction software. Of course, you can also opt to set up a booth and sell them at your event, too.

Ultimately, signup parties require a lot of coordination among your auction team and host volunteers. But if you can pull the planning off, they’re a surefire hit among attendees!

With these fundraising ideas, you should have an excellent starting point for planning the most profitable charity auction possible.

We wish you all of the best with your next event!

Adam Weinger
Adam Weinger
Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, the leading provider of tools to nonprofits to help them raise more money from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Connect with Adam via email at adam@doublethedonation.com, or on LinkedIn.

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