Some organizations are concerned about how their Live Event Attendees will react to their new online auction. In past years, many of these organizations have held Live Events and Galas and introducing online auctions to the mix can seem daunting. It’s hard to know how people will react. Well, we have some good news for you! A recent survey completed by BiddingForGood shows that 81% of Live Event Attendees also enjoy bidding online. They appreciate the convenience of bidding online and like receiving outbid alerts via email. These features make it much easier for them to stay on top of their bidding.
The survey also found that 82% of Live Event Attendees were not focused on the silent auction. Some of the reasons being they didn’t know when they had been outbid, it was too crowded near the silent auction table, and they were more interested in socializing and enjoying the party. Online bidders, on the other hand, can easily see all the details of items, can bid from a laptop or mobile device and don’t have to push anyone out of the way to bid.
We often get asked whether or not Live Event Attendees will be upset if the auction is opened up to the public. In the past, only the attendees at a live event could bid. The worry is that there might be a backlash from past supporters. Well, we’ve got good news for you there too! Our survey showed that a whopping 95% of Live Event Attendees believe that fundraising auctions should be open to the public online. The bottom line is bidders want to support your nonprofit. They understand that more bids can translate to more dollars raised.
Here at BiddingForGood, we’re insatiably curious about a lot of things. We’re especially intrigued by anything that concerns the fundraising efforts of the schools, nonprofits, and charities that we serve, as well as the generous folks who attend and bid in auctions to support so many of these great causes.
These are some of the questions that keep us up at night:
- How effective are silent auctions? What gets in the way of success?
- Why do bidders attend fundraising events? Are they focused on the auction at all?
- How much are organizations charging for event tickets?
- What types of items are bidders most likely to bid on?
Fortunately, we have big pool of smart people to whom we can ask such questions – not just our school and nonprofit customers (now over 6,700), but also our Bidder Community, which is made up of more than 330,000 affluent, cause-minded consumers who loyally shop across our auctions. So we surveyed both groups, and compiled the results into a new eBook, The State of the Silent Auction. We should be able to sleep at night now, but we’re eager to have you read the eBook and let us know what you think.
You can find out the answers to the burning questions above – and more – by downloading the complimentary eBook here. Please take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
At BiddingForGood, we understand what an integral part of an online auction can be for a live event. We want to help you get people to your live fundraising event and keep all your ticket sales in one place.
In a recent survey, BiddingForGood found that 86% our bidders want to purchase event tickets online. In the past, we have helped our clients take ticket orders through our site via email. However, there were some limitations. We did not collect credit card information with the order. Our clients would then have to follow up with the bidder to get their credit card number and arrange payment for the tickets. If the organization was using our partner Greater Giving or IATS to process payments, they still had to contact the bidder and process the credit cards for ticket sales separately and clients could only offer one price point for their tickets.
So, What's New?
We have taken our ticketing functionality to the next level with "Smart Ticketing." We now ask bidders for their credit card information so they can purchase tickets. We allow clients to create multiple price points for their tickets. For example, individual tickets, tickets for couples, or tables can now be offered. Nonprofits using Greater Giving or IATS can simply process those tickets through our site and don’t have to follow up with bidders for credit card information. For clients using the Secure Credit Card Report, they can now access the bidders’ credit card information for tickets sales from that report and don’t have to follow up with their bidders for payment either.
As part of Smart Ticketing, we have added a Live Event Info button to the homepage. Bidders can click the button to get additional information about the event and buy their tickets. Our clients can include all of their event info there along with the location of the event. This automatically generates a map that links through to Google maps to help bidders find directions. Bidders also need to register online to buy their tickets. So they’ll be all set to start bidding online and they’ll have purchased their tickets.
We have some valuable statistics from our recent survey on how the new ticket functionality (Smart Ticketing) is helping our clients raise more money:
- Our clients sold $162,000 worth of tickets
- The average ticket sold for $65
- As of April 2012, 66 orgs have sold 3,949 tickets generating $297,000 of needed revenue
- The average organization is generating another $4,500 of value off our platform from ticket sales.
If you want to learn more about how to use our new Event Ticket function (Smart Ticketing), email our Client Services Team at email@example.com or call us at 866-621-0394.
If you've run an online auction with us, you know that bidders love to wait until the final days of an auction to place their bids. Many bidders will start bidding right away, but then hang back until the end to bid feverishly. Other bidders will just put watches on the items they are interested in at the start of the auction, so they can receive email notifications when other bidders start bidding on them. They can then jump in and start bidding as they see the bids increasing, so they don't lose out on the item. A bidder may also watch an item that isn't getting any bids and hold off on bidding to see if they can get a great deal. They will still keep waiting until the final day, hour, or minute to bid. So how do we deal with these bidders who like to wait it out?
For years we have seen this bidder behavior over and over again. It's a big part of the reason we stress that you should run your online auction for 10-14 days, so you don't lose your bidders' attention. You should also increase your promotions in your auction's final 48 hours. It's important to send out reminder emails, so that any of your supporters who haven't bid yet don't miss out. When using Facebook or Twitter to promote your auction, don't forget to Tweet about and share your auction and items on Facebook in those final days!
You may also want to consider staggering the close dates and times of your items to help keep your bidders on their toes. You can close groups of items at the same time. You can then send out emails alerting your bidders: "All travel packages close today! Bid now!"
These are some great ways to turn up the heat at the end of the online auction. We have also just started featuring items on our site that are closing soon, to try to capture the attention of these last-minute bidders. And, we have an "Item Closing Soon" button that bidders can click to browse through all the items that are about to close. With these strategies in place, all those bidders who are planning to swoop in and win the item with one bid at the last second will have to duke it out with each other after all. And you - and your auction - reap the benefits!
Over the past few months, we’ve covered a number of strategies that will help your online auction succeed. We’ve covered the best types of items, how to promote your auction effectively, and how to take advantage of our resources. As an Auction Expert, I hear many questions that crop up only on occasion that we haven’t addressed yet. For example, some clients will ask, “Should I keep my auction open for a year?” When you sign up with us, you are given a one year subscription, so it’s a good question. However, there are definitely several reasons why it isn’t an effective fundraising strategy.
1. Bidders will likely lose interest: We’ve found that auctions that are open for longer than 2 weeks tend to have less bid activity. Bidders are likely to lose interest if an auction is running for a long period of time. If a bidder knows they cannot win an item for an entire year, they are much less motivated to start bidding right away. Most bidders want to win an item and receive it as soon as possible. Also, some bidders are shopping for gifts and special occasions that will pass before your auction ends.
2. Promotion becomes challenging: If you are running an auction for two weeks or less, you’ll be sending several emails to announce the auction opening, reminders to bid, and in a final push to encourage bidders to bid in the last couple of days. If your auction is running for a year, it’s difficult to keep up your email blasts without bidders unsubscribing from your email list. Emails that were once informative start to feel like clutter. It becomes harder to maintain an effective promotional campaign.
3. It’s a lot of work for you: Chances are if you’re running an auction for a year, you are also adding items all year long. You probably also have items closing in batches. That means you’ll be processing payments and shipping out items all year. When you’re running an auction for the recommended 10-14 days, you won’t have to devote nearly as much time to charging winners and sending out items.
The natural follow up question becomes: “Should I only run one auction per year?” You can absolutely run more than one! Running more than one auction a year is certainly a great way to maximize your subscription. For example, you could run an auction in conjunction with your Spring Gala and run a Holiday auction. The months between will give your bidders some breathing room, give you a chance to solicit some more terrific items, and a chance to start a new email campaign to get your bidders excited about another auction! If you have items left over after an auction, you can run a Second Chance Auction to give bidders a chance to win again. If you have more questions, you can always reach out to your Auction Expert for help. Not sure who that is? Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Eric Reddy mentioned a wonderful quotation by Goethe in his post earlier this week. I’ve always loved a great quotation myself. I keep many posted in my cubicle at work and at home. One of my favorites is by Van Gogh: “What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything?” I try to keep it in mind when there’s something I truly want to do, but I’m afraid it won’t work out or that I’ll fail.
I don’t doubt that many of you may have that feeling when you’re about to run your first online auction. There’s often a lot at stake and it can be daunting to try to figure out where to start. Luckily, BiddingForGood is here to help you. We have a number of tools available to help you plan, build, promote, and run your online auction.
It is important to remember why you’re doing this and all the possibilities that lay before you. With BiddingForGood, you will have many avenues for success.
- The opportunity for a whole new group of supporters to learn about your organization and help you raise money for your cause. You'll get their email addresses and contact information when they register to bid, so you can keep communicating with them. They may continue to bid on your future auctions and give to your organization year round. They may even remain supporters for years to come!
- The chance to create a new buzz among your community. New endeavors are exciting! The thought of sitting at home and bidding in your pajamas will appeal to just about anyone. Your supporters will have a shot at winning that fabulous trip to Italy even if they can’t make it to the gala this year. They can also bid anonymously and try out new bidding strategies online.
- Most important, your online auction is the beginning of a new and innovative way to raise more money. Not only that, but your supporters will have fun helping you do it! Your bidders can bid with comfort and ease. They can bid anywhere and anytime. You’ve made it that much easier for them to give.
Another of my favorite quotations is by Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Sometimes it’s important to remember that your online auction is its own adventure! Take this opportunity to take a chance at creating a new beginning for your organization. Just imagine the possibilities…
I’ve received many calls from bidders over the years with lots of questions about an item due to important information missing from the description such as:
1. Where are the seats?
2. Can I book my stay anytime I want?
3. Do I have to pay for shipping costs?
4.Does this include airfare?
5. Is there a certificate of authenticity?
Many BiddingForGood bidders won’t bother to seek out the answers. They’ll just look for a different item to bid on. Sometimes they may move on to another auction. We have added the ‘Ask A Seller’ link to each item to allow bidders to submit these questions to you and to help prevent losing bids due to unanswered questions. Even with this feature, you may lose out on bids if you don't have complete descriptions.
So how do you write clear descriptions that will also prompt bidders to bid? Here are some things to consider.
1. What questions need to be answered?
Think about all the possible questions that might arise about an item. Let’s say you’ve got some great tickets for an upcoming concert. Don’t forget to include the date of the concert, the location of the concert, what time it starts, where the seats are located, and if parking is included or not. These may seem like obvious points, but you can’t assume your bidders already know the answers.
2. What can you do to make the item sound more enticing?
Let’s say you have a $100 gift card to a nearby restaurant. Having a description that just reads “$100 Gift card to Restaurant X. Expires 1/1/2013” isn’t very exciting. Why not try something more like:
“Enjoy a marvelous dining experience at a local Italian eatery! Whether it’s a much needed date night with your husband or wife, a meal for the whole family, or a night out with friends you can have a wonderful meal and help our school reach our fundraising goals! It’s good through 1/1/2013, so you’ve got lots of time to plan your outing and make it one to remember!”
3. Are there any special restrictions?
This is one of the most important pieces of information. Blackout dates, expiration dates, and any restrictions should be included in your Item Special Note. Also, if you’re going to charge your bidder for shipping costs, be sure to include that as well. It’s best to be up front and clear on these details from the beginning. Your bidders will appreciate it, and it will help to prevent post auction confusion!
Most importantly, once you’ve written your description, step back and read it as if you were a bidder. Does this description make you want to bid on the item? What isn’t clear? What questions aren’t answered? If you find you don’t have the answers to any of these questions, don’t hesitate to contact the donor for the answers. Make it easy for your bidders to decide to bid now!
When your fiancée is in business school, you’re bound to pick up a few things. For example, Austin’s lack of a casual, upscale Asian restaurant that provides entertainment is not considered a pain point when thinking of new business ideas. When you are in the thick of corporate recruiting season, things like laws of the road and common courtesies take a back seat to the task at hand…sorry. You know, useful life lessons.
What I’ve actually learned from my fiancée is identifying and understanding your market segment is critical to the success of any sales effort. By putting your auction online, you have opened your items up to the world. Now all you need to do is find items that appeal to people in the world…ambitious. Let’s narrow that down; in the world, there is a segment that knows about your organization and a segment that does not, let’s focus on those who do. (If your potential pool of people was reduced by just under 7 billion people, you did the math correctly).
We’ve just identified your potential bidding pool (which you probably had a sense of without the above train of thought). The segmentation does not stop here. Take into account the people in this pool, ages, genders, geographical locations, income levels, interests, worries, etc. As you think critically about the demographics of your bidders, you will start to come up with some profiles: empty nest baby boomers with discretionary income who are interested in travel and thirty-somethings with three kids under the age of 15 who like inexpensive family activities, etc. These groups are probably interested in different items, right?
This is all great, but what does this mean for you running an online auction?…(these posts generally relate back to that at some point). It’s all about understanding the demographics you are asking to spend money. Typically, your potential donors/bidders can be segmented and this exercise is all worth it because now you can focus your solicitation effort.
Segmenting helps solicitation on two fronts. The obvious front is that when you ultimately secure these targeted items, they will perform well in your auction! The not so obvious (but still helpful) front is in the ask. When you go to a golf course to ask them to donate a foursome/lunch at the clubhouse package, you can say “60% of the people we have access to are affluent retirees that play golf 4-6 times per week.” You’ve done the research and now the golf course has an opportunity to woo four potential new members.
While focus will help you get the most return on your work, the best part about an online auction remains that you never know who will be shopping in it and for what reason. Is Grandpa a big Miley Cyrus fan? Probably not, but will picking up some sold out concert tickets for his granddaughter make him a hero? Likely. However, you start to see the risk there…you know that he (as are his friends at this event) is interested in the golf package but you think he might pick these tickets up for someone else. It is certainly a balancing act. A major factor in putting items that are not a perfect fit for your demographic in your auction is how difficult the item is to obtain. If you happen to be Billy Ray Cyrus (took a while, but I got there) helping out with the auction, you likely have an “in” to those concert tickets. If you are not Billy Ray Cyrus, then they might be more difficult to come by and your efforts would be better spent tracking down items you know will sell because you thought critically about your demographics.
Key Learning: Your approach should be based on whether or not you are Billy Ray Cyrus...so to speak.