Charity auctions have been a popular staple of event fundraising for decades, and for good reason—they work!
However, in order for your auction to attract the most supporters and bring in as many funds as possible, it’s important to give it a modern twist.
One relatively easy and cost-effective way to do this is by adding a Social aspect to your auction.
Using your social media sites, your organization can gain more visibility, get your donors more engaged with your event, and thus, plan a more lucrative auction.
The problem is that Social Media is still a new frontier for many nonprofits. Many organizations aren’t experienced in social media and haven’t yet grasped how they can use social media to elevate their event fundraising.
That’s why we’re here to eliminate some of the uncertainty! In this article, we’ll outline 5 ways you can make your auction social, including:
- Create a Pinterest board for item ideas.
- Promote your auction over social media.
- Precede your auction with a peer-to-peer campaign.
- Tweet your auction.
- Live stream your auction using Snapchat.
Now let’s get social!
1. Create a Pinterest board for item ideas.
One of the most crucial steps of the charity auction planning process is procuring auction items.
After all, most of the proceeds from your event will come from selling auction items to the supporters who place the highest bids!
Most organizations handle the item procurement process by putting together a team of volunteers and/or staff members whose sole duty it is to solicit item donations for the event.
For the process to be as smooth and successful as possible, it’s important that everyone is on the same page about which types of items to scope out. However, as all nonprofits know, it can be difficult to keep teams organized.
You can solve this problem and give the planning process a fun social twist by creating a collaborative Pinterest board where your team can share item ideas.
For this strategy to work, you’ll need to:
- Create your board (remember to include the name of your auction in the title!).
- Ensure that all of your team members have Pinterest accounts and assist any team members who might need help creating one.
- Invite your team to your board.
- Encourage plenty of sharing!
You can approach this strategy in one of two ways:
- Use your board as a platform for sharing ideas. Your board can simply be a collaborative space where your organization and procurement team members can air creative ideas to help inspire the item solicitation process. If you go this route, you can share the link to your board with potential item donors to give them a better idea of which types of items you’d like to feature at your auction.
- Use your board to keep track of items. Consequently, you can have your team members pin photos of the items they’ve procured once they’ve scored a donation. This should help everyone keep track of which items have already been procured to reduce duplicates. Having a centralized, comprehensive list of items to draw off of will also make setting up your auction software easier.
And if you need some item ideas to help start you off, check out BidPal’s list of 115 ideas.
The takeaway: Creating a Pinterest board is a unique and creative way to encourage collaboration among your team and stay on top of the procurement process.
2. Promote your auction over social media.
Of course, one of the most straightforward ways to make your auction social is by promoting your event over social media.
In this section, we’ll walk you through two ways you can do just that!
i. Create an event site.
One of the most effective ways to promote your auction is by setting up an event site.
These sites allow you to share general information about your event and list descriptions and photos of items, which should incentivize more supporters to attend.
The easiest way to set up an event site is by using auction and event planning software. With this software, you can record all item and event data, then use it to populate a site. Make sure to find a platform that allows you to customize your site to your auction.
With most platforms, you can place social sharing buttons directly on your site, making it easy for your organization to start sharing your event and items on all of your social media pages!
You should also encourage your supporters to use the social sharing buttons. They can share information about your event and/or the items they’re watching with their networks.
This strategy is an excellent way to reach new supporters and bring your auction even more visibility!
ii. Make a Facebook event page.
Another way to reach prospective auction attendees and market your event over social media is to create a Facebook event page.
To create an event page that’s sure to entice supporters to attend, you should:
- Upload an eye-catching cover photo that reflects the feel of your event.
- Use the venue name (if it’s recognizable) instead of typing out the full address.
- Include a brief but specific description of your organization, cause, and where you’re allocating proceeds.
- Put the link to your event site in the description.
- Set the privacy setting to public, so everyone can see your event.
- Leave comments open to provide you with more opportunities to communicate with your supporters.
Once your page is all set up, you can start inviting supporters that live in your area. Tell them to bring their friends!
The takeaway: Set up an event site with social sharing buttons and create an event Facebook page to promote your charity auction to supporters who prefer interacting with your organization over social media.
3. Precede your auction with a peer-to-peer campaign.
One of the most popular social media fundraising strategies nowadays is peer-to-peer fundraising.
Peer-to-peer fundraising mobilizes a nonprofit’s most loyal supporters or volunteers to fundraise on the organization’s behalf. Donors-turned-fundraisers each create personalized fundraising pages and share them with their networks over social media to help the organization reach a fundraising goal. These campaigns are an excellent way to engage existing donors and acquire plenty of new ones!
Peer-to-peer campaigns are often concluded by events, so consider hosting one before your auction to raise even more money.
Here’s how it works: your nonprofit will first have to enlist the help of peer-to-peer fundraising software.
These platforms will allow you to create individualized donation pages for all of your fundraisers, as well as a main campaign page. Your fundraisers’ pages are linked to the main page, so all of the donations they collect will automatically flow into the overall campaign.
While your fundraisers will be doing most of the work for you, you’ll still want to actively engage them throughout the campaign and provide them with plenty of support.
For example, you could:
- Share campaign updates.
- Acknowledge fundraisers that have gone above and beyond.
- Help any fundraisers who need some extra assistance in reaching their goals.
- Like, comment on, or share fundraisers’ posts.
The list goes on, but the important point is that peer-to-peer campaigns provide you with a wealth of opportunities to build deeper relationships with your existing donors. Take advantage of them!
Your peer-to-peer campaign will end on the day of your auction. Remember to invite all of the fundraisers who participated and to acknowledge their hard work during your event.
The takeaway: Peer-to-peer campaigns combine social media and events. Give your auction a social twist by running one in the months leading up to your event!
4. Tweet your auction.
There are a few ways to make your auction more social on the night of your event, too!
One of the best social media sites to use is Twitter. You can create a hashtag and live tweet your event to engage supporters near and far.
You’ll want to create a unique hashtag well in advance of your auction and share it with supporters in your outreach leading up to the event, so they can include it every time they reference your auction.
During the night of your auction, encourage attendees to live tweet their experiences, using your hashtag. If a lot of your supporters join in, your event might even go viral!
Keep in mind that if you’re running a silent auction with mobile bidding (a tool that enables supporters to browse and bid on items directly from their phones), the service should have built-in social sharing buttons. Attendees can share their ticket purchases, bids, and donations with just the click of a button.
You can live stream supporters’ tweets on a projector at your auction to provide your organization with another outlet for engaging guests (BidPal’s software even comes with a Twitter scoreboard feature!).
Your guests are sure to feel special when they see their words and experiences displayed on the big screen!
This strategy is great for connecting with supporters who couldn’t make it to your auction, too. When they read live Tweets about your auction, it will (almost) be like they were there themselves!
The takeaway: Having attendees live tweet your charity auction will engage both supporters at your event and those who couldn’t attend.
Bonus: Check out this SocialFish article to learn how your nonprofit can use Twitter like a pro.
5. Live stream your auction using Snapchat.
Not a fan of Twitter or just want to add another social element to your auction? You can also use Snapchat!
To pull this strategy off, you should share the fact that you’ll be using Snapchat at your event ahead of time.
In outreach about your auction, encourage your guests to add you as a friend and briefly walk them through how they can use Snapchat on the night of your event.
You should also tell supporters who can’t attend that your organization will be live streaming the auction and that they can tune in to Snapchat to watch!
The night of the auction, assign one of your staff members to be the content curator. It will be their responsibility to:
- Take footage of your auction.
- Encourage guests to snap photos and record videos.
- Curate guests’ snaps to feature in your Snapchat story.
Using Snapchat is yet another way to keep supporters engaged with your event. It’s also a way to capture your supporters’ auction experiences and show them that you value their perspectives.
Not to mention, live streaming your auction enables you to reach supporters who couldn’t attend. When they can view your event in real-time, they can also participate in the fun!
The takeaway: Using Snapchat to live stream your auction allows you to highlight your attendees’ perspectives and engage supporters who couldn’t make it to your auction as well.
For more charity auction tips, check out BidPal’s comprehensive guide!
Joshua Meyer brings over 14 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the Director of Marketing for BidPal. He holds a BA in human services and a master’s in business administration from The George Washington University in Washington, DC. He began his career in the development department at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), where he initially helped launch and complete the organization’s Capital Campaign for a national headquarters building. He later went on to become the Associate Director of Events at HRC, helping to oversee the organization’s Gala Event fundraising program. Currently, as a member of the BidPal sales and marketing team, Joshua manages all of the firm’s marketing efforts. He has a passion for helping to create positive change and loves that his current role allows him to help nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.