How to Host a Virtual Auction

Part of our Virtual Fundraising Event and Gala series, view more articles here – Virtual Fundraising Events

Suddenly we find ourselves facing a new fundraising landscape.

It’s a time of uncertainty with no clear path going forward, and fundraisers everywhere are concerned about the effects this will ultimately have on their events and relationships with their sponsors and donors.

Greater Giving has partnered with The AV Department, Swaim Strategies, and Artisan Auctions to offer a creative solution that can help.

The Virtual Auction Option

Different situations may call for different solutions, but one thing remains the same; your committed donors want to see your mission succeed. Transitioning to a virtual auction can be the solution you’ve been looking for. It is conducted completely online, is safe for your community, and delivers the entertainment your guests expect from a live auction. It is designed to provide a profitable fundraising event without the need for a large team of volunteers. It will also strengthen your relationships with your sponsors and provide a fun and unique experience for your donor community.

  Find out more about  virtual auctions with the video “How to Host a Virtual Auction” on YouTube. It’s an easy way to gather people together in their own homes to reach the fundraising goals you’ve set for your live event, and the best thing is that Greater Giving has the ability built right into its software.

Prior to the Virtual Auction

If you decide to switch to a virtual auction, communication will be key. Communicate with your donors about your virtual event through social media, email drops and, for those special donors, you could even make a personal call. Prepare them for the program by giving instructions on how and where to join and the general information about how they can participate. Invite them to commit to giving prior to the event and give them a taste of what they can win during the virtual auction.

Data Collection

Collecting accurate, up-to-date donor information is typically done during online registration and at event night check-in by your team of volunteers. With a virtual auction, that is now left to your attendees. They are able to take more time to provide key bits of information that may not be captured during a live event.

The Virtual Fundraising Event Format

With an online fundraising auction tool you’ll be able to present your program in a way that is similar to the program you’ve put together for your in-person event. Your donor community gathers together virtually to cheer, chat, and give. You present a dynamic video message that tells the story of your nonprofit and the storyteller makes the appeal at its conclusion. The video should include your messaging, logo, and the visual evidence that proves your work is important. An easy “click” button prominently displayed on your website will make it easy for your guests to give throughout entire program. You can even shine the spotlight on your sponsors by including their branding in the message.

This YouTube video lays out the formatting so you won’t miss a beat when it comes to making your fundraiser an event the donors’ whole family can enjoy. Keep to the point, so your audience doesn’t lose interest and drift away.

Continue to Engage the Audience

Connecting with your audience and getting a sense of the way your auction is being received is a huge advantage during a live fundraising event, but there are ways to connect virtually as well. Tools that can directly engage the audience and invite them to participate will help you gauge how the event is being perceived. We’ve included a live-streaming chat room in our tool so they can have discussions with each other, and you can respond to questions and cheer them on during throughout the auction. It is also an easy way for them to get immediate help with any technical issues they may have. Only one quick typing volunteer can speak to the entire group.

Keep a real-time running total visible to challenge your donors to help you meet your benchmark goals and remind people how to bid and when the auction will come to a close. The chat can be a fun way to challenge or encourage more donations to reach your fundraising goals.

Don’t Forget the Entertainment

Don’t leave out the fun program events! Invite a performer or a celebrity connected to your nonprofit to email a video appeal for a specific Fund-a-Need moment. You could also set up a time during the program for an intriguing guest to conduct a live video chat with the host for a more personal experience. It could be someone from your team, a respected influencer, or someone your nonprofit has helped who can provide a personal story.

Sponsor Relationships

Proving to your sponsors that you are committed to going forward with your fundraiser and making it successful is key to keeping those relationships on solid footing for the future. By being flexible in this difficult time and providing a place for them to shine during your virtual auction, you’ll demonstrate that you take their participation seriously and value their contributions. In the end, you may find that your sponsor relationships will grow deeper and extend beyond the current boundaries.

Your fundraising doesn’t have to be waylaid by this recent, necessary move to a virtual event. Rely on tools that will transfer your program and message to an online event and the funding you’ve been working so hard for already will come through online donations and a more committed community.

Here is a recent article that will help when making the decision to hold a virtual event or not.

Making the Decision: Carry On, Reschedule or Go Online?


One Response to “How to Host a Virtual Auction”

  1. Due to Covid-19 our college scholarship fundraiser was cancelled for 2020 and 2021. National Women of Achievement is interested in trying an online silent auction. With no experience with online fundraising, your assistance will be greatly appreciated. Awaiting a reply .Thank you, Jacqueline Allong.


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