The Hottest Items to Procure for Online Auctions

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

Online auctions have opened the door to an effective way for nonprofits to fundraise across virtual and real borders.

With software tools that can both manage and process the auctions, auction item contributors and sponsors are fairly represented and donors can safely explore and bid on their favorite choices. This is great news when flexibility is called for, but there are a few inherent differences that can keep you from reaching your goals.

The length of the online event, your audience’s demographics, and the fundraiser’s primary theme are all elements that should be considered when you go after the contributions that will fill your auction with desirable items.

We’ve collected a list of the most desirable online auction items to procure for your next online auction.

The Classics

  1. Memorabilia

    Whether it’s from the world of sports, movie and television, or a historical item, catching the attention of people who already are on the lookout for great items to add to their collections always brings high bids. Make sure to note what makes the items’ significance in the description.

  2. Gift Baskets

    People love receiving a collection of their favorite things! Put together a basket of products and list all the items included. You can support local business with a Local Products Sampler or create fun theme baskets; such as Beach Party, Sweet Treats, or Backyard Camping Baskets.

  3. Event Tickets

    Supporting local events is a great way to draw in new bidders while helping to fill the seats of your favorite venues. Concert halls, fairgrounds, theaters, and sporting events will entice a broad range of bidders.

  4. Wine

    Wine aficionados love to try new vintages. Of course, legal issues come into play with online liquor sales, so check with your state licensing offices for guidelines on how to present and distribute the prize to the winning bidder.

  5. Artwork

    Local artists are great nonprofit supporters. Including their art in your online auction will help them gain exposure and offer your donors an opportunity to bring beauty into their home or office.

The Showstoppers

Looking for more ideas to improve your online fundraising? Check out our Virtual Fundraising Events page. You will find tips and advice that will help you produce an effective online fundraiser.
  1. Travel Packages

    Give your bidders a way to escape with vacation packages that will take them near and far. Local stays will open the doors to new experiences they can enjoy anytime and give you a chance to meet potential sponsors.

  2. Exciting Experience Offerings

    A sensory experience can solidify a memory like nothing else can. That’s why experiences, such as fine dining or a wine tasting experience at a vineyard, oftentimes will bring in multiple bids.

  3. Meet a Celebrity

    Who doesn’t love a brush with a celebrity? The good news is that many celebrities love bringing attention to good causes, too. Adding a celebrity meet-n-greet to your online auction table gives them a chance to connect with the public and show they support a common cause.

  4. Professional Lessons

    Getting a big bang for their donation buck can come through the purchase of time spent with a professional who can help them hone the skill or craft they want to improve. Pro golf lessons are a favorite, but you can think outside the box to include a skilled artisan or an artist or musician who can get the bidder to the next level of their favorite hobby.

  5. Retreat Packages

    A retreat package is sure to entice those bidders who want a deeper dive into their interest. Yoga retreats, fishing expeditions, spa weekends; there are many options available.


  1. Streaming Services

    Gift cards for streaming services provide an opening for bidders with modest budgets to be able to contribute. The choices are endless so you can choose a variety that will give your auction a nice balance.

  2. Tech Toys

    Fun and flashy, or practical and needed; technology gadgets and services that can be delivered via the internet are perfect for the bidders of an online auction. And, with the continued innovation in technology, you will always find new and enticing products to add to your annual charity auction.

  3. Online Classes

    Help someone broaden their minds while at the same time supporting their favorite causes. Approach your local community college or university and community organizations that teach subjects both practical and enriching.

  4. Professional Services

    Thanks to the internet, accessing professional services is easier than it has ever been. This means your bidder can receive counseling, financial or legal advice, personal training, and mentoring from the comfort of their own home.

  5. Gift Cards

    Go local or go big! Gift cards can be adjusted to any price level and are found in nearly every type of retail store, making them a versatile and desirable auction item. Choose a variety of restaurants, businesses, and services with several different values.

Perfect Items for Kids

  1. Book Readings

    Promote a learning opportunity by offering an online book reading to a local school. Your procurement team can approach your local librarian or an author who is promoting a new book.

  2. Sign-up Parties

    There are lots of outdoor play spaces that would have socially distanced party places ready for a special event, and plenty of parents who need to plan the “best birthday ever!” Find the best spots and a few new places for kids to have fun.

  3. Out of the Ordinary Experiences

    Hot air balloon rides, horseback trail rides, spending the night in a zoo—when it comes to making beautiful family memories, the skies the limit! Have your team brainstorm to find the most unusual and sought-after experiences in your area.

  4. The Best in Town

    Create your own top ten list for a great family package. The theme could be the best cupcakes or cookies in town, or go for broke and create a top ten gift card list of the best burgers or pizza in town.

  5. Family Photoshoot

    Capture the best of your family in a professional photoshoot. Many photographers will offer location shoots, so bidders can choose to have the photo taken in their home or at a beautiful outdoor area. Ask about the packages offered and consider choosing more than one to include in your auction.

Unique Auction Items

  1. Garden Help

    Donors with a green thumb will be eager to bid on items that will help them in their gardens. A service that designs and builds gardens, gift certificates to a garden center, or a gift basket that includes hand tools and seeds are great options that will fit everyone’s budget.

  2. City Tours

    Stories abound in the streets of your city! Work with a reputable tour operator to find a tour that would appeal to your bidders. Common options are architectural tours, historical tours, and outdoor art tours.

  3. Backyard Party Package

    Dress up your backyard and host a party with tables 6 feet apart! Event planners can offer a basic package for a birthday party or wedding, or you can choose a fun theme; like a luau or tailgating party.

  4. Home Services

    There’s always something that needs to be done when you own a home. Offering services like holiday decorating, lawn services, home repairs, or tech upgrades can be very enticing to those bidders who don’t have the time, tools, or skills to complete those tasks.

  5. Oil Changes for a Year

    Help the bidders check one task off their “honey-do” list by offering free oil changes for an entire year. Go to the premier mechanic in your town so your bidders will be confident in the work and you may help the garage get a new recurring client.

Easy Auction Items

  1. A “Day in the Life” Experience

    Daydreaming about another person’s life is an activity that everyone indulges in from time-to-time. Offering the opportunity to dive into the reality of a different career of activity will let bidders find out for themselves what goes on behind closed doors.

  2. Office Perks

    Sometimes the easiest items to procure are also the easiest to sell. Find items within your own sphere that your own team will be excited to bid on, like the best parking space, a catered lunch for a team, a visit to the field to see how their work is helping others.

  3. Pet Service

    A cute puppy or a fancy cat is irresistible to pet lovers. Give animal lovers a reason to bid with pet care products and services and encourage them to share a photo of the results for you to use at next year’s auction.

  4. Name Dedication

    Honoring a loved one or memorializing your family name on a project that will last for decades is a nice option for those bidders who have everything or are unable to join in on the fun activities that are up for bid.

  5. Merchandise

    Support your local business with merchandise from our procurement team’s favorite stores. This is a great way to add a range of products and value to your auction.

Your online auction can be filled with a variety of items that will fit a range of interests and budgets. Scale down the number of items to make it easier for your bidders to navigate and keep the auction lively with a chatbox discussion that will get the energy up and you’ll find you can meet your fundraising goal.

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