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Running a Fundraising Auction- if I could do it, so can you

Having run the hugely successful ‘Hope for Lizzy’ campaign, mum Kathy wanted to help other fundraising families, to give them the best top tips and advice on how to run a successful auction! Take a look at Kathy’s words of wisdom below!

 

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO RUN AN AUCTION?

For a number of reasons. We had a 4 month fundraising campaign (short is good), and I felt like it would be a good finale. I think the key to a successful fundraising campaign is to keep a ‘buzz’ going over a period of time, which this did. I also felt more comfortable asking people to give, if they got something in return, and it was quite fun, people enjoyed taking part in an auction.

 

WHAT PRIZES/ LOTS DID YOU HAVE?

I spent about 4 weeks gathering about 60 ‘lots’. These included among others: salon haircut, week in a Spanish villa, meal out, toiletries gift set, patio jet wash, swimming and gym pass, cuddly toy, meal delivery box, Biden voucher, signed Man Utd photo, Windsor Castle entry tickets, spa day.

 

HOW DID YOU ACQUIRE THEM?

We basically approached lots of local and national organisations and companies to explain our fundraising campaign and ask if they would donate a prize, as well as asking family and friends. We did stipulate that items had to be new (some people tried to give us their old junk!). We found that local organisations who we had a link with worked best. We also got LOTS of rejections. We discovered that many big organisations have their own charity foundations and don’t give to individuals, which was frustrating, The following worked well: As a family we support Man Utd and they gave a signed photo, a work colleague donated a week in their parents Spanish villa, friends donated unwanted Christmas gifts and vouchers, NEXT donated some items, my regular gym donated a spa day, a neighbours golf club donated a round of golf for 4, local children’s tourist attractions gave entry passes, a local window company who we had used gave a meal for 2. It was so exciting seeing donations come in. We set up a specific email address to ask for donations.

There are some organisations who provide ‘charity prizes’ eg hotel stay, but a high significant percentage of the donation goes to this organisation, and not to you, so we decided not to use these types of prizes.

 

HOW DID YOU RUN THE AUCTION?

We used an on line ‘silent’ auction platform called Jumble bee who we found to be excellent. They charge 5% of money raised which we felt was fair as their website was excellent and easy to use. It meant the auction could run on line for 2 weeks, with no effort from us, allowing people to bid. It was fun and created a buzz as family and friends enjoyed out bidding each other. Jumble bee can also manage the payments if you choose. It seemed to attract bidders who had previously not been engaging in fundraising, and also allowed our fundraising supporters an opportunity to be involved in both donating lots and bidding.

 

HOW MUCH DID YOU RAISE?

Approximately £2000. But it also led to people hearing about the fundraising campaign who gave separately.

 

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON THE MINIMUM BID VALUE?

I confess that I found it difficult to know what value to set as a minimum bid for each item. After some trial and error I decided to set minimum bids for 50-75% of the market value and most things sold for 75-100% of market value. I think that you have to accept that you may not get full market value for everything, people like to feel that they have got a bargain. But as all monies raised (less 5%) were coming into the fundraising account I felt this worked for everyone. I found that if minimum bid price was set too high it seemed to put people off bidding.

 

ANY FINAL TIPS?

  • Go for it. It took a bit of organising, but was very do-able and we found people were very engaged in it.
  • Think creatively about where to get prizes from. The Internet has lots of ideas. I also encouraged companies that their ‘generosity’ would be viewed by approx 500 people who followed the fundraising face book page, so it was like advertising for them.
  • Run it for a short period. 2 weeks felt about right, it would have been difficult to have sustained a ‘buzz’ for longer.
  • Advertise it everywhere, on face book, at work, do flyers for neighbours, message everyone you know.
  • We ran ours in February, meaning we could ask for unwanted Christmas gifts and it livened up a dreary month.
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