Dr Steve Francis shares his top five tips to running a successful online fundraising auction to grow your donation revenue.

Dr Steve Francis shares his top five tips to running successful online fundraising auctions to grow your donation revenue.


online fundraising auctionsWhile online auction platforms such as eBay, Gumtree and Grays Online are thriving in the commercial marketplace, it seems online fundraising auctions in Australia still have a long way to go.

Our global data indicates that auction fundraising is booming in North America in the not-for-profit sector and has been for 10 years. Fundraising via auctions offers an excellent opportunity to grow donation revenue through an additional fundraising channel.

So who benefits most from online fundraising auction platforms? Of course, auctions and raffles have been a popular part of the fundraising landscape for charities, schools and sporting clubs for many years.

With the advent of online auctions, however, these local events can gain reach far beyond the immediate local community. Platforms such as Bidding for Good by FrontStream work hand in hand with big fundraising events such as gala balls, golf tournaments and other sport-based  fundraising events. Hosting fundraising auctions online at these events means your bidders don’t need to be in the room, and they don’t need to wait for the  big night to start bidding on that special item they really want. Big events are supposed to be a lot of fun, so hosting your auction online gives guests more flexibility to enjoy your hospitality and feel good about the cause.

Consider this: there is an entire engaged community of auction bidders registered on  our platform already. These people are looking to bid on items without knowing anything about your event or cause. This is the potential of a good online auction fundraising platform and it’s also how we have helped charities and other not-for-profits raise more than $300 million dollars in total for their causes.

Using the right tools to raise funds for your mission can make a substantial difference to your fundraising total. We know this because for over 10 years Bidding for Good has been the biggest online fundraising auction platform in the world.

We have learned a lot over the years and here we share our knowledge to help anyone thinking about hosting an online auction campaign to nail their event:

1 Give yourself enough time

Build your auction procurement team and start planning at least three months in advance. Building an attractive, diverse and high-value auction catalogue can take that long.

2 Set a dollar goal

Setting a financial goal for your auction is more important than you would think. Use the formula: value of goods equals two times what you hope to raise in your auction. Remember, many items will sell for face value – like gift vouchers – but most sell for less than their retail value.

3 Brainstorm the items

If you have run an auction in the past, review what worked and what didn’t. What sold best? What raised the most money? What got the most bids or was most talked about? Include unique items such as those with special appeal.

4 Track everything

It’s so important to know where you stand with your efforts, all the time. This will ensure you are on target and on time with no last-minute panic to find enough items to reach your goal

5 Thank everyone

Obviously, it’s important to thank everyone who donates goods and services or agrees to be a sponsor. But make sure you thank them when they take your call, answer your email or give you their time for a one-to-one meeting. Then thank them again when you acknowledge receipt of an item.

These top five online auction tips are a pathway to success for fundraisers. It’s an exciting time of change and evolution in fundraising. Digital platforms are making it easier to reach more people, raise more money and still have a good time in the process. Why not consider adding online auctions to your suite of fundraising campaigns? It could open the virtual door to a whole new donor base
and revenue stream. Happy bidding!


Dr Steve Francis

Steve is Managing Director Asia Pacific at the online fundraising provider FrontStream. He has a PhD in Anthropology, 20 years’ experience working in not-for-profits and for-profits, and a passion for growing businesses that do social good.


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