Fundraising auctions and benefit galas take a substantial amount of time and effort to organize. Your nonprofit organization needs to take advantage of every opportunity to encourage great dividends. If you are careful about audience development, which I have discussed in previous blogs, then you have the right people coming to your charity event. The next step is to make sure that those bidders are ready to buy!

A great way to “prime” your donors before the fundraising gala is to advertise the donated auction items to your audience before the event. Many of your attendees will be familiar with charity auctions and will have attended them in the past, so the invitation to your live fundraising auction will make them aware that they are going to be a part of the bidding audience. To better prepare them to bid on the items that you will be selling, you need to pre-market them to your donors.

If bidders receive an advertisement for the larger items that you will be selling several weeks before the auction, it will improve that items potential bidding for a few reasons. Your bidders will get a chance to look over the items and think about owning one or several of them. There may be donated trips that they would like to think about taking or an item they have always wanted. If they decide on an item before the event, you are ensuring that they will attend and bid on it. The more donors that are excited about an item before they get there, the higher that item will go for. Another reason to advertised these items is so that couples can discuss purchases with their spouses before the auction event. If they will be spending thousands of dollars on an auction item, it would be helpful for them to decide that together.

One way to do this is to have your committee choose the best items that have been donated, the ones that will probably bring the greatest dollars. You can highlight these items with nice color pictures in a pre-auction event notice. This promotion can be sent by mail or by email to all your attendees, or just the high-dollar sponsors and corporate donors. The entire auction catalog is mailed out a few weeks before the event for some large nonprofits, although this is not necessarily appropriate for your event. Another perk you can offer your VIP audience (sponsors and corporate donors) is early admission for previewing of silent and live auction items. This gives consideration to your high-dollar spenders and allows them more time to veiw all of the bidding opportunities available.