Why nonprofits should be holding online auctions

There are several ways to raise money for nonprofits, but perhaps none is more simple and potentially lucrative than an online charity auction.

Goodwill is a longstanding nonprofit with over 2,500 locations nationwide. While the organization is popular for its retail stores in which it resells donated items, charity auctions are still a big part of its fundraising model. For instance, in a small Goodwill location in Tacoma, Wash., a particularly charitable contributor, who chose to remain anonymous, donated an original drawing from renowned Spanish artist Salvador Dali. The store recognized the significance of the piece and decided to offer it as an item in its online auction.

On Nov. 6, 2012, the Dali drawing, entitled "Reflection," was posted to the auction at a baseline price of $999, according to the Nonprofit Times. Five days later it sold for a little over $21,000. Within six months, the Tacoma Goodwill experienced a 17 percent increase in online sales.

Obviously, this is an extreme example to showcase how charity auctions can lead to financial success, but even in more typical events, nonprofits can still benefit.

Bigger audience
No matter how big your location is, the number of participants who can attend a live auction will always be finite. What's more, the demographics are likely to be limited to people who regularly attend such events.

There are large portions of the population who don't often attend auctions for a variety of reasons, like maybe they can't afford big ticket items or they're just unaware. Either way, online auctions offer potential donors who may not  have otherwise attended a similar event a means to contribute. Additionally, there are no limits on space. So too little or too many attendants is never a problem.

Immediate access to funds
Through online payment processing services, credit or debit card payments, or donations in this case, for items will be electronically removed and made available for the respective organization in real-time. 

Additionally, the option to donate for higher priced items via credit card will be enticing for some contributors who'll appreciate being able to pay for it later. It'll help make people feel comfortable about spending more.

Space and logistics? No problem
Alluded to above, online auctions remove the logistical and financial hassles of finding, securing and preparing a physical space for an indoor auction. In many areas, finding adequate space at a justifiable price is difficult and, in some areas, impossible. Moving auctions online will quickly and effectively increase efficiency and profitability.

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