As your association sets out to secure more non-dues revenue, you may also be looking to host a large event, such as a big conference. Why not bring in extra revenue for your association by adding a silent auction as part of the event?
By hosting a silent auction during your larger event, like a gala or conference, you can both boost your association’s fundraising efforts and offer your members valuable resources that they can bid on. You already work hard to provide valuable events for your members, from securing speakers to organizing a great schedule. But it can be difficult to raise the funds you need to keep doing so.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of ways to secure more revenue through your auction:
Bringing in extra revenue is already a top priority for your association. Let’s take a closer look at how you can do this.
1. Leverage auction software.
Hosting a big event and incorporating an auction component takes planning, organization, and teamwork. But if you invest in the right auction software, you can streamline this entire process.
Auction software can include standard mobile bidding features, registration tools, item procurement tracking, and streamlined checkout procedures. Even more, you can bring in non-dues revenue using this software for activities aside from bidding, such as:
- Donation appeals
Let’s take a more detailed look at each of these.
Use auction software to let your attendees purchase raffle tickets. You can raffle off a variety of prizes like:
- Free classes to contribute to your members’ continuing education.
- Membership perks, such as a free two-year membership or discounted rate for the following year.
- Limited-time mentorships to your members so they can network with like-minded professionals.
Raffles are a great way to get your attendees excited about what your association has to offer and bring in the extra revenue your organization needs for continued growth. Auction software can help you make running your raffle during the auction simple and straightforward.
Raise funds for your association in real-time by making donation appeals throughout the auction. This will encourage your guests to offer their support in ways other than bidding.
You can use your software to:
- Collect mobile donations
- Automate paddle raises
- Create a sense of competitive giving
Boost your revenue by making it easy to give and simple to make your appeals.
If your association has branded merchandise, sell it during your auction! You can leverage auction software to sell custom shirts and other add-on items to secure more revenue and give your association some extra publicity.
In addition to raising revenue, auction software allows you to manage your registration data. Easily capture guest information, process credit cards, and get attendees set up on their mobile phones for the mobile bidding.
2. Auction off valuable resources.
Your members are attending conferences and renewing their memberships with your association for a reason. Associations are valuable networking and educational resources for industry professionals, and you can leverage your auction as another way to provide these.
During your event, aside from offering similar raffle prizes, you can auction off valuable resources that attendees will jump at the chance to claim. We’ve highlighted some of these top ideas below:
Continuing Education Opportunities
Continuing education is a huge reason industry professionals turn to associations. By staying up-to-date on industry news and best practices, they can refine their skills and grow as professionals.
Auction off continuing education programs that can be completed through a learning management system (LMS) or other channel. Your members will thank you and your association will benefit from the revenue it raises.
Workshops and Classes
Aside from online learning and other continuing education opportunities, consider hosting a workshop or class on a topic related to your association’s industry. You can auction off a seat in the class (or a seat in a series of classes!) so that members can make the most of the opportunity and even get a good deal!
Line up a great instructor, keep your members’ skills fresh, and raise more revenue by offering this opportunity at your auction.
Who doesn’t want a discounted conference package? A package can include a multi-day pass to the event and possibly even travel benefits. Auction off a conference package so that members can attend your next big event and build skills to be successful in the field.
Many of your members join your association to grow, learn, and network with other professionals. One way you can meet that expectation is by auctioning off a short-term mentorship.
Tap into your association's network and auction off an opportunity for this type of collaboration. This can include one-on-one sessions with industry thought leaders, video conferences, and other types of interactions.
A mentorship is a great item to auction off because the interaction can be completely virtual, though parts of it can be done in person if the winner lives in the same area as the mentor. This is a great way to get your members excited and engaged with your association, while raising the funds you need to keep your organization going.
As you can see, there are several resources you can auction off during your big event. From online educational courses to packages and mentorships, your association will provide the value your members have come to expect from your association and bring in the non-dues revenue you need. Just be sure to plan far in advance so you have these resources available to auction off.
Aside from these unique resources, there are also more traditional auction items you can include in your event, such as:
- Travel packages
- Event tickets
- Gift baskets
- Museum memberships
Offering a mix of both traditional auction items and items specific to your association’s industry will make your event a valuable resource and experience for your members and guests. Offer them items they’ll be excited about and drive up your revenue as a result.
Looking for even more auction idea ideas to include during your event? Check out this comprehensive list of charity auction item ideas by OneCause.
3. Use data to improve your event.
If you want to make the most of your larger event and the auction, it’s important to leverage data so you can maximize your event’s value and effectiveness. Part of raising more means putting on an event that engages your participants and encourages them to give to your association.
How can you leverage data to do this? Try the following:
- Use your available metrics. Look at the data you have available from your past events: registration data, final attendance numbers, popular speakers, and other metrics to measure how successful your last event was. Use this data to inform the planning process for your next one.
- Send out surveys. Solicit direct feedback from your past events’ attendees to determine what components of the event were well-received, and what areas have room for improvement. Was there not enough parking or food and beverages? Take note of those pieces of feedback and event metrics for the future.
- Leverage your software’s full analytics. According to the OneCause silent auction planning guide, effective auction software automatically records key data about your attendees, which can help improve the donor experience and encourage repeat attendance at your next auction. Leverage your software’s full reporting and analytics tools so you can learn more about your attendees and personalize your interactions with them going forward.
Leveraging your data as a way to improve your attendees’ experience is essential. You’ll be able to look at past items that have sold well at auctions, speakers or special guests that attendees were excited to see, and other metrics that indicate the success of your events. Use this information to plan your future auction and you’ll be on your way to boosting engagement and funds for your association.
There are many ways to secure more revenue for your association through an auction. From leveraging software to streamline your tasks, to using data and auctioning off appealing prizes, you can do a lot to engage your attendees and encourage them to continue supporting you. Try out these strategies for yourself
If you’re looking for more insight into planning an auction, check out this guide.
About the Author:
Joshua Meyer brings more than 14 years of fundraising, volunteer management, and marketing experience to his current role as the director of marketing forOneCause. Currently, as a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Josh manages all of the firm’s marketing efforts. He has a passion for helping to create positive change and loves that his current role allows him to help nonprofits engage new donors and achieve their fundraising goals.