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 Home > Fundraise > Guide to Auction Events, Step 1
  • eBay Giving Works Charity Ribbon Guide to Auction Events, Step 1

  • Plan Your Event

  • The first step of any successful auction event involves answering some basic questions. Do this early to make things easier for you later.
  • 1.Plan your event 2. Solicit items to sell 3. List your items for sale 4. Spread the word 5. Wrap it up, ship it, and assess how you did. Plan Your Event Solicit Items to Sell List Your Items for Sale Spread the Word Wrap it Up, Ship it and Assess How You Did
  • What are your goals?

    Before you begin, take some time to decide what you want to achieve with your auction event.
  • Common goals are to:
  • Raise funds
  • Drive awareness of the organization and work
  • Engage long-time supporters
  • Attract new donors
  • This will help you determine the timing, length, and what you want to sell. For instance, if raising funds is your main objective, you may want to solicit for high-ticket items or celebrity experiences.
  • For driving awareness, multiple items could be your ticket. Since each listing includes your logo and mission statement, it’s an effective way to get your brand in front of more people.
  • If your objective is to engage long-time supporters, you may want to create multiple volunteer opportunities for people to donate goods, solicit for goods, list them to eBay, and ship them.
  • To attract new donors, again consider a larger number of items. When following up with buyers, send them a link or provide an opportunity for them to learn more about your work.
  • When do you want to hold your event?

    Do you have an anniversary, major fundraising drive or another offline event coming up? Take advantage of communications that you are already planning and schedule your online event to be in synch.
  • How long will it last?

    eBay’s standard listing lengths are 1, 3, 5, 7 and 10 days. We recommend choosing a 7- or 10-day length for your listings – it gives you plenty of time for marketing and more people will have a chance to bid.
  • If you want your event to last longer than 10 days, consider posting your items in "rounds." Stagger the start times to spread out the event as long as you want.
  • Tip: Events that last more than a few weeks can really lose steam by the end.
  • What are you selling?

    Based on your goals, identify what you want to sell. These can be items you already have in your possession or items you plan to solicit from donors.
  • If you solicit, you may want to collect items that follow a theme or synch up with your mission. For example, Hands on Atlanta listed signed celebrity handprints.
  • Some nonprofits also set a target quantity. A popular range is 25-50 items.
  • How will you handle the work of listing?

    The basics of creating an eBay listing involve:
  • Taking a photo
  • Writing a description
  • Selecting ways buyers can pay you
  • Deciding how you will ship items
  • There may also be questions from buyers during the auction event, and of course someone will need to take care of shipping the items.
  • Additionally, if you have an item you think may go for big bucks, think about a buyer management strategy to minimize the risk of an unpaid item. eBay offers tips for selecting buyer requirements External Link.
  • Can you do this work yourself? Do you have eBay-experienced staff or volunteers who can help? It’s not hard, but planning ahead will make a big difference. You can also outsource this work to a Trading Assistant External Link.
  • What methods of payment will you accept?

    On eBay, the seller decides how winning bidders should pay. You can choose to accept one or several methods of payment.
  • PayPal, eBay’s online payment system, is widely used by both buyers and sellers (most sellers offer PayPal). You might also want to accept:
  • Credit card payments through your own merchant account
  • Money orders
  • Cashier’s checks
  • Personal checks
  • For high value items, be more flexible with your payment options. For less expensive items, you may opt to accept online payments only (like PayPal). Keep in mind that you will pay transaction costs for payment processing.
  • Learn more about selling with PayPal External Link and other payment methods External Link.
  • How will you brand your event?

    Develop a title, short description, and branding for your auction event to help you promote it both on- and offline. Including sponsors, donors or partners in your branding and description can also be a good idea.
  • How will you promote it?

    eBay has millions of buyers, but to guarantee success you’ll need to promote your auction event too.
  • eNewsletter articles, press releases, and blog posts generate interest. Don’t be afraid to get creative - YouTube videos, church bulletin inserts and more can be effective too.


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  • Did You Know?
  • eBay Giving Works items are searchable on eBay, the eBay Giving Works hub page, and your About My Nonprofit page – it's like three listings in one!
  • Success Story
  • Arena StageFor two years, Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.’s largest not-for-profit producing theater, traditionally held an offline auction in conjunction with its annual benefit. In 2005, Arena Stage decided to shake things up a bit and put their auction items on eBay in a separate, unique event. Read the Success Story.
  • Quotes From Our Users
  • African Well Fund"eBay Giving Works has been an invaluable asset for the African Well Fund. We are a grassroots, 'virtual' organization with no brick and mortar headquarters. eBay Giving Works has allowed us to hold online 'virtual' auction events, something that would be impossible for us otherwise. As a result, we have raised thousands of dollars to build water and sanitation projects in Africa." --Diane Yoder, Treasurer, African Well Fund

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