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How To Organize an Auction of Promises

How To Organize an Auction of Promises

Fundraising auctions are an incredibly popular and effective way to generate money for nonprofits and make a lasting impact for your cause and community. One huge benefit of charity auctions (in-person, virtual and hybrid) is that they can be seamlessly fitted into other fundraising events such as golf tournaments and school festivals. But why not take this already favored fundraising idea to new heights by hosting an auction of promises and really get your organization noticed? 

Take a look at our easy-to-follow guide on what an auction of promises is, how to host one successfully and our top tips on which auction promises work best to smash your fundraising goals. 

What Is an Auction of Promises?

With a typical charity auction, donors bid on tangible items until the highest bid wins. An auction of promises differs as instead of goods, donors bid on a range of services, skills, and donated time as prizes. Here are some typical examples of what promises could be on offer at an auction of promises fundraiser:

  • Baby-sitting services
  • Yard and gardening help
  • Dog walking or dog sitting
  • Cooking meals or baking
  • Grocery shopping
  • Use of a holiday home
  • Car or window washing
  • Home tutoring
  • House cleaning or decluttering
  • Running general errands

Your imagination is really the only limit to how long this list of auction promises can be. Many people are keen to get involved in an auction of promises for two main reasons: firstly it’s great fun but secondly, everyone always has something to contribute whether it’s fixing shelves, washing dishes for a couple of days, or ironing shirts. It’s a novel way to get into the community spirit and for people to share ideas and spend time helping out while generating valuable revenue for a nonprofit’s cause.

Don’t forget to include local businesses in your auction of promises. If you have local cafes, hairdressers, or cycling shops willing to participate, they can offer in-kind donations such as a free haircut, a meal, or even a bike rental as a promise. In this way, they are helping a great cause and producing free marketing for their services which can bring in new clients.

If you are unsure about how to approach local businesses for donations as promises, check out our fundraising donation prize letter template here.

How To Plan an Auction of Promises

The great news is that planning and running an auction of promises is basically the same as organizing a traditional fundraising auction.

How To Plan an Auction of Promises

Just follow our 10 simple planning steps to make your auction of promises fundraiser run smoothly, have a great time doing it, and create an unforgettable charity event.

  1. Gather a planning committee to create a solid roadmap of your goals and how to get there.
  2. In your fundraising team, find a venue. This could be a physical location such as a school/town hall or community center or another option is to host a virtual auction of promises.
  3. Set a time for your fundraiser and give people plenty of notice. Send updates to your participants if any changes occur.
  4. Ask as many friends, family members, and colleagues to volunteer promises, skills, and chores.
  5. Promote your auction of promises as much as possible. Do this through social media posts, your personal fundraising page, and direct emails.
  6. Maybe get a group or individuals to donate their time to provide entertainment for your donors to make it a memorable day and get them in the mood to donate generously.  
  7. For live events, make sure you have enough staff and volunteers on hand as they will be needed to collect and record bids on a tracking sheet or through electronic bidding. Collecting all the donations that night is crucial, as you don’t want to lose any contributions amongst the hustle and bustle. Even better, be sure to streamline things by setting one date when all of the promises will be performed, so as to not have any confusion after the auction of promises is completed
  8. If you are hosting a virtual or hybrid auction of promises, your guests can have the option to donate by texting and mobile giving directly from their cell phones or any device.  Our fundraising auction software tools make this really easy.
  9. Close on a high note. Always inform your donors of how much you raised at the end of your auction of promises fundraiser. If you met or exceeded your fundraising goal, be sure to share and celebrate this information with your guests. If you fell a bit short of the goal, don’t forget to tell your supporters that the bidding will stay open for another 24 hours, so they still have a chance to reach the target.  
  10. Don’t forget to thank all of your donors personally through emails, text messages, and social media posts and inform them about the impact they made for your nonprofit’s cause.

See our comprehensive fundraising event planning guide for more useful tips.

Unique Ideas to Make a Great Auction of Promises

If you want to smash your fundraising goals and get your donors excited about the prizes they’re bidding for, take a look at our unique ideas for promises at your nonprofit’s charity auction.

Ideas to Make a Great Auction of Promises
  • For budding reporters, how about a day out with a local journalist to learn about your local area.
  • Business consultancy courses
  • Personal training sessions
  • Classes and conferences for individuals with experts and influencers
  • A round of golf
  • Decorating a wedding, birthday party or baby shower
  • A family portrait
  • A getaway at a donors weekend country/beach residence

Pro Tips For a Successful Auction of Promises Fundraiser

  • Pick a captivating cause to raise funds for. By knowing your audience well, you’ll be able to decide on an impactful, profitable auction of promise idea.
  • Hand out or post a clear and simple timeline and agenda for the auction of promise participants to follow along. If they arrive late to the fundraising event they will be able to see where you are and what’s coming next.
  • Use gamification tools such as fundraising thermometers to motivate and visually remind your donors of how close you are to reaching the fundraising goal.
  • Live stream your nonprofit’s charity event to increase your outreach and awareness.
  • Make sure to get a professional and charismatic auctioneer to help with your auction of promises fundraiser. This is vital to getting the bidders excited, motivated, and willing to give generously. Your auctioneer or MC needs to engage your crowd of supporters from the get-go. They will have about 2 minutes to pump up the audience, give brief and clear instructions on how to make a contribution and where the money will go. Focus on the ultimate fundraising goal of the event and the powerful impact everyone can have together.
  • Keep thanking your donors when you’re receiving contributions. Don’t forget to make a point of paying public gratitude to top donors.

Wrapping Up the Auction of Promises

Create an unforgettable experience for your donors and community, and make a huge impact by organizing an auction of promises fundraiser. It’s the perfect opportunity to come together for a good cause after such a long period of uncertainty and for many who have been isolated from friends and family. Enjoy the variety of promises that are offered at such a fundraising event and the feel-good factor of contributing in such a selfless manner to make positive changes.

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Lisa Bennett

About Lisa Bennett

Lisa is the Sales Director at DoJiggy. She joined DoJiggy in 2006 and loves her job. Prior to working with DoJiggy, she worked at several non-profits and managed special event fundraising.

See other posts from Lisa Bennett