One of the greatest fears of any auction organizer is that there will be too few bids and that the items will sell at disappointing prices. Although a community fundraiser is sure to garner interest and draw willing, eager participants, it never hurts to be strategic in how to encourage people to bid. Auctions without a doubt have higher stakes than other forms of fundraising, as you’re relying on participants to spend more money than, for instance, at a chili-making contest. However, there is a variety of ways to make this exciting and energetic event a major success.


  1. Emphasize the Cause

First of all, emphasize the cause to participants long before the auction commences. Put it at the forefront of all announcements, invitations, and advertisements. People are much more likely to be willing to spend their money if it’s an exciting event and is for a sincere cause. There’s no shame in using the emotional appeal of a cause to motivate people’s engagement with the event. It also gives the event more legitimacy for people who are careful with their finances.


  1. Market Items Ahead of Time

When people hear that items will be auctioned off online, that could mean anything to them. It’s hard to be enthusiastic about items if you’re not aware of them or can’t visualize them. In your initial announcements or invitation to participate, make sure you advertise at least a few of the most intriguing items. Get people talking about the items and imagining what other prizes could be in store.


  1. Make It Easy to Bid

It’s fair to assume that, if the bidding process sounds complicated at all, people will shy away from the auction. Especially for those who did not grow up with complex technology, the words “online auction” may sound like more work than it’s worth. This is why it’s vital to make bidding as easy as possible. Make sure the language used in your announcements implies that it’s uncomplicated, and offer assistance to those with any issues or questions related to the application. Sites like Cause4Auction are incredibly simple to use but don’t hesitate to provide easy-to-follow instructions for how to access it and use it to bid on items.


  1. Include a Range of Items

Ensuring that you have a wide range of items will also draw in participants. It’s key to have enough items to assure bidders that they have a chance at winning, but not so many items that bidders don’t feel the pressure to compete. It’s also a great idea to have a range of big-ticket items and smaller items to allow people of all socio-economic statuses to participate and to offer differing chances at winning.


Auctions are only as successful as the level of participation, so don’t underestimate the importance of a high rate of bidders. However, there’s no reason to stress about getting your community involved when you think smartly about how to motivate and engage bidders.