Social media applications like blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook can be useful tools to help you publicize, gain attendees and supporters for fundraisers such as benefit auctions. Not only are these tools free to use, but they enable you to relay short, constant reminders about your  fundraiser.

Creating “something to write” can be overwhelming for some people, so here are 12 auction-related ideas on what you (or your public relations volunteer) can post on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, or other social networking sites to promote your benefit auction.

1. Announce donations: When an auction donation arrives, announce the item, thank the donor, and provide a link back to the donor’s website. Be sure to include a photo, if possible.

2. Ask for a donation to round out a package: “We need a florist to donate a bouquet to complete our Mother’s Day package at our Fabulous Fundraising Auction for Children.”

3. Testimonials: Auction fundraisers should be mission-focused. Keep your supporters updated with successes. For instance, “Peggy is off the streets, thanks to our non-profit,” or “Jeremy credits St. Stephens’s art teacher in giving him the confidence to pursue art in college.”

4. Event Preparations: Share a photo of the decor committee drawing backdrops for the auction, or the Gala Chairs meeting to send out invitations. This shows that others are involved in auction planning and preparing to attend the event.

5. Special announcements: Share news. “In just three weeks, we’ve surpassed 50 raffle ticket sales.”  Or, “Only 200 seats left before our school auction sells-out!”

6. Apply gentle pressure to past auction donors: A post such as, “We sold a lovely 2-night stay at the Fairmont last year, and are hoping they’ll donate again,” might work. Include a link to the hotel, and then contact the hotel so they see how you are treating them kindly – even before they donate.

7. Answer questions: Make the questions up, if you need to. “A new family to our school asked what was appropriate to wear to the benefit auction. Here’s our answer, and we included three photos of past guests.”

8. Create a list: You can create a list on almost anything. “Top 5 Reasons to Attend our Auction Fundraiser.”  “Three Ways You Can Volunteer That Will Take Less Than 2 Hours per Week.”

9. Seek specific volunteers: “Any math lovers out there? We need an auction clerk, and your primary job is recording numbers during the live auction. Any takers?”

10. Link to relevant websites: “In 55 days, our charity auction will be raising money for cancer research.  Here’s a link to fascinating article written by XYZ about the need for a cure.”

11.  Support your supporters: When you notice that one of your supporters (e.g. a school parent, a Board member, an auction donor) is mentioned in the paper, link to it and promote it. “Parent Joe Smith just got promoted and here’s the link. Way to go, Joe! We look forward to congratulating you in person at the gala next Saturday.”

12.  Call to action: Get your audience to act (or think about acting).  Something like, “Early-bird pricing on gala tickets ends tomorrow,” or “Get your gala dress at Lord & Taylor this weekend. The store has special occasion dresses on sale.”
These auction tips will get you started.  You’ll have fresh content in no time!

About the author: Sherry Truhlar of Red Apple Auctions LLC works with auction chairs and committees who want to plan their most successful charity auction yet.  In addition to offering the auctioneer “fast talk,” she works with clients nationally to teach them the tricks of auction procurement, audience development and marketing.  Many of the area’s most prestigious events are her returning clients, including the Washington Performing Arts Society, Larry King Cardiac Foundation, Camillus House, and the Washington Nationals Baseball Foundation.

Sherry regularly provides advice and tips for charity auctions on her blog at www.RedAppleAuctions.com/blog.  (c) 2010 Red Apple Auctions LLC. Reprinted with Permission.

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Posted on 04 February 2010

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