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How to source Auction Items for a Winning Virtual Fundraiser

Auctions are one of the best ways for nonprofit organizations to raise funds. Courting businesses and individuals willing to donate or sponsor auction items is a crucial part of that process. The quality of goods and services you’re able to acquire is integral to the success of your fundraising initiative. 

Let’s explore some methods you can use to procure great auction items for your next event!

Strategize for Success

Once you have a strategy, you can actively seek and solicit auction items. Build your game plan based on:

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work

First things first, you need to assemble an item procurement team. Your team should be comprised of committee members who have the gift of the gab. Look for people with charm and diplomacy who can call on a vast social network to obtain coveted goods and services.

If your team is small, don’t worry. Be sure to plan early (preferably a six months to a year in advance). You’ll be surprised by how much even a one-man show can accomplish! Sound people skills can help you distinguish between donors who are short on time and those who want you to invest time in exchange for a high-impact donation.

Lay it All Out

Put together a PR kit with brochures and links depicting what your organization does. Include facts about previous auctions you’ve held such as the number of bidders that participated. Don’t forget, explain how your virtual event works. This includes what would be expected of donors when it comes to fulfilling their end of the transaction.

Your PR kit can provide auction items suggestions to give your business donors inspiration. Customize these ideas for your wishlist businesses in the body of an email or on a phone call. Just remember, it’s easy to ignore emails, so try and make a call first to establish a personal connection.


Colleagues, stakeholders, previous donors from a database, friends, and family are all good sources of auction items. They’re familiar with your cause and have likely witnessed the positive outcomes of your organization’s fundraising projects.

If you’ve thanked them appropriately in the past, there’s a solid chance they will be willing to proffer bid-worthy items again. Your loyal donors and supporters are your first port of call.


Cold-calling and cold-pitching can reap rewards so don’t shy away from approaching businesses out of the blue. Highlight the advantages of participating as an item donor. For example, advantages could be greater brand exposure or an enhanced reputation via visible corporate social responsibility or sponsorship.

Remember, the community you engage doesn’t necessarily have to be local. It can include companies from further afield who have an online presence that resonates with your core audience. As long as you’re not trying to ship items across the world, it should be a-okay.

Harness the Power of Social Media

If your campaign messaging is creative, you can tug on the heartstrings and purse strings of hundreds of potential donors via social media. Crowdfunding and crowdsourcing are remarkable elements of the internet age. In the digital world, the generosity of clicktivists and regular folks alike acts as a counterbalance to vicious trolling. Craft a compelling narrative and it can find its way to people in the mood for a random act of kindness. 

Cast your net wide and you’ll find treasure. You can group smaller items in lovely gift baskets and hampers so no contribution is too small. Don’t forget, stipulate that you’re not looking for second-hand items. High-end thrift items and antique auctions are niches that don’t work for everyone.

Cash donations are welcome too. You can use these to curate vacation items, or organize discounted sports tickets, live performances or any other experiences you feel are missing from confirmed offerings. By doing so, you’ll be able to stretch donations even further and maximize the good you can ultimately do with those funds.

Record-Keeping for the Win

Be sure to use pledge and procurement forms to record important details. Log physical goods and intangible items such as gift cards, donor particulars, starting bids, and any other relevant logistical information. Collate and meticulously track received goods that your organization will need to warehouse and distribute. The best part, virtual gift vouchers and codes can be stored in a secure folder in the cloud!

Key Takeaway

Auction item acquisition is a challenging but satisfying aspect of planning your fundraising event. You can score fantastic items for an online, silent, or live auction. A little planning and determination will serve you well, as will an enthusiastic and polite procurement team. Good luck!

Try Auction Frogs for Your Next Online Auction

Our platform is feature-rich, simple to use, and yields great results. It can be customized to reflect your brand identity. Our platform allows for an unlimited number of item and image uploads. And, with a mobile-friendly user experience, bidders can participate on any smart device. You can streamline your auction item procurement with site-integrated donation forms. And there’s even a dedicated space for donor advertising!

So, whether you’re a school or a nonprofit organization, get in touch to see how we can help make your next virtual fundraiser a successful one.

About the author

Auction Frogs
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Auction Frogs streamlines your fundraising process by giving live and silent auctions a digital backbone. Reduce hassles, save valuable volunteer time, and increase your revenue raised. We deliver unique technology to simplify the experience of hosting a successful fundraiser.

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