Pre-Auction Engagement: Tips to Build a Buzz Before Your Auction


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Auctions are a great way to raise funds at a nonprofit’s fundraising event (especially if you combine them with other fundraising ideas). But how do you inspire your supporters to recruit more attendees for your event and bid on your auction items? Pre-auction engagement will help you generate a bigger buzz for your event. Here are some tips to get your supporters psyched for the auction events you host.

Set up an email series

One quick and easy way to initiate pre-auction engagement is to create a series of preview emails. Keep your registrants informed about what your event will offer ahead of time. Tease some of the best items available for attendees to bid on. Giving your attendees an idea of what’s available using a series of teaser emails helps supporters plan for what to bid on and how much money to bring.

To get the best pre-auction engagement results, start your email series a few weeks out from the event date. Provide the event details and a link to your registration page. Make the registration link readily available. This makes it easy for your supporters to forward the email to friends and family. Teasing items gives potential attendees a taste of what’s to come at your auction. You’re not showing them every auction item, but they’ll be excited about the big-ticket items you’re sharing with them.

Use images of the items when appropriate. Images work for holding your audience’s attention better than words alone. You can plan to release one or two emails a week counting down to your event with sneak peeks of auction items available. The countdown will keep your registrants reading your emails and talking about your event. You can build anticipation in your audience and make it easy for supporters to spread the word.

You can even make your item images hyperlinks that take readers to a details page. Read this handy guide for hyperlinking images for more information!

Use social media for pre-auction engagement

If your nonprofit has a Facebook Page, you should be making event pages for every fundraiser you host. Your auction event should be no exception!

Create an event page in Facebook with a link to your event registration form. Then, start a dialogue with those who mark themselves as interested or attending. Next, start pre-auction engagement by sharing details about the event on your Facebook event page. If you want to know what types of auction items your audience wants, consider asking in a post to your event—or even starting a poll! Use social media to answer questions about your event. You can foster good will with your community by being responsive to their inquiries and asking for their opinions.

Once you’ve got a grasp on what auction items your donors want to see, use this guide to make appeals for auction items!

Aside from Facebook, you’ll want to regularly post on other social media channels about your event, too. Providing updates and highlights about the event can inspire your supporters to purchase their tickets. Instagram and Facebook are great places to share pictures. If this is a recurring event, create photo galleries on social media for past events and share that gallery on your nonprofit’s pages. You may be able to engage past attendees when they comment on pictures from past events.

Don’t forget the power of word of mouth

Your nonprofit likely has a base of dedicated supporters. Asking your employees and volunteers to tell their friends and family about your event is a good first step.

Offline marketing doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Design and print materials in-house and put them up at your locations. Ask businesses to display your flyers on their community bulletin board or in their window. Your marketing materials should tease some of the best auction items. Include event details and the link to your registration page! For better pre-auction engagement, provide a link to the Facebook event page.

If you or your coworkers regularly attend meetings in your community, share details of your event with other attendees. Making an announcement during the open discussion period is a great way to get people curious about your event. Stick around afterward to answer questions and pass out flyers. Consider making your event a discussion topic during the meeting. Then, you may even be able to include the flyer in the meeting minutes. If the meeting venue has free Wi-Fi, bring a laptop or tablet and offer to help register people when the meeting ends.

Finally, consider putting up an event billboard. You’ll need an eye-catching image to get people to notice it. Don’t write too much or your billboard won’t be readable. Your best bet is to include the event name, date, and event website URL (if it’s short and memorable). Be sure to include your organization name (or logo if it contains the name) so drivers who see your billboard know who to contact for more information.


Pre-auction engagement can seem like a monumental task. However, using social media and email to share details about the event with your followers is a great first step. Target your supporters first and ask them for their feedback and to spread the word. Make your event highly visible and tease your auction items. Digital and offline marketing will make your supporters aware of the fundraiser and helps highlight why they should support you. Ask questions and post regular updates online. Following these tips will boost your pre-auction engagement and get people excited about your auction.

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