If you’re looking to get people excited about your nonprofit auctions ahead of time, social media is going to be your best friend. In this article, we’ll look at how these 3 different social media strategies will build hype around your upcoming event. Hint: a lot of these strategies will involve the items you’ll have at your auction. If you haven’t gathered any items yet, check out this article on auction item ideas.
But first, who can host charity auctions?
All types of fundraising organizations host auctions—nonprofits, schools, universities, community groups, and more. Explore our success stories for real-life examples.
Each of these strategies will work a little differently for each nonprofit that uses them. Use these ideas as guidelines, then get creative!
- Create a Facebook event for your auction
- Share your event across multiple social media channels
- Show your audience what they can expect from your event
- Recruit people to spread the word
1. Create a Facebook event for your auction
A while ago, I gave a fundraising presentation to a board and mentioned offhand that I’d never attended their signature event. When they asked me why I’d never attended, I told them the honest truth: I never knew when the event was happening and assumed it was invite-only. They were great at posting pictures after the event, but I had no idea I was able to attend.
On the other hand, another local nonprofit always creates a Facebook event for their fundraisers. I see them pop up when they’re created, I see when my friends RSVP to attend, and I see their promoted posts about the upcoming shindig. This is often the only way I learn about their events, especially because I’m not on their email or direct mail lists.
If you want to spread the word about your auction, a great first step is creating a Facebook event and sharing it to your organization’s profile. Here are a couple of pointers:
- Make it a public event so people will be able to see it.
- Use an image from a past event. This helps people establish what they can expect from this event (plus it’s more engaging than the standard options Facebook provides).
- Invite donors, volunteers, staff, and other supporters who are active on Facebook. If they indicate that they’re interested or going, the event will appear in their networks’ timelines.
- Link to your auction registration page in the event description so people can easily find and buy tickets.
- Include a FAQ section that includes the date, time, location, and a brief statement about what the event will fund and what attendees will enjoy during the event.
Creating a Facebook event is an important first step to getting the word out about your auction! You’ll use your Facebook event extensively in the next two strategies as well.
2. Share your event across multiple social media channels
One important thing to note is that not everyone has a Facebook. There are a lot of different social media sites out there to choose from. That’s why it’s important to reach out on multiple social media channels to get your ideal audiences to see your auction event and register.
Make a plan for how you’ll communicate across the different social media channels to reach more potential attendees for your auction event.
X communications are vastly different from Facebook, for instance, as there’s a strict limit on the number of characters in a post.
Instagram is largely image-based and text posts don’t thrive there. You need to take pictures of your auction preparation, auction items, etc. to entice would-be attendees from Instagram.
Even smaller social media sites like Nextdoor can be valuable for reaching a local audience. You should get your event on Nextdoor’s community events calendar for your local area to attract users who otherwise wouldn’t have known about your auction.
3. Show your audience what they can expect from your event
People love seeing behind-the-scenes pictures as you plan your event. Giving them little peeks at what they can expect from the auction makes them feel like they’re insiders! It also helps them set expectations about what the event will entail.
Some ideas for social posts include:
- Pictures from past events. If you have good pictures of your last auction, show them off! This will give donors a way to envision what your event will be like this year. From a few photos, donors can establish what the dress code will be, what kind of people will attend, what the food and entertainment will be like, etc.
- Thank-you posts (preferably including photos) to businesses and supporters who donate auction items. Post a photo of the person who coordinated the donation and thank the business by name (Or better yet, tag the business in your post!). Then, go into detail about what they donated. In one post, you’ll show attendees a bit of behind-the-scenes action, publicly thank a donor, and give a preview of an auction item. If you’re nervous about asking businesses to donate auction items, we can help! Here’s a breakdown of how to ask for in-kind donations for auctions. Then, use this article as a reference when you write your appeal letters.
- Highlight noteworthy auction and raffle items. At one auction I attended earlier this year, a huge “Cooler of Cheer” went up for raffle. It was a name-brand cooler full of beer, wine, liquor, mixers, and cups. The nonprofit highlighted the raffle item a few times in the weeks leading up to the event and encouraged people to purchase raffle tickets. You can also try getting people to guess what a noteworthy item may be. If an auction item is a travel package, try to get people to guess the destination. Encouraging interaction on your posts will ensure they reach broader audiences. Another option is to unveil auction items early. Our CX team suggests creating an auction item category that goes live before bidding starts so you can showcase auction items that you’ve solicited for the fundraising event. Donors can see the items ahead of time, make a plan for what to bid on, and then register for your event to try and win the auction items when bidding officially begins.
As you share this kind of post, use this simple strategy: post directly to your Facebook event, then share it to your nonprofit’s Facebook page. This way, people have a higher likelihood of seeing the post, even if they’re not in both audiences.
If you’re looking for tips on improving your social media presence and engagement, you might like this article, too!
4. Recruit people to spread the word
Social proof is the #1 more desirable asset you can have while you market an event. If someone sees that a friend of theirs likes a post of yours or indicates they’re attending your event, that person is more likely to interact with you, too. I have absolutely attended charity functions—including auctions!—purely because a friend of mine was going. Ask volunteers, staff, or board members to share posts about the upcoming auction. It’s a powerful way to let people know about the event and encourage them to attend.
To get even more eyes on your content, try enlisting some help. If you can get one or two people to react to a Facebook post within the first few minutes, you’ll get more eyes on your content! Ask a friend, family member, or staff to like or comment on your post. Even better than a like is a “wow” or “love” reaction. Facebook loves those! When Facebook sees a post with lots of positive reactions, their algorithm assumes it’s great content. Those posts are then more likely to reach a wider audience. On top of that expanded reach, those reactions will appear in your supporters’ news feeds!
Building hype around your auction is important! If you want people to attend your event, bid on items, and engage with you, you’ll need a solid marketing plan. These strategies will help you spread the word about your auction on social media. If you’re looking for more ways to get people excited about your event, check out this article on pre-auction engagement. It’s full of ideas!
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