March 16, 2021

How to run an online auction for charity

Charity auctions have always been a popular way to raise funds, combining the generosity of supporters with the thrill of competing bids and the glamour of a major event. 

But as the world came to a standstill last year and forced most of our activities to go online, charities and non-profits were forced to adapt. Fundraising had to go digital, and organisations looked to create online experiences, including online auctions where supporters from around the world could bid on valuable items and experiences. 

With 54 percent of people worldwide stating that they prefer to donate online, the pandemic appears to have accelerated a move towards digital that was already underway. In fact, contactless digital fundraising increased by 15 per cent during the pandemic, and even before Covid-19, two in five people were making payments with contactless technology.

The global online auction market, which was valued at around $4billion in 2019, is also expected to grow by 9.2 per cent by 2028.

So, how can you run a virtual charity auction? Here is all you need to know about moving your fundraising online.

How do online charity auctions work?

Online charity auctions work in much the same way as traditional, in-person auctions. Donors offer products or services for free (or, perhaps in exchange for publicity), and supporters bid in order to ‘win’ them. The main points of difference are the duration of the auction, and the level of anonymity they provide. 

Online auctions generally take place over a longer period of time. This allows supporters to join from all over the world, regardless of their time zone, and facilitates ‘bidding wars’, helping to push up the final price of auctioned items. Whilst auctions are a great way to help build a feeling of community around your supporter base, online events also provide bidders with a greater degree of anonymity (which can be particularly useful when high-value items are on offer). 

Promoting an online charity auction 

We’ve talked about the power of social media and fundraising before, but it’s worth reiterating here. If you want your online auction to be a hit, take to social. Promote it on all platforms on which you have an existing following. And don’t be afraid to follow up with emails, newsletter, and perhaps even online advertising. In short, the best place to promote your online charity auction is…online. 

Charity auction platforms 

Once you’re set on holding an online charity auction, it’s time to choose which platform to use. 

Of course, there are the major players such as eBay for Charity, which allows you to register for free, and then items can be posted by your supporters to raise funds for your cause. All items are marked with a blue and yellow ribbon, so people know the funds are going to non-profits.   

Some of the best online charity auction sites include OneCase and QGVI, which allow people to bid directly from their mobiles through their apps. They enable you to collect data, keep people updated with notifications and even make donation appeals. 

ClickBid is another easy-to-use platform that has helped a lot of charities and non-profits continue to host their fundraisers despite the pandemic, with live bidding and an easy way to pay from their mobiles 

The benefits of virtual charity auctions

An online charity auction doesn’t have to be a back-up option. Going digital can bring you a whole host of benefits.

Build revenue 

Going online eliminates additional costs that come with in-person fundraising events. Even if you spend money on the platform and targeted advertising online, you will likely save more money when compared with an in-person event.

Cater to a larger audience 

No longer constrained to your area’s geographical confines, virtual auctioning allows you to expand and reach a larger audience. The greater popularity leads to more competition and higher bids on items. 


Anyone can bid anytime and anywhere. The added advantage of smartphone technology means that people can bid on-the-go and use social media to share and increase engagement. 

Data analysis

The great thing about going digital is that everything from how many people registered to how many clicked on a certain item can be tracked and analysed. This can help you target your future online auctions even better and make sure you raise as much as possible. 

It’s time to go online

If you’ve been wondering how to make sure your next big fundraising event can go ahead no matter the global situation, an online auction could be the perfect way to raise funds, empower your followers to help out, and perhaps even raise more money than usual. 


If your organisation is looking to increase donation income, sign-up to become a GoodBox member for free. You’ll have access to our data-driven fundraising reports as well as exclusive discounts on our GBx Core and GBx Mini contactless devices. And in case you need more convincing, read up on how we’ve helped organisations like The Church of England and The Natural History Museum boost their donation revenue. 

whois: Andy White Freelance WordPress Developer London