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Using Data to Build Better Silent Auctions

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Mobile bidding technology is a great way to help you simplify and raise more money at silent auctions.

However, an often-overlooked benefit of mobile bidding is the ability to learn from your data.

The information that mobile bidding collects is a powerful resource for structuring a better silent auction. Learning from past successes and being purposeful to repeat success is key to consistent growth.

So how does the data you gather help to accomplish this goal?

Silent Auction and Long Term Analysis

I recommend that you follow your donor data from beginning to end. From the ticket purchase, to the first bid, to bidding activity, to check-out and item pickup. I like to look for engagement information such as:

  • How many people bought tickets online versus mail-in?
  • How many bidders bid early; before the auction opened?
  • What percentage of my auction totals came in before event day?
  • What was the average number of bids per auction item?
  • What was the average sale to fair market ratio?

This data can help you shape how your next event is setup. The evidence can provide a sense of direction and comfort knowing you are investing in the right areas. It can also help you avoid spending too much time in an area that did not produce results.

Let’s take for example the task of choosing auction items for your event. Organizations can forget that the data from their last auction can be a guide map to the next. What are the items that sold above eighty percent fair market value or had high numbers of bids? From there, you may consider acquiring more of those items. If an item didn’t do well or never reached fifty percent of fair market (with only a couple of bids), consider removing it from the auction, making it a door prize, or bundling it with something else. It’s these types of observations and small changes that consistently help grow your fundraising.

Data and Your Relationships

Data, pure and simple, is a silent survey on exactly what was successful with your guests. Therefore, it can even go beyond informing you about suggestions for next year.

I’ve often been asked by auction item donors how their items did. I could give a donor the satisfaction that they helped raise good money for the charity. This was a good lesson on the value of data. Your donors will often be as excited as you are that their items sold for a high bid. Using the right statistics can begin building anticipation for your next auction almost immediately after the first has ended.

Attendees are also motivated by an update on how much was raised and the part that they played in the process. Use your data as a reason to share with your donors. Statistics like number of bids, pre-event bidding totals, number of bids in the last minutes of the auction all add valuable information that your guests will appreciate.

Next, look to donor activity across the board, not just those who won an item. While it’s natural to notice the final donations, mobile bidding provides access to full bidding history. This shows what donors were willing to pay at different times in the auction. Even if a bidder didn’t win any items, take notice of what they were willing to donate during their experience. This form of targeted analysis is a tactic for strengthening your donor relationships.

The Rewards of Effective Data Analysis

Silent auctions can be complex. Planning them comes with a lot of moving pieces and not always with the return expected. Mobile bidding was designed to simplify the planning process by keeping data available twenty-four hours a day and organized. Beyond that however, you can use that “always available” value to your advantage. Pulling a report of sales from last year can give you insights (and good material for board meetings) on where to focus your time to get the best return. This will in turn reduce lower returns and boost your productivity.

While mobile bidding collects a lot of data, start with the areas outlined in this article. As you become more familiar with your data you will have a clearer insight into what other pieces of data need to be observed. To recap, there is a short list of information you should be utilizing:

  • How many items will I need?
  • Which items did well and which will need to be reworked/combined/removed?
  • What achievements from the event will my attendants benefit from hearing?
  • Who are my active donors?

These are four excellent places to start and will deliver clear results to your next auction event. The key to becoming a more profitable and viable organization is determining to spend the right time in the right areas with the data available to you.

Your job isn’t done when the auction ends. Use this Silent Auction Acknowledgement / Thank You Letter Template to get started with good event follow-up.

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