Before the auction

Prepare like a boss before organizing and launching your online auction. No surprises, just straight-up fun!

Here are the steps to get there:

Choose your event format

One benefit of Followmybid is the possibility of organizing a fundraising activity 100% online and saving on many costs... but there are other options! Hybrid or in-person events are also excellent choices.

Be daring and host an event 100% online

For some time now, online events have been popular! Organizing a fully digital fundraiser and making it accessible to everyone is now easier than ever.

All you have to do is create your account, customize your auction, add your items, and you’re ready to go! With Followmybid, you can track your auction’s performance in real time, modify your items or add new ones during the auction, contact your participants via the platform, print reports, and more.

As more and more people get comfortable with online transactions, the platform lets you accept payments online.

If you are auctioning off symbolic or electronic items (gift cards, electronic tickets, etc.), you won’t need to travel to deliver these items either! As for physical items, remember to arrange the terms and conditions for participants to retrieve their items.

Other benefits of choosing a 100% online format:

  • No venue or entertainment fees.
  • You can offer a more comprehensive selection of items since participants will have more time to browse and review them.
  • Your participants can bid on as many items as they want. They will also automatically be notified by email or SMS when other participants outbid them.

Plan a longer auction, but highlight special moments to create interaction and draw more bids by keeping people interested.

What is a hybrid event?

This is an ideal solution when hosting an in-person event and, for whatever reason, you also want to include a remote group of supporters who cannot attend the event.

All you have to do is organize an in-person event while including virtual elements. With Followmybid, it’s simple: auctions can be published on the platform in advance to create excitement, encouraging people to come for the items that interest them. You can allow bids only at the start of the event or let people start bidding a few days early. It’s your call.

The in-person event will allow you to do several things:

First, in-person event hosting can boost sales and encourage people to bid from their cell phones or on tablets that you make available.

Second, you can share pictures of your event in real time with people participating remotely. They’ll be able to join from anywhere and outbid virtually! Send potential participants a link to your auction website, and they’ll be with you online! If you’re up to it, you could film the event and broadcast the awards ceremony live.

Sound like a plan? Here are a few tips:

If you choose this type of event, select a venue in advance and book it for the planned date. Remember to secure all the necessary equipment (chairs, tables, sound system, etc.). Still, most of all, verify the Wi-Fi connection at the venue to avoid any technical glitches during the event.

You can also use the giant screen function to display bid evolution in real time for in-person events. Your guests will enjoy seeing the bar of your financing goal progressing throughout the event. You can also use the giant screen to display the Wi-Fi connection and password that everyone will use.

Additionally, you can use the assistant setting: assistants can bid on behalf of all the registered participants who request it, which allows guests to enjoy their evening without being on their phones!

You can start the auction online one or two weeks in advance and distribute the items won during the evening. However, it would be best to keep in mind that some participants will bid online and won’t be present at the event. Be sure to organize the distribution of items won by these participants as well.

Consider having a few tablets available on-site for participants who don’t have their cell phones. It is a good idea to have some phone chargers available as well!

The classic in-person format

Even in-person events can benefit from the help of technology! With Followmybid, participants can attend the event and bid directly from their cell phones.

If they don’t have a cell phone, no problem. Our platform allows administrators and assistants to bid on behalf of specific participants from any device. You also have the option to make tablets or computers available on-site during the event!

The advantages of using Followmybid for your in-person event are numerous. Here are just a few:

  • A simplified process for organizers as they only need to enter the items in the system. Followmybid will calculate the amounts due for each participant, create a list of items won, and give you real-time updates on progress toward your goal at all times.
  • No more pens lost or participants lining up by a specific item to bid on it. With our platform, everyone can bid remotely and safely!
  • Maximize your valuable volunteers. In addition to answering participant questions through the Assistant feature, they can bid on behalf of participants who ask them to.
  • If unfortunate circumstances force you to transition your event to an online format (bad weather, disasters, disturbances, or public and local emergencies), the change will be easy-peasy.

Find a theme for your auction

With a thematic event, you will be offering participants a total happening. You’ll be able to create visuals in line with the theme, send creative invitations, and even find related items for participants to bid on.

Some inspiration

Here are a few ideas:

  • Glamourous VIP evening
  • Carnival
  • Tropical party
  • Casino-themed party
  • Masquerade ball
  • Safari expedition party
  • Country party

Pick your dates

Have you found the perfect date for your auction? Now, set up the timeline of how to get there!

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • When?
  • For how long?
  • When will my participants be most active?

A few factors should be considered when choosing a date, such as other events being held at the same time, the season, participant availability, and their habits. Knowing your target audience is crucial when planning any fundraiser.

To maximize the number of participants available for the launch and closing of your auction, we suggest including two weekends, starting on a Monday and ending on a Thursday night.

It’s worth remembering that the Followmybid platform allows you to push back the end of the auction date as many times as you want to reach your goal. Thus, the most important date to think about is the starting date.

Plan your calendar

Now that you know when your auction will take place, determine a timeline for completing the necessary action.

Here is a planning tool that will probably be quite useful:

A few key moments to identify:

  • When will you get access to the platform?
  • When will you have all the elements to set up your auction?
  • When will you announce your auction on social media?
  • When will you invite your participants?

Set a goal

We recommend setting a fundraising goal. This goal will serve as an incentive to mobilize volunteers, organizers, partners, and participants.

Setting the right fundraising goal

If you have no idea what your financial goal should be other than “raising funds”, here are a few ideas:

To better determine your financial objective, add up the market value of the items you put up for auction. The total amount can serve as a benchmark for you to get a head start on your financial goal.

You can use their starting price if you have multiple items with an undetermined value.

If you are concerned that certain items will not find a buyer, set their price at 80% of their value and/or their starting price.

Find partners

Who says auction, says items. Where will you find the items for which your participants will enter into a fierce fight?

With the help of your partners!

Dust off your pen and inkwell to write partner letters, and feel free to suggest items they could offer.

The type of items requested can vary greatly depending on your organization, the theme of the event, and your target audience.

To maximize your chances of success, opt for exclusive items or incredible experiences. We’re talking about items with an unmeasurable value because of their uniqueness.

To obtain items from your partners, it’s important to let them know about the visibility they’ll obtain when encouraging your auction. If you are a registered non-profit organization, you can also specify that they’ll get a receipt for the value of donated items and be eligible for tax deductions. It’s a tempting argument!

All about the main partner

Do you know of a partner who would like to become a key player in your event? The first step will be to discuss their needs and expectations to make the partnership a win-win for everyone.

Since the involvement of this partner will exceed that of the other partners or sponsors, why not offer them something extra to solidify the partnership? For example, promote their brand image by offering them the role of lead partner. Your event will be presented in collaboration with this partner, and their logo will appear in your auction header.

Did someone say “visibility”?

Because we hold your success at heart, we’ve created a partners visibility plan for you to collaborate with your partners. You’ll find it annexed to this guide and can download it separately to send directly to potential partners. 

N.B. Although our partners visibility plan is classified by categories of platinum, gold, silver, and bronze partners, you will be free to name the categories the way you want to!

Conquer blank page syndrome

Requesting and collecting items might seem challenging.

We recommend customizing the following template to suit your organizational needs and brand image. We’re pretty sure you’ll be glad to have a little help!

To :
[Target partner]
Subject :
[Organization name] auction

Dear Sir or Madam,

Our foundation is organizing a fundraising event that will take place on [date] at [location] starting at [time]. During the evening, more than [number of guests] guests will participate in the interactive auction to support [the Foundation].

From their smartphones or with our assistants, participants can bid on a selection of items and follow the evolution of their bids in real time. Bids will also be projected on a giant screen.

We are asking for your help in participating in the success of this event. By offering your products of equal or greater value at $[desired amount], your company will have great visibility in return [specify your personalized ranking]. We’ve attached our partner visibility plan so you can see the potential benefits for your company.

We would be glad to count you among our auction partners, who are crucial for [your cause/your organization’s beneficiaries]. A response by [date] would be greatly appreciated.



Your signature

Promote your auction

If you want your auction to succeed, you must pay attention to event promotion! Obviously, the communication channels you use to attract participants will depend on your budget, the event format and the type of products auctioned off. Still, we have a few suggestions to inspire you.

For example, you can...

  • Send a newsletter to your subscribers and those of your partners.
  • Change the banner of your website and/or your Facebook page as well as those of your partners.
  • Reserve advertising space in a newspaper.
  • Write and distribute a press release.
  • Organize a press conference.
  • Register your event in cultural event calendars.
  • Create an advertising poster and display it in businesses in your area.
  • Send invitations to your personal and professional contacts.
  • And last but not least, promote your event on social media!

The power of social media

Social media is essential when it comes to promoting events. By using these platforms, your auction can benefit from great visibility at a low cost.

You can announce your partners, answer questions from the public, send reminders, and even share content collected during the activity after it’s over. Using your social media to promote popular items or showcase featured items may also be a good idea.

Ask your sponsors and partners to share posts that are the most relevant posts to them. You may need to follow up with them regularly, however, since they don’t necessarily follow your publications on a daily basis.

You can also do paid posts or social media ads to boost distribution if the budget permits.

Your partners have the potential to create a strong engagement with their customers and network. Ask them to share the news on their own social networks to generate more interest.

Create a personalized hashtag and share it. Doing this will allow you to find mentions about your auction easily.

Social media content calendar

Here is an example of a social media content calendar to add to your social media strategy when organizing an online auction.

Create your items list

To get started, create a list of the items you will auction off. To make things easier, our team has put together a catalogue of item ideas to spark inspiration. After determining your auction item selection, you must write a short description for each item in the auction items section on the platform.

Please consult our blog article presenting the different stages of item creation to simplify the process of managing new items and to know precisely what to include in item descriptions. You will also learn more about the item donation form you can submit to your partners.

You will need:

  1. The market value of each item.
  2. A detailed description of each item.
  3. One to five photos for each item.
  4. The website hyperlink and the logo of the partners who offered the items.

You must also plan methods for retrieving items from partners and how winners will collect their items after the auction.

Did you know the platform allows you to stop featuring certain items or hide them to decide when people can bid on them? With this feature, you can schedule “flash items” that will be available to bid only for a short time. You can also create single-bid items that only accept the first bid. Take advantage of these options to create highlights during your auction.

Create your auction site

Do you already have everything you need? Fantastic!

You now have the freedom to perfect your product under secrecy. Before making your auction public to the rest of the world, you can quickly set it up and view it in preview mode.

We suggest you follow the steps on the platform dashboard to set up your auction. Although they are organized in a specific order, you can do things in the order you prefer to have a hassle-free auction creation experience.

If you aren’t sure everything is in order, follow our pre-auction checklist.

3, 2, 1… Let’s bid!

Screenshot of the home page of an online auction site

Auction rules

Although an online auction is intended to be an entertaining and rallying activity, it is customary to establish certain rules for the event. You can include rules and guidelines to assist your efforts in planning to plan a safe and smooth event. To do so, go to the settings section on your dashboard and click “Auction rules”. Specific rule sections will be activated automatically depending on the features you configure.

Enable Stripe payments

Never mind dealing with chequebooks or invoice pads and enjoy a simple and secure connection with Stripe to accept online payments.

What is Stripe? Stripe is a payment processor that helps manage, make, and settle online transactions and purchases.

Our team has integrated this feature to offer a simplified payment management solution. To start accepting online payments, you must configure the feature in your auction settings in the “Enable Payments with Stripe” section. Once the payment processor is set up, guests can pay their invoices online with a credit card.

Screenshot of the Stripe payment activation settings page

Publish your auction

Now is the time to showcase your hard work and share it with your target audience. After making sure you have completed all the auction creation steps, review it one last time, and then you can publish it even if the start date has yet to arrive. By publishing your auction in advance, you can invite participants. It will allow them to view your auction site and explore items so they are ready when your auction launches. However, participants will only be able to bid on the start date of your auction.

Ready for the next step?
Now that you know the steps for creating an auction, discover our tips for boosting your event while it is underway.
Emoji glossary
List alert! This emoji announces a small list of things to remember or think about, the kind of information you’ll probably write down on a Post-it note since it’s that important!
The most frequently asked questions our fundraising experts receive about online auctions. These tips are worth repeating over and over again to anyone willing to listen.
Bonus ideas that might be helpful!
Emoji glossary
List alert! This emoji announces a small list of things to remember or think about, the kind of information you’ll probably write down on a Post-it note since it’s that important!
The most frequently asked questions our fundraising experts receive about online auctions. These tips are worth repeating over and over again to anyone willing to listen.
Bonus ideas that might be helpful!