Make More Money At Your Auction With Data, Part 2: Supporters

In our last post, we discussed how to use Item data from your previous event(s) to improve your procurement and pricing strategies and make more money at your auction. This week we’ll look at how you can use Supporter data from your last auction to make more money at your auction the following year.

Start by checking out your Sales by Buyer report. You’ll find it at Admin > View Reports > View Summary Reports under the Sales/Revenue tab. At a glance, you’ll see your top ten buyers, how many items they each purchased, and the total amount they each spent. These are your big spenders. Assuming you know your supporters well, you probably won’t be surprised by the names you see there. 

But if you expected to see names that don’t appear on your big spenders list, do a little research on those buyers as well. Was last year’s spending dip an anomaly for them? Were they outbid on the big item they often buy? Did they place lots of online bids, but just not win the items they were bidding on? Depending on what you discover, you may want to include them in your big spender group as well.

Next, delve down and take a closer look at each big spender’s purchases. Were they expensive, single item purchases? Mostly paddle raise/fund-a-need donations? Several smaller purchases? Or some combination? Get a sense of what appeals to your big spenders. Does one of them always buy the travel package to Hawaii? Or the professional chef’s private dinner for eight? 

The better you know your big spenders, the better you can appeal to their tastes, and the more likely they are to spend even bigger at your next event. But don’t only rely on their past spending data. Find out what they’d like to see in the future, too.

About six months before your auction, reach out to your big spenders. Let them know how much your organization appreciates their continued generosity. Tell them specifically how the money they helped raise last year furthered your organization’s mission. Then ask if they’d be willing to help you strategize about procurement for your coming event. Make it clear you’re just asking for ideas — your team will do all the legwork. 

What would they like to see offered in your next live auction?

What interesting items have they seen offered at other nonprofit fundraisers? (Many big spenders attend multiple fundraising auctions each year.) What sold well at these events that might also sell well at yours?

If they struggle to offer specifics, ask about the types of items they’d like to see: Experiences? Travel packages? Hosted dinners or wine tastings? Luxury items? Memorabilia? Be ready to give them some examples to help get the conversation going.

Last, but not least, ask if they have friends and colleagues who might like to attend your next event. Would they be willing to reach out to other potential big spenders and invite them to come? Be ready to provide information about your cause that can help them persuade their friends to attend.

You can talk to your big spenders individually, or invite them to a hosted gathering with wine and appetizers. Or, given the times, see if they’d all like to meet up online. While it can be challenging to schedule a gathering, the upside of getting people in the same space (be it physical or online) is that they can play off of and validate each others’ ideas. Which can lead to some really creative and appealing live auction items. Along with an invested group of supporters who are eager to bid on them.

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