Make Your Organization’s Virtual Live Auction More Successful

February 3, 2021

Virtual Live Auctions

Live auctions, where an auctioneer accepts bids in real time, usually bring in between 60 – 70% of the profit for a fundraising event. This makes your live auction especially important for your nonprofit to capitalize on this portion of the evening to earn maximum dollars. Virtual live auctions extend the live auction to online bidders to be able to bid remotely. Below are some helpful tips from Murad Auctions about how to hold a successful virtual live auction!

Promotion Ideas

Give all your attendees a description of the live auction items prior to your event so they can take the time to decide which items they are interested in. This is easy with Clickbid’s software platform.  All of your live auction items can be showcased in the online catalog prior to your virtual event. Make sure to send the link to all your attendees or supporters several days before your virtual event.  You can do this using the texting or emailing feature in the software. This gives your bidders time to share the link with others who may want to join together to purchase a trip or dinner or other high-ticket item.


The auction chairperson and the auctioneer should know who potential high bidders are.  It is often a great strategy to reach out to your past live auction bidders and board members to see what type of items they are interested in purchasing this year.  Do they enjoy golf? Are they hunters or do they like photo safaris or private chef dinners?  Are they interested in wine or specialty liquor? Do they want to meet a special celebrity in your area?  Create custom auction items for your supporters, and they are likely to bid on them!  Allow your auctioneer to reach out to your donors to review the items with them.  Our auctioneers help promote the live auction items during the cocktail hour at an in-person event, and allowing them to reach out to past bidders to answer questions can be seen as a wonderful service to your donors.

Pre-event Video

Showcase the live auction items in your pre-event video.  This is a 30 minute to 1 hour video or slideshow that includes sponsor and volunteer thank you slides, photos of the people you serve and your programs, and most importantly slides showcasing your live auction items. This gives you one more way to market your live auction items and is remarkably effective.

After everyone has had a chance to log into the virtual event and is watching the  pre event programming, be sure to include a brief emotional appeal or story relating to the agency’s mission. This is an example of a mission video.  We want your guests to see the need and have an emotional connection to your nonprofit or school.  Be sure to include video of the people you serve and show concrete examples of the good that you do.

When to hold your Live Auction

The best time for the live auction at an in-person event is during dinner because everyone is relaxed. Since virtual events may not include dinner, or people at the watch parties may have already enjoyed their meal, make sure the live auction is at the beginning of your virtual event.  This will keep your audience fresh and connected during this important part of your event, and increase your profits! Hold award ceremonies, your entertainment and raffle drawings until after the live auction (after all the funds have been raised).

Pro Tip: Secure “Multiples” of items

A great way to increase your profit in a live auction is to have items available which you can “double up” on. This technique creates great excitement and doubles your item income!  We recently sold a dinner with the principal of a local private high school for $8,000.  There were four bidders vying for the dinner. The school gave Pre-approval to sell the dinner as many times as we could, so instead of making $8,000 or even $16,000, the dinner sold four times and brought in $32,000!  At a recent virtual event, we sold a live auction item twice for $13,000!  See the video here!

The Power of Asking

Remember to ask for donations during the live auction.  You have bidders who were willing to spend thousands of dollars on live auction items, who lost to another bidder.  That money is still in their pockets, so let’s ask them to donate.  Since we do not have the ability for guests to see these generous donors raise their bid paddles in the room, using Clickbid’s software, the guests can simply tap the button and enter the amount they want to donate.  The auctioneer can see the names of the donors and call them out if you would like. 

We can also show the names and the total amount raised on a donation appeal display board during your virtual event. This is an extremely effective way to drive up donations and recognize your donors.  See a recent event here where we exceeded the school’s goal of raising $70,000 in the Giving Moment!

Go Pro!

It is important that your auctioneer is licensed and is a member of the National Auctioneers Association and not an amateur! You want to utilize an auctioneer who understands how to perform in a virtual setting.  This is quite different, and the success of your virtual event depends on your auctioneer knowing how to connect on camera with your audience.  He or she also needs to know how to use the amazing virtual live auction software with Clickbid.  This platform is fast and allows your viewers to bid in real time with virtually no delay.  Our live auctions using Clickbid’s EventStream are just as exciting and competitive as our in person events, and are raising as much or more money than our in person events! View this event where we raised $135,000 on one auction item!

The Future of Events

We are so excited about the future of fundraising!  Even our clients who are planning in person events will incorporate the EventStream software to allow guests who cannot attend the in-person event to connect virtually and bid.  These Hybrid Events are the future of fundraising!

Contact us to find out more about conducting a live auction for your event.

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