cutting through digital noise to advertise your auction banner

Cutting Through Digital Noise To Advertise Your Auction

Any auctions your organization hosts hold excellent fundraising potential for your mission. They are win-win events; your attendees give funds (bids, in this case) to your cause, with the reward of a special gift. 

However, to get the most out of your next auction, you’ll want to attract the attention of as many potential supporters as possible with digital outreach. But, how can you cut through the clutter online?

At GivingMail, we know that promoting your auction fundraiser can be difficult, especially when your target audience is bombarded with social media posts at all times. That’s why we recommend a varied marketing approach that incorporates not only digital platforms but also direct mail appeals to reach the largest audience possible.

We’ll go over three simple steps to help your organization achieve success with your charity auction through an online marketing campaign. Here’s how:

  • Develop a committee to focus on your digital marketing
  • Take a multichannel marketing approach
  • Advertise the auction items in advance

With these best practices, your organization can run an intentional and prosperous digital campaign to promote your next auction event.

laptop with plant beside it

Develop a Committee to Focus on your Marketing

In the initial steps of planning your auction fundraising event, you face a seemingly endless task list to complete. It’s recommended to create a marketing task committee within your event planning team. Events are most successful when each group of team members has a specific goal to accomplish. In this case, the marketing committee’s goal is to promote your auction in digital and physical spaces. Here’s what they’ll focus on:

data chart sheet being held next to a laptop on a table

Create a Digital Strategy

Your nonprofit auction event requires a focused digital strategy if you want to cut through the digital noise to reach potential supporters in significant ways. If your team neglects this all-important plan, the message can get lost, resulting in your organization missing out on a critical fundraising opportunity. 

To create this, your team should determine which outlets are most likely to reach your target audience. You’ll want to refer to the donor data captured by your CRM. If you’ve hosted an event in the past, this data can answer the following questions:

  • Which digital platforms have previously led to donor engagement?
  • Which of your social media platforms see the greatest interaction?
  • What does your target audience find interesting?
  • What outreach has been the most successful in the past?

These questions are crucial touchpoints for creating your strategy. Once you know where your audience is scrolling, you can determine where to broadcast your auction information. For example, your platforms may include the following:

  • Your nonprofit website: Your site will always be an essential cornerstone to your nonprofit digital strategy. After all, it’s the hub for your online engagement, event registration, donations, and information about your organization. How your team chooses to communicate your information and enhance your website’s user experience is crucial for your digital marketing efforts.
  • Email and text communications: Making direct calls to action through email or text is always a stand-out way to grab your supporters’ attention. Use these communication platforms to inform them about your upcoming auction and the essential event details. 
  • Social media content: Social media can be the most crowded digital space, but it’s an important engagement tool to leverage in your marketing efforts. We’ll get into how to stand out on social media later on, but it’s an excellent way to expand your audience and reach your current supporters.

In your marketing plan, make sure you include the popular platforms mentioned above for a multichannel approach that engages your audience. Remember, when you spread your promotional content across a few intentional channels, you’re able to reach more people and get ample exposure for your auction.

Communicate Essential Details at the Right Time

According to this guide to marketing for nonprofits, recognizing time constraints is extremely important. You can’t possibly run a successful auction if you don’t communicate your details about registration and attendance to bidders in a timely fashion.

Auction Frogs recommends nailing down the essential details around four to six months before the event date. Launching communication in the digital space as soon as possible in this time frame is the key. It’ll help your event build excitement and reach as many people as possible.

notepad with up close writing

Whether you decide to launch your outreach on your website, social media, or any other digital space, you’ll want to include the following event information:

  • Dates
  • Times
  • Locations
  • Registration information
  • Any other pertinent details

Your nonprofit digital strategy team should rely on data to develop valuable digital marketing strategies. This plan can be tweaked at any time and should be continually re-evaluated to reach your target audience in more meaningful ways.

Take a Multichannel Marketing Approach

We’ve briefly covered the popular platforms among marketing professionals, but it’s crucial to understand each one’s best practices. Many organizations incorporate a mix of digital and physical channels to cut through the clutter and maximize revenue and engagement.

For example, your organization might send auction invites through email and direct mail and include a social media strategy. According to Charity Engine’s guide to multichannel fundraising, this strategy will provide more touchpoints for users and stand out to supporters. The more your target audience views your promotional content, the more you can pique their interest in your event and overall mission. They’re likely to start interacting with your content due to this repeated exposure.

laptop with plant beside it

Social Media

Social media channels can be essential in successfully marketing your auction event. You’re able to get creative with content, plus your team and supporters can share your messages to their networks. Again, be sure to use your data to determine which platforms your audience uses most. Use your social media analytics to determine the times throughout the day that the traffic on your pages is the heaviest.

When it comes to attracting engagements for your online auction content, social media platforms are a crucial facet of your strategy. Here’s why: 

  • It’s free to post
  • Your supporters can follow and share your pages
  • Your content will pop up in their daily lives when they check their social media feeds

All you have to do is use the social media accounts your organization has active and promote your auction event at the right time. If you’re stuck on which platforms to use, consider these examples:

  • Creating a shareable auction event on Facebook
  • Linking your auction website in the biography of your Instagram account
  • Posting your auction information on Linkedin

Regardless of the platform, make sure that your content is eye-catching, and your call to action is clear. Make your content native to each social media platform your use. You don’t want to recycle the same content on each of your feeds. Finally, include a link to your auction registration page in each post!

Email & Text

Email and text messaging is a popular way to capture supporters’ attention. Ensure that your messaging is as informative and impactful as possible to increase your content’s open and click-through rates. 

There are a few proven practical ways to make sure your email and text content is read by the recipient and not just lost in their inboxes:

1 ) Personalize the messages. Don’t just use the phone number or email address from your donor database! Customize your messages with data such as:

person holding a coffee and a cellphone
  • Supporters’ preferred names
  • Engagement history
  • Preferred pronouns

This will create a personalized message that will catch your supporter’s eye. For example, at the beginning of your message, use their name, rather than a generic, “Dear Donor.”

2 ) Communicate impact. Let your prospective attendees know why you’re hosting your auction. Be specific as to what their bid is raising money for. For instance, perhaps their $1,500 vacation bid will contribute enough funds to allow five children to go on a field trip.

3 ) Appeal to their emotions. Discuss why the mission funded by your auction is essential and why they should care. GivingMail’s guide to fundraising appeals suggests that your team can do this by including images of your outreach efforts or framing donors as the heroes of your campaign. After all, putting donors at the center of your campaign gives them more of a personal stake in your campaign’s success.

post mount mailbox outside

Direct Mail

With direct mail, organizations can speak directly to supporters and don’t have to compete against other notifications or other digital messages that pop up. For example, your supporter could be scrolling through social media or email, where your content is displayed and distracted by a notification. Here’s why direct mail can work for event promotion for nonprofit organizations:

  • High visibility
  • Opportunity to include a QR code that sends supporters to the auction registration page
  • Stands out from digital information one may receive throughout the day

Furthermore, direct mail can help your auction fundraising event stand out from everything your supporters see on their social media and emails regularly. They’re able to save your mailer and will remember your event when they see it.

With these items, your messages and content should cut through the crowded inboxes and social media feeds. Make sure you include a call-to-action that directs supporters to your auction fundraising event page in each message.

Advertise the Auction Items in Advance

Consider the draw of a fundraising auction event — the extraordinary items donors can win while giving to a good cause! Take advantage of this excitement and promote your items in advance of your auction.

On a social media platform like Instagram or Facebook or on your auction’s page, allow your attendees to browse some of the more exciting and coveted items you’ll be offering. Giving users the chance to browse your auction items before the big day can convince more supporters to attend your event and build intrigue. If they see something they want, they’ll be more likely to participate in your auction. Here are some ways to promote your items:

  • Provide images and graphics: Be sure to include enticing images of your auction items to give the crowd a sense of what they want to bid for. Additionally, if your items are more experience-based, find an image of the location or event to help them picture themselves in the moment.
  • Include the link in your outreach: Whether your catalog exists on a Facebook album, an Instagram page, or a website, make sure your auction registration link is included in your content. It’s as easy as copying the link to your site and sharing it with supporters. 
  • Encourage your supporters to share your event on their feeds: Ask your followers to share your online auction posts with their social media networks. Consider offering incentives, such as the chance to win a prize if they share your information on their story or feed!

Advertising your array of auction items online in advance of your big event can boost excitement and engagement with your fundraiser. For best results, you can slowly roll out items so that supporters are compelled to keep visiting your pages to see new products.


Your auction fundraising event can gain incredible traction on digital platforms if done well. Use your digital resources like email, text, your website, and the power of social media to attract your audience.  When you use best practices like intentional messaging and encouraging shares, your auction registration will increase, helping you ultimately reach your goals.

About the Author:

Grant Cobb is a fundraising specialist with over 6 years of experience in the nonprofit space. Currently the head of marketing and analytics at GivingMail, he is a huge proponent of data-driven decision-making and the push to bring high-level analytics and fundraising to all.

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