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Online Charity Auctions Booming!

29 January 2007 at 10:19 am
Staff Reporter
Online charity auctions are booming in the US and celebrity goods, fun trips and coffee makers are predicted to be the top money makers for Not for Profit organisations in 2007!

Staff Reporter | 29 January 2007 at 10:19 am


Online Charity Auctions Booming!
29 January 2007 at 10:19 am

Online charity auctions are booming in the US and celebrity goods, fun trips and coffee makers are predicted to be the top money makers for Not for Profit organisations in 2007!

George Clooney’s Academy Award Gift Bag, a customised Saturn SKY Roadster, lunch with Grey’s Anatomy star, Ellen Pompeo, and a Cuisinart coffee maker were among the hottest items featured last year on – just one of many charity online auctions.

A survey by cMarket ( which provides online auction services) of over 1,000 online auction participants, shows online fundraising auctions are big business. The data reveals what participants are thinking, what motivates them, their characteristics, and what organisations can learn from it to increase their fundraising success in 2007.

The survey also identifies patterns of the highly coveted "Big Spender," and his parsimonious opposite.

Highlights include:

– Travel, sports and entertainment are the three top item categories, generating the most bid activity and largest net revenue to the charity.

– Celebrities are hot! For example, George Clooney’s Academy Award gift bag sold for $US45,000, with proceeds benefiting the United Way while Matthew McConaughey’s self-designed UGG boots commanded a $US9728 bid in the UGG Art and Sole auction that benefited the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.

– Women are the vast majority of bidders for online fundraising auctions, making up 71 percent of the total.

– Men dominate the "Big Spender" category with an average bid of $US933 per item (vs. the average online bid of $US259).

cMarket CEO Jon Carson says this survey shows that online auctions are – and should be – an indispensable part of the fundraising arsenal for any NFP organisation.

He says going online allows NFPs to both expand the footprint of their event and to broaden their communities by attracting new supporters and members. This is another way to build donor community while tapping the power of the internet to appeal to a broad range of participants across geography and time constraints. Plus it’s fun!

The survey classifies "Big Spenders" as making up only 15 percent of the online auction bidding universe, yet those of the people who make the highest bids. The "Big Spender" bids an average $US933 per item. "Big Spenders" are also more apt to be men even though the survey finds that 71 percent of all bidders are women. What are they spending on? Travel and art!

The study signals that online auctions are an excellent way to reach the female demographic – an important segment for non-profit auction fundraisers.

Meanwhile, his counterpoint, who bids low dollar amounts and is looking for bargains, represents 12 percent of online bidders. The average value of items for this bidder is $131. She is more likely to bid because she "needs/wants an item" and is "looking for a deal."

Rather than be motivated by the charitable beneficiary, she is more influenced than others with ease of use and acquiring "great products" – such as dining and entertainment.

The survey further notes that while the average time online bidders spend in general online on a daily basis is 49 minutes; the respondent to the cMarket study spend over one third (33.7%) of that time – 16.5 minutes – on a typical online auction visit.

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