Next Generation Charity Auction and Event Fundraisers

Posted on October 21, 2021 by Laurie Hochman in Fundraising and Grants.

Pivot, convert, virtual, hybrid, online. These are all new terms used in the charity auction landscape–a silver lining that, in the Coronavirus cloud, can fully fund your charity’s financial needs. Gala events with lavish rooms, food, and entertainment are the quintessential marquee events you may have seen on the social pages of magazines. However, as soon as lockdowns occurred, the easiest way to convert those fundraising events was to go online. 

Luckily, there were a number of options available to organizations. From a basic Zoom meeting to going live on a single social media platform to full-blown produced events, virtual components help ease the lack of social interaction. 

Virtual-only events were very popular and very successful. As locales start to reopen, there are still guidelines and regulations and attendees with a range of comfort levels. But that’s okay. A hybrid event can meet your audience where they are without barriers or judgment. 

Defining Hybrid Event Fundraisers

A hybrid event fundraiser brings together an in-person event and a simultaneous virtual event. The hybrid event’s goal is to reach a larger audience to make a grander and more financially successful event.

  • The fundraising portion can be handled online or live at the event.
  • It involves the use of live streaming for the event show.

Here are some factors to consider when deciding between a virtual or hybrid event:

Don’t risk planning an in-person event, selling tickets, and paying for space and food if you think people will cancel, or worse, not show up or demand refunds. 

Don’t risk not planning an in-person event if your audience is Zoom fatigued, and you can find a safe location where the crowds will gather.

In the Room and Out of the Room Event Fundraising

Event fundraisers work because they provide a reason to gather and give. With a hybrid fundraiser, you can have an audience in the room and out of the room. Best of all, your fundraiser is never sold out with a hybrid event. There is no maximum capacity for audience auction participation. 

The combination of both audiences means you are serving dual audiences simultaneously. Make sure to choose an auction platform that can handle all the bidding, donations, purchases, and collections for both audiences. Then whether you should host the fundraising In the room or out of the room is up to you. 

You can dictate the percentage of the audience in the room versus out of the room. What is the room capacity, your audience’s tolerance for gathering, and of course, what are the local ordinances and state restrictions? We know this may be a quickly moving target, so if you are planning a hybrid event, pack your patience.

Make the Content Compelling; Always Lead with Your Mission

For a hybrid event with dual audiences, you have to make the content compelling for both. Those in the room don’t want to wait around as you give instructions to the online viewers. Those watching from a screen don’t want to watch people eating their chicken dinner. For the online audience, release pre-recorded information on joining, bidding, donating, and any other expectations. 

Stick with a shorter program, 45 minutes max, make it interesting, and make sure to message your mission to give people a reason to support your cause.

People and Equipment Resources

Before deciding on the type of event to pair with the fundraiser, assess the staff, volunteers, and equipment you have available. A hybrid event with dual audiences takes double the work of an in-person event or a virtual one. The question to ask the auction team is, do you think the extra effort yields more money? 

You will need people, equipment, and the knowledge and ability to use the technology. You may need A/V production staff and an emcee or auctioneer to run the show. Be sure to secure producers and technicians to run everything, then test the cameras and computers. Finally, set up and test the live stream so the audience can tune in to the event.

Online Only Auction Fundraisers

Does this still seem like too much work? Don’t worry! Online auctions are an ideal alternative to an in-person or hybrid event. Online auctions have the benefit of staying open for days, not just a few hours. Use a fundraising platform that streamlines registration, bidding, and checkout to make things easy. 

Bid Extension

Have you ever been running an online auction, and there is a surge in activity as the bidding is closing? The winner is the one that got that very last bid in at the instant before the auction closes. The winning bidder is super happy, but the event host wonders how much higher the bids could have gone? With bid extension, when a bid is placed within a set time right before the auction item closes, it triggers the auction bidding window to lengthen and stay open longer.

Proxy Bidding 

Proxy bidding is much more efficient. The bidder can place a private proxy bid for the maximum they are willing to pay, then let the system re-up the bid as necessary. The system will keep the actual bid as low as possible yet provide a path for the bidder to remain the winner if the bidding stays within the proxy amount. 

Online auctions can include some powerful boosters such as bid extension and proxy bidding. 

Learn more about the six best tips for your online charity auction. 

Next Generation Charity Auctions Are Here to Stay

Online and hybrid event fundraising trends are here to stay. Lead with your mission, and you can never go wrong asking for money. Online and hybrid events auctions are tools that make it easy to bid, give and collect. The more bidders, the higher the bids. The more access you have to more supporters, the higher the donations will be. Online events are open 24 hours, seven days a week. Take advantage of these tools to keep your online presence active and your mission moving forward.


Laurie Hochman has a passion for helping groups exceed their fundraising goals. After using Auctria for many auction fundraisers, she joined the team to help others boost their auction fundraising for many wonderful causes. Auctria has helped 40,000 auction fundraisers bring in over $400M.  

“The beauty in what is done with the money raised with Auctria is what motivates me every day to help auction teams succeed.  Hope all your bids soar!”


Harbor Compliance does not provide tax, financial, or legal advice. Use of our services does not create an attorney-client relationship. Harbor Compliance is not acting as your attorney and does not review information you provide to us for legal accuracy or sufficiency.


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