BiddingForGood Aims to Streamline Donation Requests and Boost Charity Auction Pool

2/19/10Follow @xconomy

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the high volume of bids it generated for hot items (like Red Sox tickets) and added a search function to allow users to seek out particular items. The company redesigned its site to be more consumer-focused in 2006 and officially renamed itself to BiddingForGood last fall.

BiddingForGood charges each nonprofit organization or school that uses its services an annual subscription fee of $595. It also takes a small cut of the cash charities raise from auction items they put up on the site. The charity auction site, which sold more than $30 million in merchandise in 2009 and now boasts nearly 160,000 registered bidders, has also evolved since its inception to harness the advertising potential of charity auctions and target new donor vendors. “We had this revelation that charity auctions were sort of like a media platform. They reached a very defined demographic,” Carson says, namely affluent Baby Boomers, typically female.

This realization prompted the business to begin soliciting donations from companies in exchange for prime, targeted advertising on the site, and placing them into charity auctions. BiddingForGood has two full-time employees dedicated to finding items for donation and placement on the auctions it hosts, and takes a 33 percent cut of these items’ final auction price.

The website also sends e-mails on behalf of the advertisers to the nonprofit auctions’ second-highest bidders, who usually go by the wayside in traditional auction settings. “The losing bidders were a place of economic leakage,” Carson says. “They had gotten a pat on the back and were sent home, but they had bid real money and that brand probably would have cared about them.” The website also features auction items that have the potential for upselling—for example, a user who wins an auction for a four-day stay at a resort may opt to pay the resort for a couple of extra days.

Helping business find advertising and other value in charitable donation has become more important in the recession. “Item donors want to see the marketing value now because the economy is tough. The charitable side is being cut back,” Carson says.

Which brings us back to the AIRS system. Using it, businesses can track how many people are likely seeing their donated items, since charities must fill out the number of bidders they anticipate at their auctions. The donation request form also contains a line at the bottom where users can indicate if they want more information about the donor’s products or services—this option has been selected in more than half of the Liberty Hotel’s donation requests, Carson says. “As a marketer, there’s not much more I can do than deliver paying customers right to them.”

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  • http://www.dailygrommet.com Jules Pieri

    Erin, thanks for spotlighting Bidding for Good. I have worked with a few former employees from Jon Carson’s various startups and let me tell you, he has an incredible fan club. Having led a couple seriously productive non profits myself, I see the real value in the AIRS release.

    Hey Jon…if you are reading this, have you ever tried converting the second place bidder into a winner? I have done that a lot…if you can get the donor to agree to a second donation of the same item, for a minimum (high) price, you can get double the proceeds for the same item, assuming it is not exclusive. For instance, I ran an auction in Dublin for which Bono donated two limited edition silkscreened prints of the art he did for his Peter and the Wolf book. They were really popular and we had anticipated their appeal, so we lined up a back up pair, as above. It’s key to have agreed to a minimum price though, or else you are risking being somewhat misleading. Donors and bidders need to know the second donation was prompted by exceptional circumstances/success. Both the (true) winner and the donors are on board in those circumstances.

  • Judy Opie

    I would like to bid on these tickets as I have a five year old
    grandson who is out of school that week and I have no other time
    to take him. No other tickets are available. Is this only for
    charities?
    Judy Opie