By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

In the direct-selling form of the online auction process, you are the seller and the recipient. (One example is offered through the eBay Giving Works program.) You auction off your own items, such as excess inventory or old office equipment. On eBay Giving Works, eBay provides the auction structure and reporting features, and you handle the rest.

Of course, you can take the direct path and fully manage your own online auction. You still need the support of a vendor, though, at least for the back-end technology. In exchange for your use of the technology and other accompanying services, you can expect to pay a setup fee, a one-time usage fee, and a percentage of sales from each auction item.

Another growing trend is having an auction-management site oversee and promote auctions for multiple nonprofits. Specifically, these auctions let people bid on access to celebrities or other high-value, luxury auction items. CharityBuzz is one of these sites.


The benefit of working with CharityBuzz, or a site like this one, is that it can promote your unique auction items to a wider audience, one that is prepared and able to pay top dollar for a special item, such as dinner with a celebrity.

The downside of this type of service is that you often have to be a larger national nonprofit to participate, or you have to come up with a star-studded auction item! CharityBuzz helps your organization brainstorm unique auction items and make them a reality, taking 20 percent of the auction total (with funds delivered in 30 days of the auction).

Realize that working with this high-profile type of auction does take a serious commitment, but the payoff is potentially significant.

Of course, luxury auctions aren’t for everyone. In fact, you may prefer to manage your auctions in-house. Fortunately, lots of other companies offer online auctionware and compatible services. The following companies can get you started:

Online fundraising doesn’t have to have the same grand scope, or large scale, of an auction. But as anyone who has pulled off this type of event can tell you, online fundraising still requires lots of work.