Your nonprofit’s annual auction may be one of your most important fundraising events. That’s why you’re always looking for ways to drive registrations, improve the attendee experience, and raise more for your cause through the event.
One of the most effective ways to improve your auction donors’ experience is by gathering and assessing data. Data can reveal valuable insights into your audience’s interests and motivations, helping you enhance your auction events over time.
This article will focus on collecting the right information before, during, and after your auction so that you can better plan future events. We’ll discuss the benefits of collecting the following types of data:
- Marketing response analytics
- Auction engagement data
- Post-event feedback
- Post-event involvement data
To accurately and effectively gather and evaluate your auction donor data, you’ll need access to donor management software. This solution will allow you to build comprehensive donor profiles using the data you gather and assess trends over time.
Here are the data points you’ll want to track in your donor management software.
1. Marketing response analytics
An effective marketing strategy is critical for boosting auction registrations. Data can help you understand if your marketing approach resonates with supporters and what you can do in the future to make your outreach even more engaging.
Look at your marketing data from past auction campaigns and other initiatives to create an improved marketing strategy. Analyze data points such as:
- Email open and click-through rates. Which of your emails received the highest open rates? Evaluate the subject lines and content of those emails to understand why they were the most engaging for recipients. Also, look at the click-through rate for previous email campaigns. Review the text or format of your most clicked-on links to help you create better calls to action in the future.
- RSVPs from different channels. Assess your RSVP data from previous auctions to see how many people RSVP’d via a link in their email, via a social media post, or on your website. Going forward, focus your marketing efforts on channels that resulted in the most RSVPs and improve outreach on other channels.
- Social media engagement metrics. This includes post shares, likes, comments, impressions, and event registrations. Determine which social media channels receive the most engagement and which posts on those channels had the greatest impact on your registrations.
- Microsite engagement data. Plenty of nonprofits launch event microsites to help promote their auctions. A microsite is a web page or small group of pages that are focused on one topic. These simple sites can provide a lot of valuable data for your research, such as the conversion rate and average session duration.
Continually analyze your marketing progress by conducting A/B tests on each of your marketing channels. A/B testing is the process of creating two different versions of a marketing message and discovering which was more engaging for your audience. For instance, you might A/B test your email subject lines by sending the same email with two different subject lines to two separate but similar audiences.
2. Auction engagement data
The data you collected throughout past auctions will reveal valuable insights into the best ways to plan your future events. Look back at past event data to assess metrics such as:
- Number of RSVPs versus actual attendance rate. This metric describes the number of people who said they were going to attend or participate in your auction vs. those who actually did. You can determine if there was any disconnect in past events between RSVPs and attendance to focus your future marketing efforts on increasing the likelihood that supporters will attend. For instance, you might create more event reminders to share on social media and via email. Or, you might avoid scheduling your auction during a time when many supporters are likely to be out of town, like during spring break or the summer months.
- Attendee demographics. Review information such as attendees’ ages, genders, professions, and other demographic identifiers. This data can help you understand your core auction audience and let you know which demographics you aren’t connecting with as well. One way to attract new attendees is to procure new items that will appeal to them. You can also create new communications to expand your outreach strategy to appeal to them and earn more event registrations.
- The number of bids per item. Which items or experiences received the most bids at your previous auctions? Offer similar prizes at future auctions. If some items received few or no bids, remove those from your list or bundle them with more popular prizes.
- The most active donors/bidders. Which attendees or participants were most active at your auction? Who were the top donors at the event? Focus your marketing strategy on promoting VIP opportunities to these individuals or additional perks for their attendance. You might even call them to personally invite them to your next event or ask for their feedback on what kinds of auction items they’d like to see. These supporters are the most likely to drive auction bids up for high-ticket items, so knowing what items they’re interested in bidding on can be immensely helpful.
These data points can help you understand who your auction donors are and what types of items or experiences they’re interested in. Use this information to adjust your marketing strategy or help choose your auction items as needed.
3. Post-event feedback
Ask supporters directly for their feedback on your event. Send out surveys a day or two after your auction when the experience is still fresh in supporters’ minds. Then, review the responses you collect and determine how you can incorporate their feedback when planning your next event.
Include questions like these in your survey to discover valuable insights from supporters:
- What motivated you to attend this event?
- Was the bidding process easy to figure out?
- Were the auction items appealing to you?
- What did you enjoy most about the event?
- How can we make the event even better next year?
Combine these qualitative data points with your quantitative event engagement data for a well-rounded picture of your auction donors’ motivations and preferences.
4. Post-event involvement data
After your auction, you need to determine how effectively you retained the attendees’ attention and support. You can find this out by tracking their post-event involvement with your nonprofit.
Use the information in your donor database to answer the following questions:
- How many donors continued to give after your auction event? Did your donors continue supporting your organization through monthly giving, in-kind donations, or other forms of financial support?
- How many donors interacted with your organization in other ways? Did your auction donors stay involved by participating in your volunteer program, engaging in your advocacy efforts, or participating in peer-to-peer campaigns?
- How many donors continued to engage with your marketing efforts? Did your donors continue opening your emails, engaging with you on social media, or responding to your direct mail campaigns?
If you discover that your donors’ post-event involvement isn’t very high, make adjustments to your donor stewardship approach. Bloomerang’s donor stewardship guide recommends calling donors to say thank you, describing the impact that their gifts have had to show them that you’re putting their donations to good use, and maintaining an open dialogue with them to show that you value their input.
The more data you gather about your auction donors throughout the event cycle, the better you’ll be able to design an event that exceeds their expectations while raising more for your mission. Approach data collection as an ongoing process of gathering and assessing audience data and continually putting your insights into action.