I held an online auction two years ago with fellow members of a global health interest group at my university. The money was to help pay for a volunteering trip overseas; there was an organization that was willing to take us as summer interns, but we needed to pay for the costs of room, board, food and so on.
We chose an auction because we thought it would be better for people to bid on items that they found interesting and wanted to have or could use; instead of selling one item, there would be many different ones to choose from.
It was very easy to get items for the auction, as it was going to a volunteer project and not something that people might think was a waste of money. Also, donors thought that we were doing something to help others, and could bring knowledge back to our school in return.
We contacted all other clubs that were related to the interest at all, put ads in the free newspapers in our city, on the school website, and so on. We also sent out a reminder email to every address that we had approval to use on the morning of the auction.
The online auction is fantastic – you do not physically need to be there in order to man the items, people do not have to come to the event (can reach people all over the city!) and there is more competition for items. As long as you can get help with setting up the auction and payment systems it is definitely the way to go.
The number one thing to do when fundraising is emphasize what the ‘customer’ gets out of it. They know what you are getting out of it, but there is a limit on the number of people who are willing to just hand you cash for being yourself.
You’re trying to sell a product, so treat it like a job – make sure you have an event you can wholeheartedly support!