Q: What does our subscription include?
Standard, Plus and Premium subscriptions all include the tools needed to run a standalone online auction and to accept online cash donations. To support all of our customers in this emergency, we are providing complimentary access to our advanced tools that will help you communicate with your supporters and run the most successful online only event. If you are converting your gala to an online event, please contact support (using the blue help widget) and we'll enable the features for you free of charge.
TipTop subscribers: If you purchased a single gala event subscription, and would like to convert it to a single online auction event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll update your event site (no charge).
This blog post provides an overview and links to instructions for successfully moving your gala event to an online auction.
Q: How do I cancel my swiper order?
Please email email@example.com . Swipers are generally shipped the Tuesday prior to an event - as always, we're happy to issue full refunds for unshipped orders.
Q: Any recommendations for converting a gala auction to an online only auction?
If your gala event was imminent (eg tickets are mostly sold) . . .
. . .you may want to setup your online auction to "mimic" a gala event. Your supporters were planning on attending - now they'll just do so from home. . . Consider live-streaming from Facebook and having a couple of emcees showing off some of your exciting items, promoting the bidding, calling attention to the bidding wars and the real bargains no one has noticed yet - as well as making announcements about table closings. The person scheduled to pitch your fund a need/paddle raise can still do so - and someone can monitor the pledges as they're posted and give shout-outs to those donating.
If you choose this path, you can keep your existing schedule - just making adjustments for any time allowed to eat dinner. Set up your online bidding groups with the updated schedule and edit each group/table of gala items to the appropriate online bidding group. We recommend using Single Bids using Quick Bid buttons to keep bidders focused and engaged for these kinds of short-term bidding periods.
If you're only midway through ticket sales for your gala. . .
. . .you may want to consider a more traditional online auction - that spans multiple days - and uses Max bidding. The most frequent question we get is "how long should an online auction run?" We recommend days - not weeks - but the best answer for your event depends on your promotion plan. Don't have a promotion plan yet? Then that's where you need to start. Online bidding must be driven. How long your online bidding period is depends on how much energy and resources you have to drive the bidding. More instructions for setting up a traditional online auction.
Either Way. . .
When you set-up your online bidding groups - we recommend that you set-up several groups that close on a staggered schedule. Many bidders will have a handful of items they are really interested in - when all bidding concludes at the same time, it's common for bidders to decide to focus on their most coveted item and let the others fall by the wayside because they don't think they'll be able to manage last minute outbids across too many items. Enabling the extended bidding option on your site will help capture those final bids (but won't relieve the additional stress of a single closing time).
Another tip - you can help "flatten the curve" on server loads by staggering your closings and avoiding single, large closings at the most popular times of Sat. evenings, precisely at 8 or 9pm. Having staggered closings at 15 or 20 minute increments, or at half past the hour can avoid delays in the automatic awarding of items and sending notifications. I know, sounds like shades of Y2K - but we preparing for uncharted waters now. . .
Q: What should we do about tickets we've already sold?
For postponed events: most customers are choosing to assure their supporters that tickets purchased will remain valid for the rescheduled date.
Here are the options other customers are choosing for cancelled Galas:
1. Convert all ticket sales to cash donations and send out updated receipts. This takes advantage of the facts that everyone that purchased tickets WANTS to support your event AND knows that the pandemic is beyond your control. If a supporters balks, you always have the option of issuing individual refunds.
Option 1: This shortcut allows you to resend updated receipts, and retaining the "ticket sales" revenue separately in your reports : edit each Ticket Type name to "Cash Donation" and FMV to $0. Bulk Send receipts from Orders page.
Option 2: This is the normal process for converting purchases to a cash donation (usually used sparingly, and when it's preferable NOT to track the revenue as a Ticket Sale): edit each ticket order - use the return link to return the ticket, then click on the Add Cash Donation button to replace it with an equivalent donation amount. Then click on the email receipt button to send an updated receipt.
2. Offer a credit toward purchases made in your online auction. People love to spend/play/gamble with "free money" - which might be just the ticket to get your online bidding rolling. You'll want to weigh the potential value of the birds in the bush vs hand - but remember that you get to decide how much of the ticket price can be converted to a credit and/or whether any portion of it is refundable if not spent.
To execute, create an item in the catalog (name = Online Auction Credit, type = silent, lots of quantity, FMV = same as FMV of your tickets). Then edit each ticket order - click on Add an Item button to add the Credit to their order. Use a minus sign before the amount to add the negative amount to their order. Assuming you are not refunding any ticket monies, do not return the ticket, leave it on the order. If you will not be refunding any unspent credits, you can either include (not refundable) in the Item name or add a disclaimer in the "Additional Notes to all Buyers" space on your sales receipt.
3. And, of course, you always have the option of returning tickets and issuing refunds at any time.
Q: Should we open our online auction to the general public?
We always recommend encouraging your broadest network or supporters to participate - sending invitations to bid to all supporters on your users page and/or providing a link to your online catalog via social media and promotional communications.
We don't recommend investing your limited resources into trying to draw in the general public - random bidders rarely produce enough bids/revenue to warrant the outreach.
Q: How do I move my Live items to online bidding?
Because online bidding on Live items is an oxymoron - the software will not display online options while your item is type = live. Here is the workaround:
- Create a separate online bidding group for Live Items.
- Edit each Live item to type = Silent. These edits must be made individually. See next step if a Live item has qty > 1.
- If any of your Live items have qty > 1, clone the item now. Move all of the extra qty to the cloned item, and edit the clone name to add something like "double-sell or addt'l qty" and uncheck the Display in Public Catalog box. You will need to manually "sell" these to the additional winners at the appropriate price once bidding concludes. Leave them as type = Live, bidding via paddles so you can award them via the Auction Night Tasks Sell an Item button as usual. After the clone is made, return to the original item, edit to qty = 1 and type = silent.
- Bulk Edit all "Live" items to Bidding style = Online/Mobile then Bulk edit Items to your Live Online Bidding group.
Q: How do I move my Paddle Raise/Special Appeal online?
In light of the pandemic, we are providing access to this Plus feature to any customers who would like to use it. Instructions here.