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Benevolent Bids: How Online Auctions are Impacting Cause Marketing

By Tom Watson on February 6, 2008No Comment

We saw an opportunity to leverage this trend at Charity Folks, an online marketplace for nonprofit fundraising, corporate cause marketing campaigns and celebrity-driven charity events. Utilizing both traditional and new online media strategies (blogs, social networking sites and forums), we help our clients leverage the Internet to reach a virtually infinite audience. 

Online charity auctions also allow clients to promote new products to bidders who love the idea of guilt-free shopping and spend a premium on unique experiences and memorabilia, knowing that a portion of their dollars is always supporting a good cause. 

Last fall, media conglomerate Condé Nast opted to both host and sponsor (which allowed 100% of proceeds raised to support the cause) its own auction in conjunction with Fashion Rocks, the star-studded concert, honoring the extraordinary relationship between fashion and music.  It featured experiences and memorabilia donated by today’s hottest musicians, as well as some of the fashion industry’s biggest names.

While Keep A Child Alive was the official benefactor, celebrities who donated to the auction were given the chance to direct half the money they raised to their favorite cause.  Jeremy Piven, who hosted last year’s event, auctioned off a meet-and-greet for the Piven Theater Workshop, which was founded by his mother, Joyce, and late father, Byrne.

JetBlue Airways also set the gold standard for giving, recently donating 18 roundtrip airfare packages to a Charity Folks auction benefiting the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund.  It was a fantastic donation that provided a great way to pair corporate and celebrity clients.  Bidders also love when lots are inclusive of airfare and accommodations. 

The overall auction was a huge success.  Billy Baldwin, passionate about his mother’s pursuit to find a cure for breast cancer, assembled an unbelievable array of celebrity pals to contribute.  We raised over $300,000 for breast cancer research and attracted 1.4 million unique visitors to the site. 

“I’m very excited to be part of such a new and innovative way to help raise worldwide awareness and critical funding for a disease that has affected so many lives, including my own.  This combination of philanthropy, global technology and community can only help us to take further strides towards finding a cure,” Baldwin said of the auction. 

Part of what made the Baldwin auction so successful was the mix of unique lots.  Bidders are always looking for opportunities to meet their favorite celebrity, musician or sports star, score VIP tickets with backstage passes to today’s big concerts and events, or win luxury boxes, vacation packages and access to everything else otherwise unobtainable. 

Auctions in the works for 2008 include those with corporations such as Sony BMG, Hearst Magazines, and 20th Century Fox, nonprofits such as Virgin Unite, Make-A-Wish, and the Tiger Woods Foundation, and high-profile philanthropists, including Morgan Freeman, Reba McEntire, and Rachael Ray.

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