2010-08-26 / News

Library ‘Friends’ add online auction to fundraising efforts

Cocktail party and silent auction will be held Sept. 11
By Cindy Cingone

The Friends of the Jamestown Library will try something new this year in their quest to raise funds. On Sept. 11, the Friends group will host its first online auction in conjunction with its traditional cocktail party fundraiser and silent auction.

The Internet-based auction was the brainchild of Linda Supron, a volunteer in charge of the evening’s event.

“Over the past few years, more and more non-profits are running online auctions for a variety of reasons,” Supron said. “In the current economic climate, bidders are no longer willing to overbid for an item, or have the public know what they are bidding on. Some bidders prefer to remain anonymous and do not enjoy bidding against people that they know. Some people cannot attend the actual event, but would like the opportunity to participate in the auction, and support the non-profit.”

The online format also allows people to view the items available for donation ahead of time and lets them focus on enjoying the actual event – without worrying about standing over a clipboard, Supron said.

The Friends of the Jamestown Library is a group of volunteers that provide library programs that are free and open to the public, and enhance life in Jamestown. Programs typically include films, crafts programs for children and adults, concerts and presentations on a wide variety of topics, such as farming in Jamestown, travel and gardening.

The Friends also financially sponsor programs such as babysitting classes, first aid classes and flu shot clinics. Thanks to this sponsorship, many people are able to take advantage of classes that they might not otherwise be able to afford.

All of the programs that the Friends offer are supported by member dues, which run from $15 annually for a senior membership to $100 for a corporate membership, as well as proceeds from the annual book sale and the bi-annual fundraiser.

The online auction is managed by a company called Bidding For Good. Its motto is “shop for a cause,” and the company has helped raise more than $95 million for a variety of causes. Featured items for auction include travel, dining, art, spas, electronics, sports events, entertainment tickets and other items.

Online auctions will be a great way for Jamestown to expand its donor base, according to Supron.

“From the donor’s perspective, the online auction has benefi ts as well,” she said. “Typically, the item donated is located in an online auction catalog for the specific non-profit. The catalog is available for viewing for two to three weeks. As bidders search through the catalog and come upon items they are interested in, they can select that item and get more specific information about the item and the donor. If the donor has a website, a link is provided which brings the bidder directly there.”

This provides the bidder with much more exposure than a traditional auction does in an event that only lasts several hours.

“Bidders also get much more exposure because the non-profit typically sends two or three emails out to their donors and mailing lists to remind them of the auction,” Supron said. “Many of these emails are passed on to contacts that those recipients have.”

Bidding for Good has 100,000 registered bidders who regularly go online to browse auctions – which can mean good exposure for a donor and funds for the nonprofit.

Some larger companies donate items directly to Bidding for Good that they in turn offer to some of the non-profits for use in their auctions. If the non-profit sells these items, they can keep a large percentage of the proceeds.

Individuals interested in bidding can register to do so by filling out a form and providing a credit card number. This information is saved exclusively for the non-profit’s use when closing out items. It is downloaded to the non-profit via a secure report that cannot be accessed in the future, protecting the bidder’s information.

The auction works much like eBay, where the bidder has an opportunity to place a maximum amount that they are willing to bid up to, should the bidder not be able to follow the auction through to close. Bids follow an incremental format so a high bidder will never pay more than the bid increment over the next highest bidder.

The online portion of the Friends’ auction will end Friday, Sept. 10. The high bids online will be the starting bids at the silent auctions, but absentee bids will be placed on behalf of those who cannot attend the live event.

The Friends are still seeking sponsors and donations that can be used for the auction. Items may be added until the night before the event. Those who wish to donate may go to www. jamestownlibrary.cmarket.com and click on “donate an item,” or contact Linda Supron at LSupron@ aol.com.

Tickets to sporting or cultural events, and transferable airline vouchers, are great donations, Supron said. Sponsors get their logos and links placed on the website, she said.

This year’s fundraiser will take place on Saturday, Sept. 11, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Altamira in Jamestown, a privately owned home overlooking Newport and the East Passage.

Tickets are available at the library or at Baker’s Pharmacy. Tickets are $35 and include hors d’oeuvres and one “Dark and Stormy” cocktail. A cash bar will also be available.

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