Marketing With Charitable Auctions: Yay or Nay?

With Allison Tyler Jones

Owner | ATJ Photo & The ReWork
Gilbert, Arizona

DATE: April 4, 2024

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Today’s episode is one that hits close to home for many of us: using charitable auction events as a way to market our photography businesses. Now, before you roll your eyes or sigh in frustration, let’s discuss. 

Donating a session to a good cause SEEMS like a great idea. 

We cross our fingers for some buzz and new clients, only to feel a bit let down by:

  • Never hearing from the auction winners at all
  • A less-than-amazing sale after shooting our hearts out
  • A battle with a new client over pricing and what was (or wasn’t) included in the gift certificate

Maybe at this point, you’ve given up on auctions altogether. 

Not so fast! Charitable auctions really are fantastic opportunities to not only attract right-fit clients, but also give back to the community. You just have to do them right.

In this episode, we’ll discuss the potential pitfalls and offer practical solutions to ensure your charitable auction endeavors are a resounding success.

From the frustration of auction winners not redeeming their certificates to the challenge of attracting bids in the first place, we’ll address the key issues photographers face in this type of marketing. Whether it’s setting clear criteria for your donations, optimizing your display, or refining your auction strategy, we’ll explore quick and easy steps you can take to make charitable auctions work wonders for your business.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • The common problems photographers face with this type of marketing
  • How these problems can be addressed and prevented
  • Questions to ask yourself when a charitable auction is not a success

Here’s a glance at this episode:

  • [2:06] – Have you tried this before? Many photographers have given up.
  • [4:10] – This is one way that we have built a great new client pipeline.
  • [5:35] – One way to avoid the problem of auction winners not redeeming their certificate is to donate with specific criteria.
  • [7:27] – What happens if no one bids on your stuff? A better question would be, “Why is no one bidding?”
  • [9:24] – Whatever is on your display will attract the people who want it. Be intentional.
  • [10:27] – There are in-person and online silent auctions and they are very different.
  • [12:32] – When someone wins an auction, what happens next? Some winners only want what is free and that isn’t going to be a client that sticks around.
  • [15:15] – In the donation itself, you may be donating way too much or not enough.
  • [16:38] – Donating something that requires a ton of work and time from you is a huge mistake.
  • [17:51] – Learn what the sweet spot has been for us.
  • [19:37] – We need to know and set the rules and requirements clearly.
  • [21:23] – Rework your auctions through rules, displays, and being organized and prepared.
  • [24:24] – Reflect on where you might be making a mistake in charitable auctions that might just need a little fix.

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Allison Tyler Jones
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