Nonprofit Fundraising Tips - eBay and Customer Service
Auctions have long been a staple in the toolkit of nonprofit develepment professionals. The emergence of ubiquitous online access have made online auctions an excellent vehicle for nonprofits and charities to raise funds while engaging stakeholders and other consituencies in their causes. eBay, the leader platform for online auctions also provides a number of offerings for running nonprofit auctions. Running a charity auction on eBay is simple, but getting the most from your efforts involves developing a strategy and understanding the ins and outs of eBay. Luckily eBay provides lots of information on how to be successful using their services.
If you are running an eBay business, you may not realize that the need for great customer service still exists – even for online auctions. When a buyer receives quality customer service from you, they will potentially do one of two things – or both. They will give you great feedback, and they may look for more of your auctions in the future. If you hope to make a living from eBay, you have to stop thinking of it as an ‘auction’ and start running it like a ‘business.’
If you owned a brick and mortar business, how would you treat your customer while they were standing at your counter, waiting for you to finish ringing up their order? You would be helpful and respectful of course! You would do everything that you could to guarantee that customers return to your establishment in the future. You would bend over backwards to make sure that their buying experience with you was both satisfactory and enjoyable. Why would you do any less at the close of one of your eBay auctions?
In addition to eBay, other vendors offer vehicles for nonprofits to run fundraising auctions. CMarket - www.cmarket.com offers services emphasizing the importance of bidders, donors and sponsors, and their respective roles in a successful auction. Their Website is a valuable source of fundraising auction tips.
First, act quickly at the close of your auctions. Contact the winner, and congratulate them. Describe the item they have won and how the item will be shipped – even if this information is already part of the description for the auction. Remind them of their winning bid amount, and give them payment options and instructions. Let them know when the item will be shipped.
Close your email by thanking them for participating in your auction. You might even take this opportunity to tell them about other open auctions that you have as well. Think of this contact with the winner as a conversation that you are having with a customer who is standing at your counter in that imaginary brick and mortar store.
Once the payment and shipping details have been taken care of, contact your buyer again. Let them know when the item was shipped – the exact date and time – and when it is expected to arrive on their end. During this contact, let them know that if they have any problems or questions, that they should contact you through the eBay site. If they do contact you in the future, make sure that you answer promptly, and that you do all that you can to make them happy with their purchase – even if it means issuing a refund.
Yes. You should be open to issuing refunds, depending on what the item is. Furthermore, you should issue refunds promptly. Of course, it is reasonable to expect the buyer to return the item to you, at your expense, before the refund is issued – but once you receive the item, issue the refund promptly. This is just good business!
About the Author: Michael Saunders has an MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He edits a site on Fundraising Auction Tips and is president of Information Organizers, LLC.