Celebrity Charity Auctions

Many companies competed to put celebrity charity auctions on the Web during the first Internet boom. An online charity auction opens up the bidding to a wider audience and takes up less time and space.

Charities have long sold items owned by celebrities, but eBay and the Internet have pumped new life into this fundraising technique.

Celebrity Charity Auction Online Growth

Warren Buffett auctioned his 2001 Lincoln Town Car on eBay Inc.’s Web site to benefit a nonprofit group that offers educational and recreational programs for girls. The auction started on 12th of September with an opening bid of $25,000.

This eBay auction made the third that year for the 75-year-old Buffett. In June, he auctioned a steakhouse lunch for up to eight people to a Palo Alto, California investor for $620,100. In May, a Buffett-autographed ukulele went for $11,211.11.

The next year, the actor George Clooney gave his Oscar gift bag to United Way for Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery.  At auction, it raised $45,100.

In 2001, Leno auctioned off a Harley-Davidson motorcycle signed by his celebrity guests in an effort to help victims of the September 11 attacks. The bike sold for about $360,000. In 2005, he repeated the gesture twice: early in the year to aid victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake — the bike sold for $810,000; and later to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina. That bike sold for $1,505,100.

Since 2000, more than $81 million has been raised for charity on eBay from regular vendors committing a part of their sales to nonprofit groups and by charities selling items directly. On any given day, more than 8,000 such sales are going on.

For the conventional sellers standard fees are charged. But under a new policy effective Oct. 1, the fees will be returned to them in direct proportion to the percentage of the final sales value they have pledged to donate.

There are no fees for nonprofits selling items on eBay.

It seems that through the Internet, charitable causes and events are pumped with new energy and accessibility, allowing this fund-raising technique to become more widely recognizable and increasing “returns exponentially.”

Not all organizations are lucky enough to have an ‘inside track’ with a very famous celebrity like George Clooney or Jay Leno. But you could approach local or regional celebrities on a smaller scale. Think about sports teams, whether they are professional teams or college teams. Local newscasters and weather personalities are good prospects too.