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Case Study Guides Station to Fundraising Success
Key Statistics
Project Timeline: Three months from start of solicitation to the completion of pick-up and pay.
Auction Length: 8 Days
Items Donated: 187
Items Sold: 178
Number of Bids: 1,378
Number of Users: 497
Collection %: 100%
Faced with the challenge of finding untapped sources of revenue, MPT (Maryland Public Television) decided a new approach was needed. They elected to have Dana Weaver, Special Projects Coordinator, attend a PBS (Public Broadcasting System) conference of auction managers to become familiar with the utilization of auctions as revenue raising tools. After Dana investigated the concept MPT determined that an online auction provided the greatest opportunity for success. Assuming the responsibility of auction manager, Dana then contacted to investigate the possibilities; and in March of 2005, following some study, Maryland Public Television contracted with to host their first online auction event.

The auction accepted bids for eight days and revenues exceeded by $3,000 the station's goal of $45,000. As expected, almost half of the bidding activity occurred during the final 48 hours of the auction. Due to the success of the initial event, Maryland Public Television has determined to make this an annual event on their fundraising calendar. The upcoming event's greater lead time provides expanded opportunities for solicitation from potential donors and MPT anticipates continued growth from this revenue stream.

The Personnel Requirements
During the first event, the station was reluctant to extend significant personnel resources on a test market campaign. With a limited solicitation window and the part time assistance of only one additional staff member, MPT gathered 187 items. After completion of the solicitation process, Dana Weaver enlisted the assistance of in-house graphic design staff for the creation of the auction logo and basic site graphics. All other online auction-related tasks were completed individually by Dana with the guidance of the staff.

A New Market Yields New Bidders
Although MPT sought the support of current members and donors by advertising in internal publications, they did not rely solely on this already committed group. Advertisements in local newspapers, brochures distributed though local businesses and communication with the Chamber of Commerce raised public awareness and stimulated interest in the auction. To rally support near the end of the auction, Dana utilized's e-mail marketing tool to send e-mail announcements reminding registered users of the auction's closing. A majority of bidders in this auction were new to Maryland Public Television. By reaching outside of their current donor pool and mode of fundraising, MPT found a new revenue stream that will not compromise major giving or membership drives.

Maryland Public Television utilized's online auction software and experience in auctions to extend the reach of their fundraising efforts. The total staff requirements over the term of the auction cycle were minimal and net auction results exceeded goals. In Dana's words, "The team was not only helpful with tips and advice, but was also a voice of reason when I wasn't sure we were going to reach our goals and calmly reassured me that based on their experience I was going to be just fine."