The coronavirus pandemic threw some financial hardballs at nonprofits in 2020. Charitable donations dropped. Meetings and fundraising events were either cancelled or quickly reimagined for online delivery – both options cutting deeply into revenue.

The District of Columbia Health Care Association (DCHCA) was one organization that decided to convert its 2020 annual conference to an online event. As if that weren’t enough of a challenge on a few months’ notice, they also had a fundraiser to think about. Like many nonprofits, the DCHCA traditionally relied on the revenue from a fundraising event during its annual conference. They decided to look into a first for the organization: an online silent auction, run by a consignment company. Consignment companies set up auction sites and charge a portion of the proceeds.

Unfortunately, says Veronica Sharpe, MHSA, president of the association, “Registration for the conference by vendors and attendees was low. We did not have the budget to work with a consignment company.” With the clock ticking, Veronica called Aaron Howard, vice president and web services director at IlluminAge. “DCHCA has worked with IlluminAge and Aaron since 2011,” says Veronica. “They have never let us down.”

In less than a week, Aaron added an auction site to www.dchca.org, which IlluminAge built and manages. The fully functional site enabled incremental bids on 45 auction items, a “buy now” option, the ability for bidders to “follow” an item, credit card payments through PayPal, and more.

“Aaron’s work was essential,” says Veronica. “He worked with the volunteer silent auction team at the Lisner-Louise-Dickson-Hurt Home, and as I expected they had the highest of praise for how easy and delightful it was to work with Aaron, and how very responsive he was.”

The auction ran smoothly without a glitch, says Veronica. “We raised nearly $4,000, and given how quickly we put the auction together, we were pleased with the results.”

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