Nonprofit Launches Online Auction

In its first attempt to raise donations online, The Harriet Tubman Center will kick off the relaunch of its Web site Nov. 15 with a link to its first ever online auction. A direct mail campaign targeting donors nationwide will debut next week.

The Harriet Tubman Center, Minneapolis, an organization that provides shelter, education and resources for abused women and children, is hoping to drive traffic to the new site by promoting it at the auction site.

“We are looking for different ways to reach out to different groups within the community who may inform people about us and get them to come see us,” said Marc Johnson, direct of development at HTC. “This is a way for us to contact a big group of people that we were unable to reach before. And it allows us to do it in an inexpensive way.”

The auction site, which is going to be located on the Star Tribune Newspaper Web site, will run to Nov. 30. Those looking to participate will be able to access the site through either or

“The goal is to have people come in and buy something and then have our regular site to come back to,” said Johnson, adding that the company has not set a specific goal regarding the amount of money it’s hoping to raise.

The Star Tribune is going to allow HTC to keep the page in case it wants to run another auction or put up an information and education page on their organization.

HTC is going to be promoting the site to its 2,500 donors as well as the 10,000 other names it has within its database. It is going to be using a number of different mediums to do so.

More than 10,000 direct mail pieces will be going out to people this week promoting the site and announcing the re-launch of the new site. HTC has already contacted 9,000 other people via its quarterly newsletter, which went out in mid-October.

The Star Tribune is going to be providing banner ads on its site along with links to the auction site as well as the redesigned HTC site. It also will be promoting in the shopping section of its Web site.

HTC is going to be undertaking two local print media efforts in the Minneapolis area. And based on what items it will be auctioning, it is going to take out ads in some specific trade publications.

Those who donate items to be auctioned will be asked to post information and the Web address of the site on their own home pages.

Among the items already set to be auctioned include: a ride-along with a local TV newsman Jason Davis as he produces one of his On The Road segments for KSTP-TV located in Minneapolis; a 1931 restored antique classic car; a bicycle track racing lesson from nationally ranked racers at the National Sports Center’s Velodrome in Blaine, MN; a finished stain glass window designed by Michael Pella; two hand-wound oriental carpets; and two center court tickets to a Minnesota Timberwolves basketball game.

The names of everyone participating in the auctions will be collected by HTC in order to build an e-mail database.

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