First On-Line Auction Raises $16,100 for Friends of the V.I. National Park

Friends of V.I. National Park wrapped up its first ever on-line auction on Monday, December 20, after pulling in $16,100.

Instead of hosting a traditional auction at the non-profit group’s annual gala — scheduled for February 6 — Friends hosted an on-line auction this year hoping to attract attention from members across the country.

With proceeds exceeding expectations, this won’t be Friends’ last internet auction, explained the group’s development director Noreen Cavanaugh.

“The auction was great,” said Cavanaugh. “We exceeded our goal. Our maximum goal was to raise $15,000 and we pulled in $16,100.”

“I think it would be a great idea to do this again,” Cavanaugh said.

The funds came from the successful sale of 31 items, ranging from luxurious stays at Caneel Bay Resort and the exquisite villa Kismet to jewelry and gift certificates to local restaurants, Cavanaugh explained.

“I intentionally kept the sale small because it was the first time we were doing this and I didn’t want it to run amok,” she said. “So we had 31 items and 18 people won those items.”

The stay at Kismet was the top-dollar earner in the auction, bringing in $1,900. The Caneel Bay stay garnered $1,750 and a necklace from R&I Patton brought in $1,725, according to Cavanaugh.

“We had one person who spent $4,500 so that person won quite a few of the bids,” said the Friends development director. “People really had a lot of fun bidding and were able to win some great prizes.”

The on-line auction was such a success due to the user-friendly website and impressive items up for bid, Cavanaugh explained.

“I had such good feedback,” she said. “Everyone who used the site said it was really user-friendly. There were people who had never been on eBay or anything and they found it a really fun thing to do.”

The internet forum allowed Friends to reach a broader audience rather than hosting the auction on-island.

“Interestingly, 13 of the 18 people who won items were off-island,” said Cavanaugh. “These are people who visit St. John on a regular basis or have a timeshare or some connection here. One person who won is getting married here next April and she bid on a boating excursion.”

“We really did reach people in a larger capacity than we would have had we hosted a traditional auction,” said the Friends development director. “These people were not going to be here for the gala.”

The auction’s success, during a time of economy uncertainty, strengthened the non-profit group’s ability to continue its work, according to Cavanaugh.

“And this is in a time when the economy is still not in the best shape,” she said. “Just the fact alone that we had really nice items, speaks to how much people support the work that we’re doing. We also learned more about the people who are interested in Friends.”

“I believe that the auction allowed us the opportunity to be more in touch with our donors,” said Cavanaugh. “We found out more about the people who care about Friends of VINP. This is just one more way to reach out to the great community.”

The Friends 2010 gala will be on Saturday, February 6, at Janet and Martin Marshall’s Great Cruz Bay villa starting at 6:30 p.m. For tickets or for more information about Friends call the organization at 340-779-4940.