MetaFilter Fundraiser Auction - How it went and what we're planning December 12, 2022 7:18 AM   Subscribe

The MetaFilter Auction has ended - but it’ll be back soon! Thank you to everyone who contributed items, and everyone who placed bids. It raised around $5,740 for the 2022 MetaFilter Fundraiser (approximate because some generous Mefites overpaid for their items). It was the first time we've tried something like this, so we’re delighted at the community response, and we’re planning another round in the new year.

The inaugural MetaFilter Fundraiser Auction is over and the response was amazing. Many thanks and kudos to the generous donors who provided incredible art, valuable services, unique items from private collections and other great stuff. And thanks to everyone who placed a bid and helped make the auction a big success.

The auction raised approximately $5,740 with some Mefites contributing more than their items were worth. Everything had bidders!


We have, to the best of our knowledge, connected all bidders and contributors. If you have not been connected or been able to communicate with your bidder/contributor please email us at:

In particular, if the contributor or the bidder asked to be reached by MeMail, there was a bug right around the time of the auction, which meant that MeMails may not have gone through. If you think you might have been affected, please email us at and we’ll try to connect you again.

+++What’s next?+++

The auction will be back! We’re scheduling it for late March 2023. We’ll put up calls for items nearer that time, but until then, please start thinking of what you might want to contribute.

On our side, we now have a little more experience and a little more time to set up a less creaky auction system. We’re already making plans around this.

+++How you can help+++

First, if there are crafty items you’d love to see, comment below! We can’t guarantee they’ll appear in the auction, or that they’ll sell if they do, but perhaps it’ll spark some ideas amongst Metafilter's talented makers.

Second, would like to add something to the auction, but can’t decide whether to do some knitting or painting or papercraft? Comment below and let other Mefites provide encouragement and help you decide.

Third, have you been involved in running an auction before, or would you like to learn on the job? Help us do better next time!

Here are some of the specific areas we’d like to improve. If you can advise us or join the auction team, email us at

- Figuring out how to open the auction up to non-US bidders and contributors.
- Researching online auction services to identify better options than the one we used, deciding if the one we currently have is adequate for our purpose.
- Improving auction mechanics (better ways of setting prices, duration, staging, etc).

Fourth, will you have some time in late February to March, when you can help us get the auction off the ground? If so, drop us a line. We'll need help with:

- Creating auction listings. Writing copy, following up with contributors for added information, giving input on auction starting prices, shortlisting images and finding open-license images, uploading text and images to the auction system and quality checks for listings other people have prepared.
- Marketing and publicity: on Metfilter and beyond. Both for the auction as a whole, and for specific items that might do especially well if publicised to the right people.
- Following up with bidders and contributors after the auction ends, by email or MeFiMail.

Fifth and most important, take part!

We’ve been so encouraged by the response to the first auction, and we’re excited for the next one to get underway in just a few months. It was a lot of work but we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.

Thank you again from the auction team - tavegyl, Glinn and JHarris - and the Steering Committee!
posted by tavegyl to Steering Committee at 7:18 AM (19 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

Also a comment from tavegyl who is time-shifted and couldn't post this herself.

We’re aware that the Fundraiser update is late as we double-check and confirm figures. Getting consistent figures has been a challenge, as we’re still in the process of setting up automated accounting structures. As we wade through the data, we want to wait till we’re 100% sure we are conveying accurate figures to the community.

This is why our weekly updates were delayed and why we have not yet reported on the fundraising drive. We absolutely know this isn’t ideal. Hopefully next year’s fundraising accounting will be easier to manage, with more visible information and automation, and thus more clarity.

We know for sure we’ve hit the Survive target - we’re currently trying to work out exactly where we are with respect to Revive. Sorry again from the Steering Committee as a whole! Until then, here’s a quick update on the auction and plans for the future.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:19 AM on December 12, 2022 [8 favorites]

Wow! This is exciting. I bid on a few items this last time, but wasn't lucky enough to win an auction looking forward to seeing what's in the next one.

I'm looking at contributing some metalwork for the garden for the next round. Currently prototyping some goods for garden stores in Chicago. Any garden lovers out there?
posted by kaelynski at 8:16 AM on December 12, 2022 [4 favorites]

I’m trying to find yarn in the various subsite colors. It’s harder than you might think! I’m trying to find sport through worsted weight because those are the best for cute crocheted objects, but finding multiple site colors in the same weight and fiber is proving elusive.

I was thinking of making a few series of the same objects made with different combos of subsite colors. Like plates of beans/cats/coasters/snowflakes/charms in blue and green, green and grey, blue and purple, etc. So those of you who would bid on something like that, what combination of subsite colors would pique your interest the most so I can focus on finding those in matching yarn textures and weights?
posted by Mizu at 8:52 AM on December 12, 2022

Wow, that's a nice chunk of change! Well done!
posted by mochapickle at 11:41 AM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

The auction will be back! We’re scheduling it for late March 2023.
Given the amount of work involved, maybe May/June is a better window for the next one? The committee would have space for other agenda items, and contributors would have time to plan donations?
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:37 PM on December 12, 2022 [1 favorite]

I could make a beach bag to contribute to the auction next time! They are really just really big totes that I happen to use as a pool bag, but obviously a bag is a bag, it holds things. I could potentially make a couple of them. Would it be fun if they were MetaFilter colors, or just whatever I would pick that I think is fun / cool?
posted by Medieval Maven at 1:18 PM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

This is a tangent, and I wouldn't be surprised if the Steering Committee already has this in mind, but any future fundraisers or other events should be planned to avoid at least December, if not November also. This is because of the holidays and U.S. elections. People have more time, energy and attention to give at other times of the year.

I realize this year is exceptional, for various reasons.
posted by NotLost at 1:55 PM on December 12, 2022 [3 favorites]

The timing of the auction was a difficult one - we're experimenting with having it 2x a year given how much of a response it got last time, but will have to see whether there's enough sustained interest in the future.

My own feeling is that there should definitely be an auction in the run-up to the holidays, i.e. when people are looking out for fun gifts for themselves and others but it can't be too close either. We eventually thought maybe they could pegged to the equinoxes? Then when writing this MeTa I panicked at the thought of committing to an auction at a specific date - can't move the equinox after all - and ended up with 'late March'.

But yes, the timing of the fundraiser was dictated more by necessity than anything else. Hopefully future Steering Committees can return it to the August dates that were more usual in the past.
posted by tavegyl at 6:02 PM on December 12, 2022 [6 favorites]

I also want to say congratulations and thank you to the auction team and everyone involved!
posted by NotLost at 8:18 PM on December 12, 2022 [2 favorites]

For an upcoming auction, I'm thinking of making some protective amulets for the digital traveller. After all, the net can be a dangerous place and we can all use some protection.
The medium would be a combination of circuit board and epoxy resin.

Is there already a good way to offer up a number of similar items?
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:13 AM on December 13, 2022

Is there already a good way to offer up a number of similar items?

This was a challenge for this auction. We got around it by setting a single price regardless of what anyone bid, i.e. the first xx bidders who bid $5 or more got the item for $5. Some people bid in multiples (eg $11) which meant we had to check with them if they wanted one item for $5 or 2 for $10, and of course all future bidders had to be asked as well, since the auction platform raised the minimum bid accordingly. A less basic auction platform might help us do this better.
posted by tavegyl at 12:57 AM on December 13, 2022 [1 favorite]

events should be planned to avoid

What I have learned from working on a big event the past couple years: there is always something major happening that you should avoid.
posted by aniola at 10:31 PM on December 13, 2022 [2 favorites]

This is tangential, but I wonder if we could also utilize the Mall as a fundraising vehicle. Some thoughts: ask vendors to give back a % of every sale (I would do this in lieu of the discount I currently offer), or offer premium placement / spotlight posts for a fee?
posted by Sweetie Darling at 3:51 AM on December 14, 2022 [4 favorites]

Thanks again to the auction team for putting this together on very short notice! It was fun to participate in, both as a donor and an unsuccessful bidder.

For crafts contributions - for whatever it's worth, my first message to the auction team was basically 'I can cross-stitch? Probably something small?' Which turned into one small piece with a set design, and a similar commission piece to complete after the auction. (Collaborating on the second design has been very fun. I was very curious to see what Metafilter would come up with, and it's great.)

mizu, I did a little playing with colors before landing on the design I ended up stitching. To me, the bright blue + green (+white) felt recognizably Metafilter.
posted by mersen at 4:18 PM on December 14, 2022 [1 favorite]

That's a good idea, Sweetie Darling, and definitely one to consider. I'll add it to our database keeping track of ideas for ongoing work and future fundraising drives.
posted by tavegyl at 5:53 AM on December 15, 2022 [3 favorites]

This is just to say that I won the hand knit socks from the last auction and they have been worth every penny.
posted by WedgedPiano at 9:01 PM on December 17, 2022 [5 favorites]

Auction and/or merch idea: Stuffed animal croutons, for petting.

Knitters, crotcheters, and sewers of Metafilter, please make this dream come true.
posted by spiderbeforesunset at 8:33 AM on December 21, 2022 [2 favorites]

Hello! It has been close to a month since the last update, and I appreciate that there was this whole holiday period in the middle of it, but a month ago the figures for the fundraiser were still being double-checked. Has this work been completed and the results of the fundraiser finalised? If not, I guess that explains why the site managed to get weeks from running out of money before anyone noticed.
posted by Merus at 9:31 PM on January 6, 2023

Thanks Merus. The work has been completed. I am not the numbers person on the Steering Committee, but I am in awe of the person who did do it, as it was a lengthy and largely manual process that involved juggling a lot of raw data. We had our January Steering Committee meeting on Friday and went over some of what the update needs to cover. We've been drafting the text over the weekend. I don't want to give a target date, as we may not be able to meet it, but we do have a draft post to work with now, so expect to see it in days rather than weeks.
posted by tavegyl at 10:39 PM on January 7, 2023 [3 favorites]

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