GROTON -- Auctions are a time-honored method to raise money. An online auction does extra duty. The base of donors and purchasers can be increased to include people from anywhere in the world.
The Nashua River Watershed has been holding online auctions since 2008. The spring and autumn sales have become a staple fundraiser for the Groton-based conservation group.
The featured item in this year's Holiday Auction is a one-week stay in Edinburgh, courtesy of Large Holiday Houses of Scotland.
All Pam Gilfillan, the development associate at NRWA, had to do to get the gift was ask.
"The company has been very generous," she said. They have made numerous contributions once she asked for their help after her own trip to Scotland.
Bidders from across the country visit the auction website. This can be a boon for commercial donors, increasing their potential customer base without advertising.
"This brings exposure to them," Gilfillan said.
The auction is run by BiddingForGood, a group specializing in online auctions for nonprofit groups.
"People go to the website to do their shopping," Gilfillan said.
"They feel like their holiday money is doing double-duty," she said.
Not only can they purchase a wonderful present, they are supporting nonprofit organizations.
"You can also buy things you need," she said.
Some of the donated items are very practical, like a Hess gift card and a ham from Blood Farm in Groton.
One of the most popular items on the list, at least for the people at the NRWA headquarters, is a tour of the Pepperell dam.
The tour was the first thing communications supervisor Wynne Treanor-Kvenvold mentioned.
The unusual opportunity caught Gilfillan's eye. "Where else could you get that?" she said.
She credited a dedicated, hardworking board of directors for the success in gathering the almost 70 items that have been listed so far. They have made donations and solicited others.
"I think we've got an outstanding array of good items," Gilfillan said.
The site photography was donated by Steve Briggs of Briggs Photographics in Groton.
Gilfillan is happy with the way the auction page looks.
"It makes a huge difference," she said of the images.
The NRWA founder Marion Stoddart was instrumental in cleaning the Nashua River in the 1970s. The river progressed from a waterway that could support only sewer worms in some parts to a destination for paddlers and nature lovers.
The group continues to work to protect water quality, conserving open space and encouraging careful land use in the watershed.
The auctions and activities such as guided walks and more adult education programming are making an expanding group of people aware of the center's work.
The more people become familiar with nature, the more they will care about helping the environment, Gilfillan said.
The online auction runs until Dec. 7. The NRWA is still accepting donations for the sale.
Everything available at the auction can be seen online by following the links from www.nashuariverwatershed.org.
"We need funding like any other organization to provide what's needed to run the program," she said. The auction "is a great way to acquire goods and services and support a great organization."