EBay (Nasdaq: EBAY) has stopped taking listings for its Auction for America, an ambitious plan to raise US$100 million to aid victims of the September 11th terrorist attacks, and is likely to fall well short of its goal.
EBay spokesman Kevin Pursglove told the E-Commerce Times that as of Thursday, approximately $7 million has been raised through the benefit auction. That includes a $1 million donation that EBay made to launch the charity effort in mid-September.
Pursglove said items are no longer being accepted for listing on the charity auction, but noted that many sellers listed items for sale just before the December 25th deadline, meaning it will be early next year before a final tally is available.
“Items listed before that date will be allowed to run their normal course,” Pursglove said.
The original plan, announced by EBay CEO Meg Whitman a few days after the terrorist attacks, called for EBay to raise $100 million in 100 days for six different charities set up to aid September 11th victims.
The effort was launched with the blessings of the governor and mayor of New York, and several corporate partners, including VISA, MasterCard and Discover, agreed to waive all fees connected with sales through the auction. In addition to its own donation, EBay waived all listing fees for the effort.
“This is something we have to do,” Whitman said at the time.
Help from Friends
Corporations and celebrities pitched in to help as well, with George Lucas donating Star Wars items and AOL Time Warner (NYSE: AOL), Burger King, Starbucks and the U.S. Postal Service all contributing items or services.
In setting up the auction, EBay was one of several e-commerce firms to mobilize its user base to help raise funds.
But from the start, the auction had its share of critics, including some EBay sellers who likened the effort to a publicity stunt and feared the charity sale would detract from their own earnings during the crucial holiday season.
As of Friday morning, dozens of items were still on sale on the auction page, though most were small-ticket products. The Auction for America logo has been removed from the EBay front page, where it had been a fixture for several weeks, however.
As the charity auction lapses, EBay has also lifted its ban on items related to the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That ban went into effect just hours after the planes hit the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagonin Washington, D.C.
Later, EBay modified its ban and allowed some items related to those two sites into the benefit auction. EBay said it will continue to monitor items and remove those it deems offensive.