Youth Singers of Calgary

Youth Singers of Calgary

Youth Singers of Calgary
Hearts Out at Home Logo black


Youth Singers of Calgary (YSC) is a not-for-profit performing arts organization providing the youth of Calgary with a unique opportunity to learn, explore and express themselves through performing arts. YSC was founded in 1985 by Shirley Penner – a dedicated music, arts and education graduate from colleges and universities in Chicago and Toronto.

For more than 35 years, YSC’s music, dance and theatre programs have afforded more than just the opportunity to learn and perform, but a safe haven to encourage growth, fellowship and friendships that bind performers and performing groups.

In 2009, under Shirley’s leadership, Youth Singers opened the doors to the Performing Arts Youth Centre (PAYC). Converting a former warehouse to 18,000 sq. ft. of rehearsal studios, wardrobe and sets workshops, office space, meeting rooms, a music library and much more.

PAYC has proven a valuable and well-utilized community arts space for both YSC and many local and visiting community arts groups.

Starting with just 28 junior high school students, YSC has expanded to 500 singers ranging in age from three and a half to adult, with a staff of 13 full and part-time administrators and over 30 contract artistic staff.

Youth Singers benefit from the support of a vast community of families and volunteers who collectively contribute upwards of 35,000 volunteer hours annually.

The growth and success of the group comes at the cost of increasing expenses to maintain the high standard Youth Singers have set. Volunteer efforts and fundraising are vital to the continued well-being of the organization.

As a result of the severe impact of COVID-19, Youth Singers shifted the end of the 2019-20 season online. Keeping up with the ever-changing restrictions proved tricky and, after months of creative planning, YSC made the decision to offer a hybrid online/in-person program for the 2020-21 season.

This hybrid program gave both staff and performers flexibility and enabled them to attend rehearsals, regardless of the current COVID-19 restrictions or their personal situation. The decision meant unplanned spending of thousands of dollars on technology upgrades and precautionary health measures to ensure the safety of staff and students.


For a decade, the HEARTS OUT annual gala has remained Youth Singers major fundraising event. Hosted by Youth Singers this formal evening combines companionship, dinner, and live performances with the fundraising elements of donations, pledges, and both live and silent auctions.

Proceeds from the evening are critical to the financial health of the organization.

Fortunately, the 2020 event was held in March just days before COVID-19 took the world by surprise, cancelling live events and shackling fundraising efforts. The hardworking Youth Singers volunteers breathed a huge sigh of relief that their principal event had narrowly avoided the shutdown order.

Because Youth Singers volunteers begin planning major events almost a year in advance, the concern over the deepening COVID-19 crisis, the fate of the 2021 HEARTS OUT, and the now much-needed funds, grew with each passing month.

The organization offered a public appeal:

“We need your support to continue this important mission.”
“In a year when we can’t be together physically – music has still connected us.
We need financial support now more than ever to ensure we can continue to
create meaningful programming to inspire, educate, and engage our young people.”


Everyone rose to the challenge and in the summer of 2020 unanimously decided to carry on with the popular HEARTS OUT event in 2021 by converting to a virtual format while retaining the elements supporters and guests had come to enjoy.

As the planning began, the HEARTS OUT committee decided on the original plan for two nights. HEARTS OUT at HOME and HEARTS OUT on the TOWN, intending to host a smaller, in-person dinner option – following restrictions – and a virtual option for those who could not, or did not feel comfortable going to a restaurant.

As plans became more challenging, and restrictions more stringent, the decision was made to only offer one virtual event. “HEARTS OUT at HOME” was born as volunteers and staff set to the task of moving this popular gala event to a virtual format.

Many questions arose. How could you give the guests a gala experience without an in-person gathering? How could you engage people virtually when so many were burned out from compromised workspace and Zoom meetings? Could there be a way to interact with them in real-time?

Like most social events, the evening centred around food. YSC partnered with two local small businesses, Bonterra Trattoria and Market Basket YYC, to supply boxed meals.

With an organized curbside pick-up plan, attendees picked up their meals – and a party bag filled with centrepieces, party favours, photo booth props, and more! – the afternoon before the event.

Youth Singers of Calgary Case Study 1
YSC volunteers helped organize Hearts Out at Home meal orders and party bags for curbside pickup.

This experience provided the quality meal they’d come to expect at a HEARTS OUT event and brought the gala feeling to their homes.

A live show was streamed into households – an almost four-hour program – that included pre-recorded welcome messages, trivia and games, live in-studio hosting, virtual performances, and even a live sing-along. Encouraging attendees to share pictures on social media created a feeling of community that virtual events struggle to achieve.

An important and popular feature of the HEARTS OUT event is the silent auction. For the last three years, the organization has used the MobilBid bidding platform, and the auction has always been managed by volunteers. Again, always at live events.

Youth Singers of Calgary Case Study 2
A glance behind the scenes of the in-studio, live stream, socially distanced show co-hosted hosted by Alida Lowe and Jeffrey Diodati.

This year, like everything else, the silent auction became a virtual event. It launched ahead of the event and was open for 10 days leading up to the big event.

This allowed YSC to invite a wider range of bidders and reach more than just the event attendees. The auction was promoted on social media with a simple invitation to join by texting a code word to a dedicated phone number.

MobilBid offers a flexible silent auction system that adapts easily to virtual events. Bidders use smartphones to sign into the auction from anywhere, bid in real-time, and respond to outbid alerts immediately. The payment option chosen for the event requests credit card information before bidding, then at close, the system immediately processes the winners’ cards and sends detailed receipts for item pickup.


The Youth Singers only had two choices when it came to the fate of the HEARTS OUT gala: either cancel the event outright or undertake the challenge of converting the event to a virtual experience.

The silent auction conversion was a simpler decision. Because of past usage, familiarity with the versatile MobilBid platform, and great auction items, the group had confidence the auction segment would attract bidders.

The major gamble was planning and working towards a virtual event and wondering if the intended audience would support “HEARTS OUT at HOME”. No doubt, they had a lot riding on their decision.

As the restrictions fluctuated within Calgary and Alberta, the team was feeling confident about the choice to make the gala a virtual-only event.

The lower ticket price opened the HEARTS OUT event to more YSC families than ever before. Being able to market the event to a wider audience meant increased visibility of Youth Singers in the public sector, casting a wider net to more attendees, donors, and even potential performers.

The switch to both a virtual program and a virtual gala drew the attention of local news stations who jumped at the chance to share the YSC “good news” story.


The Youth Singers of Calgary 2021 virtual fundraiser, HEARTS OUT at HOME, was a winner. In the midst of a pandemic, the overall proceeds surpassed expectations and the silent auction proceeds alone equalled those of previous years.

Staff, volunteers and students are rightfully proud of their efforts and proved once again that imagination, hard work, and perseverance can overcome even the adversity of a world pandemic.

Congratulations to the staff, students and volunteers.

“The (MobilBid) platform is easy to use. From uploading items in bulk to navigating throughout the auction process I can see in real time how bids are proceeding. If bidders have issues, I can quickly address them on the back end. This year we added Stripe mobile payment to collect pre-bidding credit card info to process payments immediately on closing. Having experienced that option, I will never go back to taking payment at checkout.”

– Stacey Schaub-Szabo, YSC Parent Volunteer and Auction Coordinator

Discover how MobilBid can help you.

MobilBid Ranked in Top 7 North American Mobile Bidding Platform Solutions

Recently, we were excited to learn that MobilBid had been included on a list of the seven most popular North American charity silent auction mobile bidding platforms. We were pleased with the news and want to share it.

OneCause, formally Bid-Pal, is a well-known U.S. company offering a suite of fundraising solutions to help non-profits plan and manage events to raise funds.

The company conducted a survey to determine the top seven mobile bidding platforms in North America using Alexa Rank, a global system that ranks millions of websites of various categories in order of popularity.

MobilBid came in fifth and was the only Canadian company to make the list.

Having compiled the information, OneCause prepared a product review on each of the companies. Within the review, the report offered the following comments on the MobilBid platform.

“A Canadian mobile bidding software platform that offers a host of auction solutions to help non-profits add efficiency to their events without sacrificing an enjoyable experience for their attendees.”

And MobilBid offers –

“Simple event creation tools that allow your non-profit to launch a customized auction event page without hassle (or tech expertise).”

“Checkout solutions to make closing out your auction an easier process. At the end of the event, bidders are automatically sent invoices for their items.”

What wasn’t mentioned is that MobilBid is bilingual English/French and processes both Canadian and American funds – and offers instant mobile payment.

You can read the full report by clicking here.

5 Steps to Setup a MobilBid Virtual Auction

Woman on Computer participating in Charity Silent Auction

Since its introduction, MobilBid has been used at more than 1000 events, raised millions of dollars, and given fundraisers an innovative, cost-effective mobile bidding platform.
MobilBid is also a popular solution for virtual or remote auctions… silent auctions held without an audience. If you are considering MobilBid for a virtual auction this guide will help.

1) Open a MobilBid Account

Virtual Auction Computer

Visit find our Account Request at the bottom of our landing page fill out the form and we’ll open an account in your name. There is no charge for an account, training fees, tech support or product upgrades. Our fee is 5.5% of monies raised.

2) Set up Your Virtual Auction

Set up Your Virtual Auction

You will receive an email invite with instructions on how to access your account. Use our setup videos to get started. Request tech help if needed. Design your auction with logos, messaging, open and closing times. Then load your items with images, descriptions, and opening bid amounts. Be sure to test your auction in a preview mode.

3) Invite Bidders

Invite bidders to your virtual auction

If you have the contact information – cell numbers or email addresses – you can invite your guests to join the virtual auction with a simple message asking them to text a keyword or phrase to the dedicated phone number for sign-up. Drive awareness and participation through social and public media, and donor lists.

4) Engage Bidders

Engage bidders in your virtual auction

Guests review items, bid, or place max bids and receive immediate outbid alerts on their personal phones. Unlimited texting keeps bidders informed and engaged in your virtual auction. Use multi-sale items and donation feature to raise more funds.

5) Checkout & Closing

Checkout and Closing your virtual auction

Checkout and closing auctions have never been easier with STRIPE mobile payment. Collect credit card info at the first bid. The system processes winners’ cards immediately at close and issues detailed receipts. Plan for central item pickup. Contact information and bidding analytics are retained for future planning.

For further information, contact Dale Carter at 855-202-4404 or

Dale Carter is the Director of New Business MobilBid at NDI, a privately-owned technology company based in Toronto, Canada focussing on the academic and non-profit markets. MobilBid is Canada’s only full-featured mobile bidding platform designed and engineered in Canada for non-profits both large and small.

A Guide to the Charity Silent Auction Technology Makeover

MobilBid Charity Silent Auctions on Mobile Screen

Five features fundraisers love about today’s charity silent auctions.

Charity silent auctions have been a mainstay of modern fundraising for decades. As popular as they are, anyone who has ever been involved agrees that silent auctions of any size are a lot of work, require astute planning, tight organization, and an army of volunteers to ensure the event is a success.

We’re talking live event silent auctions, not to be confused with Internet-based online auctions that all mimic eBay.

Like most things in the information age, the technology revolution has caught up with the silent auction and in a whirlwind of innovation, removed the tedium, added excitement, glammed the process and put the power of success at the fingertips of the organizers and the excitement in the hands of the bidders.

So, let’s take a closer look at five areas where technology has forever changed the silent auction protocol and how you can harness these changes to star in your own success story.

1) Organization and Management

No matter the size of the Charity Silent Auction, it is still necessary to gather worthwhile items. Committee members can canvas local merchants, corporations, and patrons or alternately contact a myriad of companies that can source any type of item – fine art, sports memorabilia, travel, dining, and personal experience. Special software now allows you or your event organizer to design your Charity Silent Auction online, in most cases with images, full descriptions and pre-set opening bids. This reduces upfront time and eliminates the expense of a printed catalogue while letting you add or remove items up to the very last minute. Auction items should still be displayed but hold the bid sheets and the pencils.

2) Check-in and Sign-up

Now you can forget the confusion at check-in. If you have found a provider or a program that permits bidders to use their own smartphones – marrying software technology with the popularity of mobility – guests simply register through email, an SMS prompt or shortcode. Accessing the Charity Silent Auction this way makes check-in easy. Collecting credit card information along with name and contact details provides the administrator with important data stored for later use. Some event planners arrange for attendants with tablets to assist guests who don’t have Internet access.

3) Increased Bidding

Once signed in, guests can review items, build favourite lists and place opening or maximum bids. Bidders are notified immediately if they are outbid and can respond with a keystroke… from anywhere. (Perfect for golf events.) Mobile bidding replaces the scramble to check bid sheets and jostling to markdown re-bids with a quick, seamless response that encourages friendly competition and increased bidding.

Mobile Charity Silent Auctions provide multiple administrative options and a much better guest experience. More recent platforms include the option to sell multi items at a fixed price and the popular “Fund-a-Cause” feature.

Many programs offer a leader board function that previews auction items then tracks the bidding as well as providing an opportunity to publicly recognize volunteers and thank sponsors.

4) End on a High Note!

As they say, “It’s all fun and games until it’s over.” When it’s over at conventional Charity Silent Auctions the closing usually triggers a mad rush. Organizers hurry to collect and tally bid sheets, figure out the total by the winner and then scramble to generate invoices, find the winners, and decide on a payment method.

This is the number one pitfall you want to avoid at all costs…and now you can. Make sure the system you choose offers an automatic running total of commitments by the bidder and instant invoicing at close. Letting you at the end of the evening with a few simple keystrokes, send detailed invoices to each winner’s phone within minutes of closing.

While we can’t speak for all systems…the platform we offer allows guests this time-saving feature combined with the ability to pay from their phones using a secure mobile payment system. The proceeds go straight into the organizer’s account. Once the invoice is paid, each winner is issued a receipt used to pick up the merchandise. The event closes in minutes rather than hours and even the volunteers get home on time.

Lately, we’ve discovered an increasing number of people… in some cases up to 90%… using the mobile payment option.

A new MobilBid feature asks guests to enter their credit card information as they place their first bid. When the Charity Silent Auction closes, all the winners’ cards are processed, and detailed receipts are sent to the winning bidders used to retrieve their items. No more chasing guests for payment months after the event.

And as for results, one client recently compared two similar events held a year apart. The first event used pencil and paper. A year later the same event, with about the same number and type of items and guests – using our platform saw a revenue increase of just over 78%.

We can’t promise that to all our clients, but it’s not uncommon to have increases of 35 to 50%, while some clients have doubled their expectations.

5) Bonus Feature

As a bonus, a few systems store bidding analytics with guest names and contact information for future planning. Handy for your next Charity Silent Auction.

There’s a variety of Charity Silent Auction programs on the market and a lot of them make your job easier, bring value to your efforts and improve results. If you are looking for a supplier for your next auction, ask for references and be sure they can deliver their service in Canada.

Dale Carter is the Director of New Business MobilBid at NDI, a privately-owned technology company based in Toronto, Canada focussing on the academic and non-profit markets. MobilBid is Canada’s only full-featured mobile bidding platform designed and engineered in Canada for non-profits both large and small.

Has the Smartphone Bidding Technology Rendered the “Dedicated Wireless Network” for Mobile Bidding Obsolete?

Pretty women on phones using MobilBid

The surging popularity of mobile bidding platforms and the advantages of using these systems has dramatically improved not just the streamlining of the silent auction process, but also the results – the monies raised.

Pretty women on phones using MobilBid smartphone bidding technology

Early Days of Mobile Bidding

The first companies to offer mobile bidding provided their service using pre-programmed devices – modified tablets – and a dedicated wireless network. The result being that a charity silent auction would offer two or three rented tablets per table shared by eight or a dozen guests. And a dedicated wireless network set up on site by a team of technicians to “deliver” the auction. Safe, sound, and self-contained – at a cost.

This system offered the convenience of “mobile” bidding, but the novelty – because of the cost of renting units and paying a technical team to set up and manage the auction – was expensive. Too expensive in most cases for smaller fundraisers and many non-profits.

These systems offered an improved bidding method but did little to overcome the challenges of signing guests into the auction, ongoing bidder engagement or resolve payment options and the chaos of closing. And sharing bidding devices was never a good idea.

Enter the Smartphone

More recently, as the smartphone gained popularity and mobile technology improved, better mobile bidding charity silent auction platforms have evolved. This has in most cases eliminated the need for a dedicated wireless network.

Some of these new platforms – including our own MobilBid – combine special software with smartphone bidding technology – to set up and manage the event- with advanced mobile technology to automate the entire silent auction process.

In the case of MobilBid, we set out to provide a full-featured, easy to use, effective silent auction system that could be self-managed by our clients. MobilBid has eliminated the need – and cost – of specialized technical support to set up and manage an event.

Since its introduction just a few short years ago, MobilBid is now used effectively at hundreds of silent auctions annually. MobilBid consumes very little cellphone data, is fast, efficient, easy to use, and a real crowd-pleaser.

Guests are familiar with their own phones, so there is a minimal learning curve. Phones
eliminate device sharing, the bother of logging in and out when passing devices from guest to guest and the annoying challenge of dealing with mixed-up bids and ensuing billing problems.

MobilBid uses a cellphone-based platform and works well at most venues. So, if there is an acceptable cell signal, your guests will be able to participate, view items and bid with confidence. And organizers will benefit from the full suite of features.

A Weak Cellphone Signal

Sometimes, a cellphone signal can be degraded due to geography, building design or venue location within a building, or a combination of all three. If you have any doubt about reception, we recommend testing the venue for suitability.

You can test the signal easily when you visit the site. Simply use your smartphone to access the MobilBid Real-Time Demo Auction by Texting “demo” to 647-699-0027 and observe the speed at which you can log in, browse items and make bids. If it works effectively for you, it will work for your guests.

If the ability to text and receive the initial response is good, but you find the login, browse and bid functions are slow, then you should consider providing Wi-Fi access for your guests – usually the venue manager can help.

And because of the popularity of cellphone use – think social media and messaging – in public places and at social events, many hotels and event venues now use commercial cellphone signal boosters. Certainly, worth another question for the manager.

Oh, Oh! No Signal. Now What?

If, for whatever reason, if there is no cell signal for smartphone bidding technology, then we encourage you to you consider a vendor other than MobilBid. A vendor, that can supply dedicated devices and a supporting network to run the auction, set up and managed by a team of technicians. A lot more expensive and less convenient, but certain to assure a reliable platform.

Or, if all else fails, then you can fall back on the old-fashioned paper bid sheet method to run your silent auction. Just be prepared to spend a little longer at checkout deciphering bid sheets and preparing billing invoices.

8 Quick Tips to Managing a Fundraising Campaign

8 Quick Tips to Managing a Fundraising Campaign

There is no question that managing a fundraising campaign can present challenges. Organizing a successful, full-scale fundraising campaign seems even more daunting. However, if you need to quickly learn how to fundraise for your group, or even how to plan a fundraising event, these tips can help.

1. Work Backwards from your Goal when Managing a Fundraising Campaign

When you decide to start managing a fundraising campaign, it’s important to define your goals.

Unlike a single fundraising event, a fundraising campaign must build and sustain momentum over several weeks, months or even years with close attention paid to continuity and sharing information and results with both the public and your supporters.

You can have a narrow goal, like raising money towards a specific goal, but most fundraising campaigns are multi-purpose. Aside from raising money, fundraising campaigns can be helpful in educating the public, raising awareness to gain support for a cause, or boosting community spirit.

To begin, write down your fundraising goals. You will find it easier to share them when recruiting your fundraiser committee members and in preparing informational material.

If you have the luxury of a large budget or you are willing to share a significant portion of the money you raise, you can hire a reputable charity fundraising company to lend advice or manage the entire campaign. But if you work hard to fundraise for your cause, don’t spend those fundraised dollars when you don’t have to.

2. Choose your Committee Members Carefully

Once you’ve established your fundraising objectives, it’s time to recruit your fundraiser committee members.

Chances are you will need a diverse group of individuals each with a skill set that will help you achieve your fundraising goals, and with the desire to share your ambition and work together.

When managing a fundraising campaign, you should choose to include these types of fundraising committee members:

  • A financial person to help manage the raised funds or charitable donations, and keep track of money spent
  • A communications person or publicist to help market the event and create public support (bring the bidders)
  • A great organizer to keep everyone focused on the fundraising goals
  • A team player who manages and motivates volunteers

If you are working as a third-party fundraiser to fundraise for non-profit organizations, schools, hospitals, or other groups, meet with them about your plans and align your message with theirs.  In most cases, they will share the ground rules you need to represent their cause and provide a liaison person and the resources to help ensure your success.

3. Volunteers – Everybody Knows Somebody Who Knows Somebody

Despite the insight and expertise of committee members, almost everyone agrees that the success of any fundraising venture is because of dedicated, hardworking volunteers.  Next, recruit some fundraiser volunteers!

Your first source should be your committee members.  If they have a history of helping in the community or started their involvement as fundraiser volunteers themselves, then they have a good idea of how to find potential volunteers.

If you are working with your community or as a third-party fundraiser, then once you have defined your goals, you could run local ads or ask the organization you are representing to assist in recruiting help.

When you have agreed on responsibilities for each fundraising committee member, then determine their needs and together assign volunteers.

4. There is Never Enough Time

Done properly, managing a fundraising campaign requires a lot of time and organization to run smoothly and meet the fundraising goals. To be successful a fundraising campaign requires several events, time, effort, and coordination.

One way to manage multi-events is to assign specific event management responsibilities to fundraiser committee members. As each fundraising event is completed, reassign members of that group to those fundraising events still in the planning stages.

By starting and learning from the initial events, the experience gained can be invaluable in planning the next successful fundraising event. The early events build momentum as you move further into your campaign toward the finale, which could be a major event such as a gala, to celebrate the success of your fundraising campaign.

5. Brand Your Fundraising Campaign

Never underestimate the power of branding when managing a fundraising campaign. A strong promotional brand helps draw supporters to your cause and give your campaign workers a rallying point. Promote your fundraiser brand in all your support materials, across social media channels, and on your dedicated website and donations page.

6. Decide on Types of Fundraising Events

Once you and your committee begin planning individual fundraising events and venues, you must consider the length of time your fundraising campaign will be running, the season (weather is important for outside events), and the workload of your committee and volunteer groups.

When you brainstorm fundraising ideas, use your imagination. In the past decade, technology has dramatically changed many traditional fundraising standbys. Individual donations can now be made on a dedicated donation website page or at live fundraising events through any one of several text-to-give options using smartphones.

7. Silent Charity Auctions

Silent auctions – an all-time favourite – have also undergone a major tech makeover in the past decade. Part of their popularity is their ability to work within almost any charity fundraising event:

  • Large galas
  • Small local events
  • Golf tournaments and many more

No longer are we dependent on silent auction bid sheets; technology has rekindled the popularity of silent auctions by offering a variety of auction platforms where invited guests can participate using shared tablets, computers, or smartphones. Unfortunately, the cost of these services has been out of reach for smaller non-profits and small local groups, such as schools, churches, and teams.

Early versions of this type were costly because they required technicians to build auctions and manage events. Using these platforms increased participation and bidding, but while raising more money, a good portion was lost to the added expense of consultants and technicians.

The widespread popularity of smartphones and the rise of technology led to mobile fundraising platforms that have eliminated the need for consultants and technicians and placed the programs in the hands of the fundraisers.

Our product, MobilBid, features easy-to-use software to build the auction, and a fun bidding experience that guests access using their smartphones. Along with its ease of use and flexibility, MobilBid was designed for fundraising events both large and small. And unlike many similar products with complicated pricing based on several factors, MobilBidpricing is based solely on performance.

8. The Importance of Celebrating Victories

It’s important to celebrate your victories along the way when managing a fundraising campaign to keep your team motivated and moving together toward your overall fundraising goals. Be sure to post your results on your website and social media to keep your volunteers and supporters updated on your progress.

At the same time, it’s a good idea to discuss what your members have learned from the event you are celebrating to improve performance at the next fundraising event.

From your unique fundraising ideas to the success of your fundraising campaign, never lose sight of your fundraising goals and the people who helped you reach them.

Need a Great Fundraising Idea?

Fundraising Ideas

Try mobile bidding at your next silent auction.

If you haven’t heard, mobile bidding for silent auctions is now one of the hottest fundraising trends in North America.

Mobile bidding at your next silent auction will increase your fundraising dollars, relieve stress, and make your event a huge success with guests and volunteers.

Why is mobile bidding a great fundraising idea?

Mobile bidding is a great fundraising idea because it has moved beyond the need for a team of technicians to set up and manage events, and upped the silent auction game with sleek, full-featured fundraising platforms that are affordable, effective, and easy to use. Non-profits of any size can now build and manage their own charity silent auctions and guests are able to use their own smartphones to participate.

What’s the secret?

No secret. Mobile bidding auctions can be expensive, from building an auction site to requiring technical support and the extensive optional add-on list. But at MobilBid, we have combined cutting-edge, intuitive software with today’s mobile technology to design an advanced mobile bidding auction platform that delivers ease of use and great results at a fraction of the usual cost.

So, what are the advantages of MobilBid compared to a standard paper-based auction at a charity silent auction event?

Where do we start?

  1. It’s simple – mobile bidding puts your silent auction items at your guests’ fingertips, using their own smartphones. MobilBid offers a pre-registration or quick sign-up with a text message to a special phone number, which invites guests to join in to review items and categories, and then bid using their own phones. No apps to download; no QR codes to decipher.
  2. Mobile bidding encourages guests to bid from anywhere – no more rushing back and forth to check auction bid sheets – re-bid alerts are answered with a one-click response to keep them in the game.
  3. Mobile bidding encourages competition (friendly, we hope!) and this leads to more bidding and more funds raised.
  4. MobilBid offers bidders the option to enter a maximum bid and let the system bid for them until the limit is reached when they will receive another alert.
  5. Mobile bidding even lets you invite folks not in attendance to participate.

If you are still unsure if mobile bidding is the solution for your silent auction, check out what our clients have to say.

Closing the deal

So, bidding on auction items is easy, and more people means more bids. The major challenge in any charity auction event is closing.  How does mobile bidding streamline the closing process?

Closing protocol varies from system to system; some mobile bidding programs still use a conventional close, by tabulating bids manually and then printing invoices for the winners.

MobilBid offers mobile payment – that’s just as easy as mobile bidding.  The system keeps a running total for each bidder. The moment the auction closes, detailed invoices are sent to winners with a prompt that lets them pay instantly from their phones.

Payment triggers a receipt directly to a guest’s phone, used to pick up the auction items. Guests can also pay by cash, cheque, or other merchant payment systems.

An optional feature requests credit card info before guests place their first bid. When the silent auction closes – within seconds – the system processes winners’ cards and sends detailed receipts are used to pick up their items.

Instant auction bids – instant payments – instant receipts. How much does this mobile bidding tech cost the fundraising group?

Pricing is important. We offer performance pricing based on how well our clients and our mobile bidding platform perform.  We call it transparent pricing because unlike some others, there are no hidden fees or charges.

We don’t charge for an open account, ongoing or training fees, and no user fees of any sort until the mobile bidding platform is used in an auction. Then, we charge a reasonable performance fee as a percentage on raised funds. We also offer a cap on our fee, because we respect the needs of the non-profits we serve.  Here’s the scoop on pricing.

Last but not least, we understand the importance of analytics, so we capture guest contact information and bidding stats by product and category for future planning. This data increases accuracy and ends manually collecting and recording data.  Custom reports can be arranged.

The Importance of Charity Auctions

Charity Auctions

There are reportedly more than 250,000 charity auctions held yearly in North America. This number includes live auctions – run by an auctioneer or MC – silent auctions many managed by professional auction houses that may also provide both auction items and personnel. As well as online auctions accessed through the Internet.

In many cases, large fundraising events such as galas combine live auctions with silent auctions and even online auctions. These auctions potentially raise more than $20 billion annually in North America.

So Which Type of Charity Auction is Best for Your Cause?

Charity Auctions are a great way for non-profits to raise money. Their contribution to fundraisers’ coffers can’t be denied. Charity auctions can be fun, entertaining, and create an exciting atmosphere to help raise money for a worthwhile cause.

Once you decide to plan a charity auction, your format should not just fit your fundraising goals, but should also reflect the theme of your event, and be within your budget.  So, your next decision is whether your auction is a live auction with an auctioneer, a silent auction, an online auction, or perhaps a combination.

The Pros and Cons of Each Auction Format

Live Auctions

The allure of a live charity auction, led by a professional auctioneer, is hard to resist. A room full of guests all focused on the auctioneer, driven by the excitement and competition of live bidding – a nod of the head, a simple hand gesture, or raising a paddle.
The key to the success of a live auction is the skill of the auctioneer and the quality of the auction items. Live auctions usually feature more expensive items – vacations, life experiences, art, jewellery, and luxury items. In many cases, these articles raise as much or more than their market value.

If you are considering a live auction as the main event of your fundraiser, here are some considerations:

  • A good auctioneer and support team can be expensive, as well as the cost of acquiring high-end items.
  • You may have to spend a lot of money before the gavel is dropped. But live charity auctions do raise a lot of money even though they may not fit every occasion. Many events combine a live auction with a silent auction to provide a wider range of items and the opportunity for each guest to bid at their comfort level.

Online Charity Auctions

An online auction is a “website” auction accessed through the Internet by a computer, a tablet, or any web-enabled device. Items are listed with a description and image, on dedicated websites like Charity Auctions Today, Bidding for Good, and other similar donation websites. Fundraisers can also build their own online charity auction sites as part of their regular website, or as a standalone link. With online auctions, bidders can bid anytime, anywhere.

There are many companies offering online auctions who provide a turn-key package – supplying the expertise, custom bidding sites, the items, and all the services to hold an auction. Typically, these online bidding sites are live for periods from one week up to a month, or even longer. When the event times out, the winning bidders pay and receive their items.

Online auctions of this type are popular, but not the best way to raise money. By hiring a reputable firm, you can have the entire event managed without fundraising volunteers or committees.

While you may enjoy this level of convenience, what you miss is the social interaction and excitement of a live event that in most cases delivers better results. And while most online auction companies are reputable, stories persist about those companies who simply want to use their clients’ entities to raise money, then turn over a small portion of the returns to the cause.

Silent Charity Auctions

Of all the auction formats, the silent auction has benefited most through the universal acceptance of smartphones and mobile technology.

Before the use of mobile technology, silent auctions were time-consuming and required many volunteers to manage:

  1. Items were displayed with guests crowded around bid sheets, surveying the items and writing down bids.
  2. Bidders continually found their way back to the silent auction table to check whether they had been outbid, and then placed another bid to stay in the running.
  3. When the bidding closed, volunteers gathered the bid sheets, deciphered the bidding and the billing, and then announced the winners and manually produced invoices.
  4. Winners lined up to pay and receive their items.

Bid sheet style silent auctions offer unique challenges and yet their popularity persists. Technology, however, is making silent auctions easier to manage, as mobile bidding and instant updates make the bidding happen quickly and feverishly.

What makes new silent auction bidding platforms attractive to savvy fundraisers is the convenience of managing their own auctions from setup to close and saving the expense of consultants and technicians.​

Within the last decade, several companies began to develop platforms that introduced new convenience to the silent auction process, allowing guests to access auctions, review items, and then bid – initially from shared tablets.

This advance increased silent auction bidding substantially and relieved some of the confusion of jostling to access a bid sheet by allowing bidders to respond to outbids from their tablets.

But these early systems had not yet solved the biggest challenge – the dreaded close.

Today, advanced mobile bidding platforms have moved beyond shared tablets. Bidders have the convenience of signing into a charity silent auction by texting a special number, where they can review items, bid, and answer re-bid alerts from their phones.

A few programs have solved chaotic closings by issuing detailed invoices seconds after the event ends, giving winners the option of paying from their phones. Payment triggers a receipt used to retrieve their items.

An optional feature requests credit card info upfront processes all winners’ cards immediately at close, and issues receipts for product pickup.

MobilBid, as a full-featured, scalable product, contains all of these features. Our advanced software options let you design and build an auction that not only reflects your style and brand but also allows you to build an auction to suit your needs. Cached bidding analytics and guest contact information helps fundraisers plan future events.

Whether your auction is live or silent, using mobile bidding, it’s important to choose a style and format to suit your needs.

Silent Charity Auctions: Fundraising Goes Mobile

Silent Charity Auction using MobilBid

Try mobile bidding at your next silent auction

So, you want to have a silent charity auction, but you aren’t sure where to start? You’ve been to a silent auction event or two, with paper bid sheets and guests clumping together, all trying to outbid their neighbour.

Or perhaps you’ve attended a silent auction, where a team of technicians has overseen an auction that featured mobile bidding on shared tablets or smartphones?

Well, now there is a third option that is rapidly gaining popularity. New mobile bidding platforms with advanced features and technology let you manage your own auction from start to finish at a fraction of the usual cost. And your guests use their personal smartphones to participate.

Which of these silent option ideas will you choose?

The popularity of Silent Charity Auctions

In the mid-20th century, silent charity auctions became the norm for fundraising events from large formal black-tie galas to small town charities, with parent groups raising money for schools or sports teams – and everything in between.

Modern mobile bidding innovations lead to increased guest participation, more bidding, and better- much better- results.​

Let’s face it – silent auctions made sense. To raise funds, all a fundraising group really needed was a cause, a crowd, and a display of popular auction items with paper bid sheets and pencils. This “paper system” remained the silent charity auction way for decades.

Silent Charity Auctions Come of Age

The age of technology and the universal use of computers and tablets dramatically transformed traditional silent charity auctions. Early on, charity fundraisers and non-profits suddenly had the option of electronic bidding platforms.

Initially, auctions were built by the system suppliers who also supplied technical teams to manage the events. Guests usually participated by sharing tablets to bid on auction items. Generally, closings and billings were still manual and time-consuming.

So, even though these early silent charity auction programs were easier to manage, and had the potential to be more successful, much of the raised funds were lost to consulting and management fees.

Fortunately for fundraisers, this older model of mobile bidding systems has been replaced by an advanced mobile platform, which combines the desirable features of mobile bidding with the convenience of self-administration.

Enter the Smartphone

Mobile technology makes it easier for fundraisers to design and build their own auctions. The popularity of smartphones lets guests participate, bid, and even pay, using their own phones.

New mobile bidding platforms dramatically reduce the administration required, enhance the guest experience, make less work for volunteers, and lead to better –much better – results.

The MobilBid Difference

Our company has been designing innovative online giving products for North American schools and non-profits for almost two decades. After a close study of the mobile silent charity auction offerings available, we felt we could provide a better, full-featured mobile bidding product at a cost within reach of almost all fundraisers.

With the help of several professional fundraisers and a few prominent non-profits, we decided to design and build our own product.

MobilBid offers:

  • Advanced features with easy to use software
  • Scalability for use at events large and small
  • Self-administered to eliminate the expense of technicians
  • An exciting guest bidding experience
  • Priced within the reach of any fundraiser looking to use mobile bidding.

While MobilBid was designed for use at live events, some clients have found the unique mobile features make it an excellent choice for online auctions.​

Research indicates that the three major challenges of silent charity auctions are guest registration, engagement, and checkout.


It’s no secret that convincing guests to participate in conventional paper-based silent charity auctions can be a challenge. Sure, most people are willing to review items, maybe even place an opening bid, but to track bidding and check for outbids requires donors to constantly revisit the silent auction items display to review paper bid sheets. This process is disruptive and can be chaotic, particularly in those few minutes before closing.

MobilBid offers three registration options:

  • With attendee contact information, organizers can email guests and pre-register them for the auction. Opening the auction in the preview mode lets guests review items and build their preferred lists for bidding on the day of the event.
  • At the event, placing posters or cards displaying the basic rules and the special registration phone number encourages guests to participate by simply texting the phone number on their mobile phone. The text triggers an immediate response inviting them to register for the auction. There are no complicated apps to download or QR codes to interpret.
  • A third option allows volunteers to register guests as they arrive.


An important success factor of any silent charity auction is keeping guests engaged and bidding. MobilBid instantly sends outbid alerts to let guests know they have been outbid. Guests simply respond with a keystroke. This encourages participation, friendly competition, and increased bidding.

MobilBid offers unlimited text messaging with each event used to update guests and highlight items and features. The leaderboard feature using monitors or large screens tracks the bidding and is a great way to recognize volunteers and sponsors.

MobilBid captures guest contact information and cached bidding and performance analytics to help plan future events.​


Any fundraiser or volunteer will tell you the major challenge of any silent charity auction is checkout. At paper-based silent charity auctions, when the auction ends, volunteers spring into action picking up bid sheets, deciphering the hand-written bidding, and then determining winners and preparing information for printed invoices. Some large events require hours to close.

The MobilBid platform:

  • Automatically tracks results by the bidder, so the moment the auction closes, the system begins sending detailed invoices to the winners.
  • Notices include a prompt allowing mobile payment.
  • Payment issues a receipt used to retrieve the won items. This automatic process not only saves time, but it also eliminates mistakes made by manual tabulation bidding information.

Bidders can also choose to lineup and pay with cash, cheque, or credit card.

An optional feature requests credit card information when guests place their first bid. Then at the close, the system immediately processes all the cards held by winning bidders and issues detailed receipts used to pick up the winning items.

Raise More Money

Mobile silent charity auctions simply raise more money. The popularity of self-administered auction platforms will continue to grow as more fundraisers discover that these easy-to-use systems offer all the benefits of mobile bidding at a fraction of the normal cost.