Has the Smartphone 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

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 – 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 login, 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, 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.

Eight Quick Tips on How to Manage a Fundraising Campaign

There is no question that organizing a fundraising event 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 you decide to start 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.

For a successful 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, fundraising campaigns require 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. 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 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.