Silent Charity Auctions: Fundraising Goes Mobile

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Fortunately for fundraisers, this older model of mobile bidding systems has been replaced by an advanced mobile platform, which combines the desirable features of mobile bidding with the convenience of self-administration.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

Registration

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.

Engagement

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.​

Checkout

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.

These quick insights are meant to help you overcome the challenges of managing a fundraising campaign and we hope you have found something worthwhile here. To find out more, you can check our website Resources area or call. Thank you for your interest in MobilBid.

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