Auctions have a long history, with some of the first auctions being recorded as early as 500 B.C.  We’ve all attended auctions in a room filled with table after table of available charity auction items and bid clipboards.  Then we’ve sat wondering, sometimes for hours, if our bid is the highest.  This model is rather old-fashioned and can be rather dull.  However, with the widespread popularity and availability of smartphones, mobile bidding has made the traditional charity auction a completely fresh experience for guests.

Mobile technology has changed the face of communication, business and networking and the silent auction is no different.  Implementing mobile bidding into your silent auction can enhance the experience for your guests and most importantly drive up bids and increase profit for your cause.  Mobile bidding allows your guests to browse, bid and monitor their charity auction item from any location.  Most notably, mobile bidding provides a key difference than traditional paper bidding. Notifications sent directly to the device allows the bidder to have up-to-the-minute bid updates and encourages further bidding without ever revisiting the bidding table.  This factor alone has impacted profit margins for charities by up to 20%.  Additionally, at some events, the number of bidders has increased because of the opportunity to bid from outside of the room.

Michael Gordon, Fundraising Manager of Charity Fundraising shared his recent experiences, “Large charities are trending towards utilizing some kind of mobile bidding at their events.  Popular options like Bid Pal provide the user with their own electronic bidding device when they enter the event.  Other vendors like Auctions By Cellular, create a listing of the charity auction items that are available for bidding right on your cell phone.  Utilizing companies like these have helped our charity partners gain up to 100% more in donations than without using a mobile bidding application.”

We understand that justifying additional expenses at your non-profit event is difficult. Here are some additional benefits that mobile bidding provides to your charity auction event if increased revenue is not enough. Mobile bidding reduces the number of people necessary to execute your event.   Mobile bidding apps organize the bids and provide reports to your staff and each guest, streamlining your bidding process. This means that your staff can stay focused on your guests instead of pencil and paper.  Many mobile bidding companies provide sponsorship and advertising opportunities for your event.  Guests will see a corporate logo or sponsorship note on the mobile bidding app.  Soliciting advertising and corporate underwriting prior to the event is a great way to cover your costs up front.  If guests do not have smart phones, a tablet or kiosk can be provided to help them assist with the mobile bidding process.

If your organization decides to utilize mobile bidding applications for your charity auction event, there are several ways to transition your guests into this new process and make a mobile auction fun and exciting.

  1. Volunteers are critical.  Be sure to have a volunteer staff that is familiar with the mobile bidding process and the application you are using.  They should be available and trained to answer any troubleshooting questions about bidding and the technology being used.
  2. Have a plan for those guests that do not have a smart phone.  Most mobile bidding companies offer handheld bidding devices, tablets or bidding kiosks for those guests that do not have a smartphone available.
  3. Be sure to promote your mobile bidding plan prior to the event.  This will allow supporters that may not be able to attend the actual event the opportunity to bid on your charity auction items and donate to your charity.