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Host a Successful Online Auction and Mobile Bidding Experience


By Contributing Author

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Published September 9, 2022 Reading Time: 6 minutes

As nonprofits adapt their fundraising events to the tastes of modern attendees, their day-of-event giving strategies also require special attention and strategy in order to be successful. Whether you want to do a live auction or silent auction, sell fixed-priced items, or run a direct appeal or paddle raise, your organization needs a strong digital platform. The right fundraising event software makes it easy and enjoyable for attendees to participate, thus boosting fundraising revenue.

Mobile bidding during silent auctions, especially, is an effective way to engage your event attendees. Allow your guests to bid from their phones, and have the software in place that makes both their bidding experience and your backend operations seamless.

If you’re wondering how to do an online auction the right way, this post is for you. Learn how you can leverage mobile bidding technology to host a stellar live or silent auction—in-person, virtually, or for a hybrid event—and streamline bidding, payment collection, receipting, and reporting.

Online Auction Types and Needs

Whether you want to do a live or silent auction, or you want to host it in-person or virtually, you need the right software. You’ll want to both manage your auction and simultaneously provide a delightful bidding experience. An easy-to-use events platform like Classy Live can create a memorable attendee experience for your overall event, as well as your auction, that results in more bids and excitement to support your goals and maximize your fundraising event revenue.

There are several types of online auctions to consider. Each offers their own value and requires certain software functionalities to truly make a stellar experience for your audience.

Live Auction

live auction has an auctioneer who facilitates the bidding process, calling out each item and its bid amounts. Attendees place bids by raising their paddles or stating their desired amounts. Swift and lively, this type of auction requires your team to have a quick and easy way to record winners and help them check out.

In Classy Live, admins can quickly find winners, match them to the items they’ve won, and key in winning amounts; an email receipt is then automatically generated and sent to each winner to easily pay through self-checkout.

Silent Auction

A popular fundraising event, a silent auction has guests place bids on items using paper bid sheets or mobile bidding software. Items have limited bidding windows, and when the clock runs out, the highest bid wins the item. You can host this as a live event, virtually, or for hybrid audiences.

You need the right attendee engagement and management features to do a truly successful silent auction. Classy Live allows you to engage guests through features that make it easy to watch and bid on items, send automated activity notifications, and fire off detailed email receipts for self-checkout. Management’s made easy with your ability to automate closing times for auction items, starting bids, and increments—and more. Reporting’s a breeze as your staff can quickly pull insights into how your auction is going.

Get more details below on the specific mobile bidding features that Classy Live offers for an engaging silent auction.

Paddle Raise

During a paddle raise, the auctioneer asks for different donation amounts from the crowd, and guests raise their paddles or bid numbers to commit to a gift of that size. This is a great way to encourage guests to fund a specific initiative.

Again, your software should be able to support this fast-paced activity. Classy Live allows you to pre-set donation amounts or allow guests to enter a custom amount. A “quick add mode” enables your team to rapidly record in-person bidder numbers who commit to donating, and automated emails prompt guests to seamlessly check out on their donation amounts.

Fixed-Price Item Sales

Your nonprofit might consider fixed prices when selling items like merchandise, baked goods, candles, and more. Easily sell fixed-price items with Classy Live; you can even interweave them into your larger live or silent auction as a separate category.

Direct Giving

You might want to rally your live or virtual audience to make direct donations throughout your event. With text-to-donate, you can encourage guests to text a keyword to a provided number, which generates a URL to your donation form. Classy Live has got you covered on this feature too.

Whatever You Need, Classy Live Has Got You Covered

The Classy Live auction experience supports all of these activities for your live, virtual, or hybrid fundraising event. Dynamic features make this a smooth, engaging experience from start to finish for both your attendees and your team—from bidding, payment collection, receipting, and reporting.

Mobile Bidding: Pro Tips to Upgrade Your Silent Auction

As more and more attendees participate in mobile bidding, a digital platform like Classy Live will help you stand out from the crowd. Engage your attendees in a way that exceeds their expectations with these features and tips to up-level your mobile bidding experience and host an exceptional online auction.

Promote Your Online Auction Ahead of the Event

Consider opening and promoting your auction a week ahead of the event to encourage attendees to see what you’ll be auctioning off live the night of the event, and open your silent auction items to get bids rolling in early. You can send a direct link to your public auction page, or embed individual item links in your marketing promotions. Attendees can sort, filter, watch, and engage with items before the event.

Opening your auction early creates more excitement and engagement, and it also encourages attendees to add their payment method on file in advance of the event for a more seamless check-out experience.

Print Item Sheets for In-Person Silent Auctions

If you’re hosting an in-person silent auction, print out custom sheets for individual items, with each having a unique QR code for said item. When participants walk the room and want to bid on a certain item, they can scan the QR code and be taken directly to a unique URL to bid on it.

Automated Notifications

With Classy Live, send automated notifications to keep guests coming back and motivated to bid more. They’ll receive notifications when they’re outbid or they’ve won an item, including a receipt after their payment’s been processed.


Bulk-Edit Items

It can be quite the hassle to individually edit items in your online auction, especially if you want to make a mass change. Save your team’s time when you can make bulk edits in Classy Live, such as setting a closing time for auction items. For instance, you can set that all items will close on October 31 at 10 p.m., and all the silent auction items will automatically update.

Add Multiple Images

People like to make informed purchasing decisions. The more views or pictures they have of an item, the more information they’re armed with, which can increase their likelihood of placing a bid. If you don’t have multiple photos available, you can use related stock photos or even logos. If you’re offering autographed items or higher-priced products and brands, provide clear photos of the autograph or label.

Feature Items

When you “feature” an auction item, it moves to the top of the list and boasts a “featured” flag on it. Highlight any big-ticket or popular items that will grab people’s attention, or prioritize a fund or program that you want more eyeballs on.

Set a “Minimum Raise”

Facilitate the trajectory of the bidding process with Classy Live’s “minimum raise” feature. Your staff can set a minimum raise, or minimum increment by which a participant can bid up on an item. If you set a $50 minimum raise, for example, and the starting bid is $75, then the next bid will be $125 ($75 + $50).

Enable a “Buy Now” Option

On your silent auction items, you can offer participants a “buy now” option where they can purchase your item right away at a fixed-price. When someone selects to “buy now,” it will remove the bidding ability on that item moving forward. But, if someone outbids on that “buy now” price, the platform will remove the “buy now” price so you can make the most money off your item.

Incorporate a Direct Appeal

Apart from your procured auction items, consider incorporating a direct appeal during your event that asks guests to make a donation to your organization. This could be in the form of a paddle raise and guests can commit to specific gift amounts, which your team can quickly record in Classy Live, tie people to their gift amounts, and instantly send it to their carts for self-checkout. Users can also see a “fund-a-need” item among your auction items in Classy Live, where they can punch in a donation amount they’d like to give to a specific program.

Display Fundraising Progress

Classy Live offers you a real-time visual display of your fundraising progress, which you can use at your event to motivate people to donate. Display it behind you on a screen as you speak about how much you’ve raised and what your goals are for the night.

You can display a fundraising thermometer to visualize how close you are to your goal, or just a “total display” that states your total amount raised if you’re far from your goal. Your digital display can include all of your fundraising progress, or you can hone in on one channel like your text-to-donate progress or a specific item up for auction.

Streamline Payment Processing

Among all the tips on how to do an online auction, this is perhaps the most important one. Your nonprofit needs to offer a seamless checkout process. Classy Live provides an intuitive payment process that makes it easy for participants to pay for their auction items; each attendee has their own individual cart where they can check out for the items that they’ve won or donated to. Payment can also be accepted through cash or check, which admins can help close out.

Offer an Exceptional Mobile Bidding and Auction Experience

As you consider how to do an online auction, remember that fundraising events that match donors’ expectations are more likely to succeed, and the same goes for online auctions and the mobile bidding experience. These platform features can take your auction success and management to the next level–which, in turn, will directly influence your total funds raised. To learn more about how Classy Live can upgrade your next auction, chat with an expert today.

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Uplevel Your Auction With Mobile Bidding

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