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Imagine this: your nonprofit has spent months planning a dynamic silent auction for your supporters. You’ve marketed your event extensively, created a simple registration experience, booked the venue and catering, and more. However, when the big event day comes around, your team struggles to organize and keep track of all the paper bids, and the check-out process at the end of your auction is seemingly endless.

To navigate around this issue and make the bidding experience as seamless as the rest of your auction planning process, leverage mobile bidding. Mobile bidding is a paperless bidding method that allows auction guests to bid directly from their phones, making donating easy and raising more revenue for your cause.

In addition to helping you raise more bids, mobile bidding can also simplify your entire event from beginning to end, while adding an extra level of excitement to your auctions. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started with mobile bidding, including:

  1. Benefits of Mobile Bidding
  2. Mobile Bidding Software Features
  3. How to Choose the Right Solution

Meet your donors where they are (on their phones) and make your supporter experience fun, convenient, and competitive to spur fundraising success. Let’s get started.

1. Benefits of Mobile Bidding

One of the most impactful benefits of mobile bidding is convenience. When bidding is easy and accessible during your auction, more guests will participate. Rather than getting up to check and see if they’ve been outbid on the paper sheets during a silent auction, your guests can update their bids right from their phones. Mobile bidding can even be used in live auctions to streamline and speed up the bidding process, giving attendees a more satisfying event experience.

Mobile bidding also allows for:

  • Outbid notifications: Guests stay on top of the items they’re bidding on and quickly up their bids, sparking friendly competition among your attendees.
  • Raffle ticket sales: Guests can easily purchase fixed-price items and take part in these fun add-ons to your event.
  • Donation appeals: Guests can donate directly to your cause to push you closer to the fundraising finish line. This is a great option for supporters in attendance who aren’t interested in bidding but still want to advance your cause.
  • Maximum bids: Guests can let the mobile bidding app do the work for them, automatically setting them as the next highest bidder based on the maximum bid they’re willing to give.
  • Previews: Guests can preview auction items and jumpstart their bidding before the event. This can help create some much needed pre-event buzz, giving you a headstart on meeting your fundraising goals.
  • Remote bidding: Whether you’re hosting a hybrid or virtual event, your remote attendees won’t feel left out at all with mobile bidding. They can conveniently jump in on the auction action from anywhere in the world and submit their bids, as long as they have their phone in hand.
  • Item recommendations: Modern mobile bidding software should also include auction AI capabilities, allowing you to automatically recommend items to bidders based on bidding activity and preferences.

The more ways there are to drive engagement (and bidding) in your event, the more revenue you’ll generate. Make the event fun and easy and you’ll set up your auction for success!

2. Mobile Bidding Software Features

Your mobile bidding software needs to be as user-friendly as possible from both a supporter and nonprofit team perspective. This means that it should come with a variety of tools to help your auction run smoother. Look out for these key features:

Event Management:

No one likes to wait in a long line, and your charity auction should be no exception. Typically when a charity auction opens and closes, people need to register at the start of the event and wait in line to check out at its conclusion.

Mobile bidding works to eliminate long lines and streamline your process. You’ll still want to recruit volunteers to help run your event and check guests in and out, but with mobile bidding thrown into the mix, you’ll be able to accomplish tasks like:

  • Easily capture guest information
  • Swipe credit cards for express checkout
  • Check guests in on their mobile phones
  • Include express check-in with QR Codes
  • Offer ticketing packages and add on options during registration
  • Enable guests to manage their own tickets and seating

It’s much easier when your registration process is done entirely through mobile technology. More guests will be pre-registered when they arrive and ready to jump right into the bidding process! As a result, lines will be practically nonexistent, setting your event off on the right note as soon as bidders arrive.

Item Procurement:

Your charity auction won’t make it far if you don’t procure appealing auction items that encourage higher bids. In order to manage item procurement, the OneCause guide to charity auctions recommends looking for mobile bidding software that allows donors, such as corporate sponsors, to donate items online and makes it easy to track the progress of obtaining these items.

For example, you should be able to:

  • Generate solicitation letters
  • Track the status of each item
  • Log each item’s location
  • Bundle items into packages

Item procurement doesn’t have to be a daunting task, but it’s still important to find items that will encourage donors to place bids and keep them excited and engaged. For example, gift baskets, travel packages, and nonprofit merchandise are all popular options to encourage bidding.


Mobile bidding is also meant to help motivate and further engage your guests. When you add gamification elements to your event, you can encourage friendly competition among your bidders and inspire others to get their names on the board, too.

For example, you can:

  • Showcase current bids at your event
  • Highlight donation progress with a fundraising thermometer
  • Recognize donors in a leadership board
  • Include live chat, emojis, and other fun engagement drivers

Gamification is a great feature of mobile bidding that will make your event more engaging. Raise the revenue you need and create long-term relationships with your guests as a result of their positive experience.

Data Tracking

One of the most important parts of running a charity auction is managing and acting on your data. When you can successfully track analytics from your event, you’ll understand how your auction performed, including:

  • What items were popular and sold well
  • What items attracted less interest and bidding attention
  • The gamification and engagement tactics that resonated with your audience
  • Whether you were able to meet your fundraising goal

You can then leverage these data-driven insights to host an even better event next time. But you can also take this a step further by tracking donor activity even before your event begins.

For example, if you take a look at your registration list so far and notice you have major donors who haven’t RSVP’d for your auction yet, you can reach out to them personally and invite them with a handwritten note or phone call. This can help increase your chances of raising more from their bids and further cultivate your relationship with them.

Your software should also integrate with your CRM so you can keep track of guest information. This will allow you to organize your donations and registrations, and customize post-event thank-you messages to those who attended or donated in some way. eCardWidget’s guide to thanking donors recommends sharing thank-you notes that greet attendees with their first names, reference their specific donation, and explain how it made an impact on your mission. This custom touch will help grow stronger supporter relationships and encourage them to attend your next auction.

Staying on top of your data is the key to forging long-term relationships with your donor base, but also putting on successful events. Make your charity auction stand out with a great foundation built from your data-driven insights.

3. Choosing the Right Solution

Whether you’re new to the fundraising scene or a seasoned professional, planning an event takes a lot of organization, resources, and people. Incorporating software into the mix can help to streamline your planning process, keep your guests engaged, and drive the revenue you need.

It’s important to pick the right software for your organization and budget so you can increase fundraising efficiency and ROI. Follow these steps to make the right investment for you:

  1. Take a close look at your current strategy and decide what you need. Look at areas of your auctions that need improvement. For example, are you using paper bid sheets that are difficult to decipher at the end of the night? Are you relying on manual spreadsheets to track donor activity at your auction? The right auction fundraising software, with mobile-friendly bidding features, will simplify your entire event execution.
  2. Look at your budget. While the upfront investment may seem like a lot, it can be worth it down the line if you bring in more revenue from your auctions. Keep this in mind as you determine which solution is best-fitted for your needs and budget.
  3. Reflect on your greater fundraising needs. Your nonprofit likely hosts other fundraisers apart from auctions, including lively events like fundraising galas, walk-a-thons, peer-to-peer campaigns, and more. You’ll need a software solution that will empower you to lead fundraisers of any type and size, whether you’re taking the entire process online or going for an in-person or hybrid approach.

Opt for a mobile bidding and fundraising solution that will provide the most value year over year so you can maximize your earning potential.

If you’re seeking an easy way to level up your auctions and ease your administrative stress, look no further than mobile bidding! Mobile bidding is the perfect solution to make bidding fun, interactive, and convenient, all while helping your organization bring in more revenue. Make sure to invest in auction fundraising software that comes with mobile bidding, event management features, and other critical tools to streamline your next auction experience.

About the Author:

Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and sales/marketing experience to her role as the Director of Content Marketing for OneCause. As a member of the OneCause sales and marketing team, Kelly manages all of the company’s content strategy and execution. She is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors raise more funds for their cause.

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