Fundraising events run smoother with nonprofit online auction software. Check-in, check-out, manage registrations, packages, tables and payments—all from one interface!
Many nonprofit organizations host an annual event to raise a significant chunk of their fundraising. The most popular large fundraising format is the charity gala, usually featuring a silent auction, live auction, auction games, and paddle raise to bring in donations. While these types of events can require months of work and preparation, they also have massive fundraising power— it's worth the investment!
Auction event directors and their teams have a lot on their plate: tracking item donations and who donated them, bundling donated items into appealing auction packages, selling tickets and sponsorships, and designing a seating chart…
It's a lot of work to do by hand!—that's where event software steps in!
First, a definition: Auction management software is a digital software package that helps you run a successful nonprofit auction by automating or partially-automating common tasks, organizing guests and packages and tracking all your fundraising event data.
Most fundraising auction software packages can generate lists and reports, analyze and audit your data, foster co-working, and help keep you on schedule.
Many come with additional features to make every part of the process seamless, from ticket sales with online auctions and bidding to credit card payments.
The best auction software package doesn't stop when your event night begins—it should allow bidders to use their bid numbers to pay throughout your event, making it easy and fun to participate and give and facilitate express checkout.
Adopting auction management software pays off in the long term! Incorporating this technology into your event planning ensures you provide a quality donor experience and have the data to make your next event even better—raising more money for your nonprofit.
Not only does adding auction software to your fundraising toolkit make the tedious tasks in running a nonprofit fundraising auction event easier—it can sometimes eliminate them completely.
These software packages turn complicated (and sometimes delicate) data management procedures into a few easy clicks, so any volunteer can jump in and help. And it can even automate some of the most laborious tasks of creating bid sheets or assigning guests to tables.
Auction event software frees up more of your time to focus on the important job of fundraising.
How does the phrase go? Oh yes—"Time is money." It's never been more true than for nonprofit organizations, where every hour and every dollar needs to be doing double duty.
Many nonprofit organizations start out managing their auction events with online documents and shared spreadsheets. But spreadsheets can be clunky to use, time-consuming to keep updated, and tend to limit how many people can be working at one time. And there's a greater margin for error when everything is done by human hand—errors that come with a cost.
Auction software is designed to perform the same functions as the traditional spreadsheet, with an interface that's far easier to learn and use—meaning less time spent learning and more time working!
Most nonprofit organizations experience some volunteer turnover, so there are always new people helping with the auction who need to be brought up to speed.
But what if you could level the playing field? Rather than taking the time and resources to newbies your nonprofit's unique spreadsheet workflow, they can dive right into event software and learn it on their own time.
With just a few short software training videos, volunteers can hit the ground running and start entering data right away into auction software. And the straightforward interface means they can do it correctly—no more multi-user mistakes!
The majority of event software is based online—and accessible by team members from anywhere at any time.
This is perfect for staff and volunteers who need to work from home, or have to accommodate family and other obligations. The ability to work remotely is more important now than ever before—making distance collaboration the new norm.
The check-in and check-out process went smoothly—we could communicate with everyone in real-time through emails and text.
Having a system that can quickly calculate the donations and tell them where they stand in meeting their goal is an immeasurable asset to their chapter and makes the reporting process more accurate and much faster. And it’s all done digitally, putting an end to the paper trail from the point of sale all the way through to reporting!
We're in an era where most guests expect to buy their event tickets online. It's easier for everyone, and allows attendees to pay quickly by credit card.
Adopting event software that allows you to register guests online has an additional benefit: automatically gathering your new guest information for use in planning your auction—no more entering new attendees in the database by hand.
Auction management software with an integrated website and payment system can collect guest names, email addresses and phone numbers along with their ticket purchase, and directly pass it to the event database, where their auction activity gets recorded.
Now ticket sales can live in the same place as all other sales—making receipts and thank you letters easier than ever before.
There's always so much to do and not enough time to do it on the big event night. It's when event planners need the most help keeping everything on track and on schedule.
Silent auction event software is designed to automate guest registration, payments, and checkout. That means no more volunteers frantically writing new bidder cards, or trying to keep track of checks and cash, or tabulating totals on a calculator at the end of the night. And that means more time at your auction event to focus on guests and address the real issues as they arise.
If you've ever run a silent auction without technology, you know just how many different forms, sheets, and lists are involved. A bid sheet for every silent auction package, with starting bids and increments. A guest list for every staff member and volunteer. Table assignments, seating charts, and lists of sponsor guests. And most importantly, final receipts for all guest purchases. Wow, that's a lot—and what happens when something changes?
What if all that could be done for you? What if your computer could:
With the help of nonprofit silent auction software, it can happen for you!
Pair it with auction website software and automatically generate an online preview of your auction catalog from the packages in your database—and you didn't have to do any of it by hand!
Adopting event management software also opens the door to a big bonus: mobile bidding technology, the final step to a fully hands-off auction event. Mobile bidding also allows fully remote auction events, where bidders can participate in a silent auction from home as if they were there in person!
With mobile bidding software, bidders can browse auction packages on their devices and bid on them from anywhere—whether that's in a ballroom during dinner, at home, or from halfway across the world. And, instead of hand-entering all your final sales, simply close the silent auction and mobile auction software tells guests what they've won and instantly generates a receipt, making checkout a breeze for everyone. Just print off a list of who won which package, and you're ready for item pickup!
Introducing New Technology
Some event attendees can be a little intimidated by the idea of using their tablet, phone or computer for bidding instead of the traditional pen-and-paper bid sheet.
Online ticketing provides a great opportunity to introduce the concept of mobile bidding. When guests register for your event through the event website, you can include simple, straightforward information about how bidding will work at your event to give them a head's up.
When you get closer to event night, email out more detailed instructions. Prevent confusion on event night by allowing guests to start bidding early, and they can get used to the new interface on their own time!
Virtual Events—the New Normal
More and more nonprofit organizations are switching to online fundraisers with the help of new advances in auction software technology. It costs less, while the fundraising potential is just as high.
Mobile bidding technology has opened the door to a type of event that's more important now than ever: the fully-online, virtual auction.
Combined with an interactive live-stream and great marketing, online auction software facilitates fundraising even when your guests stay at home. Now they can browse auction items, place bids, and even buy raffle tickets and other one-time purchases.
Nonprofit organizations around the country are learning the power of virtual auctions—and are raising more money than ever!
Greater Giving’s Event package provided us with ‘the total package’—when it comes to Greater Giving, do it!
It’s always easy to get a hold of someone when you say, 'I did that wrong!' We were also thrilled with how well received the Auction Boosters were. They were wonderful packages, and it was so great we did not have to go out and procure them; we simply went to the Greater Giving site. It was all very easy.
The silent auction is only one piece of the fundraising event experience. There are two other big money-makers at charity events: the Live Auction and the Paddle Raise—sometimes called the Fund-A-Need or Special Appeal.
Live fundraising is high energy and exciting—and the best auction event software should be ready to back you up.
You're already managing your silent auction with event software—why not the live auction, too?
When comparing your options, look for an auction software company that offers live auction enhancement in the form of an auction leader board, giving board or progress monitor, to keep the live auction engaging and interactive.
Most silent auction software for non profits can handle live auctions. Print off live auction package details for auctioneers, so they know the order for presentation. After winners sign off on their final bids, simply enter the winning bidder and final sale price the same way you would with a silent auction sale.
A loyal, trusted element of the big fundraising gala: the donation appeal.
This comes in a lot of different forms—raising enough money to build a new gymnasium, funding an important project or mission, or meeting a budgetary goal to keep the organization going. Regardless of the need you plan to fund, make sure the audience knows what they're supporting. Supplement it with a video to really inspire them to raise those paddles and give!
Recording your appeals is easy with silent auction management software. Simply select a donation level and enter all the participating bid numbers, which applies a general donation "sale" to each one. Boom! Now you're ready for receipts and checkout.
One of the most tedious parts of running an auction event: writing thank you letters for hundreds of guests after the fact. A proper tax-deductible letter needs to include a list of purchases, their value and their sale price—rather arduous to do by hand.
If you're using auction management software, all your guests' purchases during an event have already been recorded. What if your software could generate all your thank-you letters for you… and automatically include their purchases?
Now all you need to do is include a kind thank-you for supporting your organization. Making guests feel appreciated for their contribution helps ensure they'll come back next year.
The most important question for a fundraiser: How to accept and process payments at your event?
Checks are unwieldy and time-consuming. Cash is not an option for big donations and purchases. Credit cards are the ideal payment for nonprofit auction checkouts, but you'll need an auction software package that offers a credit card payment processing system—or integration with one.
When comparing credit card payment providers, you'll need to understand how to integrate their service with your existing auction procedure. How do you plan to capture and store credit card information? How will you tally final payment totals for each bidder and submit the charges to the processor?
Integrated auction payment software is an event software package that includes credit card functionality—allowing you to store bidders' credit card information, and then submit it for processing after your event, when you're no longer in a rush.
The advantage to integrated payments? Just collect the bidder's card at check-in, and they can buy anything during the event simply by using their bid number.
This makes it easy for attendees to buy raffle tickets, play auction games, and bid on silent auction items. All their purchases are then associated with their bid number and by extension, their credit card on file—which makes for quick and simple billing.
The easier it is to spend money, the more money your guests will spend!
The ideal charity event software package handles all sides of the equation: selling tickets online, organizing and tracking auction items, registering guests, and processing credit card payments with the highest level of donor data security.
It should be easy to set up and use so volunteers can do it without much training or assistance. It should be secure, to protect donors' personal information. And it needs to quickly capture credit card data at registration so guests don't spend time waiting in line.
Any auction payment software option you choose should process your credit cards quickly and let you know if there are any declines to be resolved—giving you time to contact bidders for alternative methods of payment.
With only two people on staff to manage the event, using a tool that cut down on the workload was an invaluable cost saving tool.
The Jazz Arts auction hosts a cocktail and appetizer hour, VIP reception for the sponsors, a cork pull, silent and live auctions, and a fund-a-need event. Throughout the busy night, they were able to get everyone checked in and do all their data entry with ease.
The success of the Jazz Arts fundraiser exceeded their expectations and surpassed their fundraising goals, raising $20,000 over the previous year’s total! With only two people on staff to manage the event, using a tool that cut down on the workload was an invaluable cost saving tool.
Data wields immense power: data can tell us what our event guests like, what they don't like, and which factors lead them to spend more or less money. Who attends every year, and why? Data reveals trends and patterns; it shows us the tangible effects of decisions so we can decide which methods work and which don't.
Being able to manage that data and uncover its secrets is critical to building your event's success, so you need professional auction management software that can record, track, and analyze it for you.
Adopting an event management solution for this year's event will track who attended, what they bought, how much they spent, and many other key metrics.
Fast forward a few years: your event software has stored and tracked your event data for each event—creating a much fuller picture of your audience's overall preferences, so you can better tailor your offerings.
While the raw data may not mean much on its own, most auction software packages offer reporting features to make sense of it for you. In the end, that means offering more auction items that sell high, getting bigger guest turnouts, and ultimately raising more money for your nonprofit.
Do you use a Donor Management System (DMS) to track your donor database?
Donors tend to be the most active at auctions and other big fundraising events, where they pledge sponsorships, donate auction items, and bid on auction packages. Giving is usually at an all-time high.
If you use a DMS to monitor your donors and their behavior, capturing this additional event data is critical. When used correctly, auction management software will collect it all for you with minimal effort—and most packages can provide that data in a format that will import into your DMS to help build a complete picture of your donors' behavior.
Remember, when comparing charity auction software packages, there’s no right answer.
Analyze your needs as an organization, and choose software that offers the features you need at a cost you can afford. And while you can’t put a price on efficiency, convenience and accessibility, nonprofits who use software have higher bids and happier guests that speak for themselves.