Auction Planning

Silent Auction App: Drive More Revenue with Handbid

Learn what separates Handbid’s silent auction app from other solutions.
Silent Auction App: Drive More Revenue with Handbid
Learn what separates Handbid’s silent auction app from other solutions.

Auction apps can be transformative for charities and nonprofit organizations that want to grow their auction revenue. For example, our client Liz Scull of The Voilà Foundation said that their auction revenue increased by more than seven times (from $3K to over $23K in their auction) when they transitioned to using our auction software, Handbid. 

With that said, not all auction software is capable of generating that level of revenue growth. Specifically, auction platforms often fall short in two key areas:

  1. Bidder User Experience: Many auction platforms have outdated user interfaces that our customers have described as “clunky to use.” The look, feel, and usability of an auction platform may seem trivial — but in our experience, these aspects are not trivial. A clean, modern design is integral for maximizing donor engagement and bidding. If your mobile bidding software feels like a 1980s video game or forces bidders to repeatedly log in whenever they want to browse auction items (surprisingly common), your silent auction revenue will reflect that.

  2. Bidder Engagement: Many of the top online auction platforms (including OneCause and GiveSmart, Greater Giving, etc.) strictly offer web-based mobile bidding apps, restricting auction participation to web browsers (whether via mobile or desktop devices) and notifying users about bid statuses strictly via email or SMS. As a result, bidders are pulled out of the auction environment to reference emails and text messages, which can disrupt engagement, and there’s less reliability in the timeliness of when bidders receive alerts. In contrast, mobile apps — like what we offer at Handbid — provide the ability to leverage push notifications (which users can receive instantly, regardless of cell signal) and gamification that keep donors coming back throughout the course of an auction, ultimately driving more engagement and revenue. 

Combined, bidder user experience and engagement can make or break your auction, and we’ve considered this at every stage while developing Handbid. 

In this post, we’ll walk you through how our auction platform works, including:

Schedule a call for a free, personalized demo of our auction software, and learn how we can support you in meeting your fundraising goals.

Browse Items for Event

Over the years, many organizations expressed to us that they wanted the ability to customize their auction website to match the look and feel of their brand. 

As a result, we’ve built extensive tools for organizations to customize their fundraising event pages with colors, fonts, and images, providing them with the tools they need to maintain brand consistency and impress their donor base. 

Theme Editor: Manage your event's digital presence

Handbid users can customize everything from logos, to header and footer images, to gradients and button colors, to menu and event page labels. In addition, these design elements can be applied to the way auction pages render in the Handbid mobile app.

Handbid app example with customization

For organizations that want a completely customized auction and mobile bidding solution, Handbid’s technology can also be white-labeled to create a branded and custom auction experience under your own web domain, a unique option resulting from our 20+ years of experience building custom software solutions. 

Browse Items in Event example
A screenshot example of white labeling our technology under a client’s web domain, allowing them to offer and run online auctions directly through their website.

We have not seen this level of design customizability in other auction software on the market. If design is important to your organization, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better set of customization tools than Handbid offers.

A User-Friendly Interface with Mobile-First Design

Travel Bid options example

As mentioned above, providing your donor base with a clean, intuitive user interface is essential for maximizing auction participation. In particular, usability from mobile devices is key because if auction sites are not mobile-friendly, this can significantly hinder the mobile auction experience and reduce participation.

Handbid offers a modern design that’s easy to use and works just as well on mobile devices as on desktops. Bidders can access auction pages directly through the web via a URL or the Handbid mobile app (rated 4.8 stars with 23K reviews in the app store). 

Gamification Features That Maximize Auction Engagement

My Dashboard in Handbid

The Handbid mobile app (available on Android and iOS devices) provides organizations an unparalleled means of maximizing auction engagement. Specifically, it has been carefully engineered to leverage game mechanics that drive more auction participation and revenue. 

For example, we understand that the purpose of an outbid notification is not just to tell the user they’ve been outbid — it’s to invoke an emotional response in the bidder that compels them to feel challenged and respond. The Handbid app does this by vibrating the phone, changing the screen color, and playing a sound, providing a fun and motivating experience to keep “playing” and bidding.

Winning Notification

We also offer features such as: 

  • A countdown timer to generate a sense of urgency in bidders.
  • A live thermometer invokes the desire to be seen as generous.
  • Leaderboards that tap into bidders’ competitive nature.
  • Personalized alerts to end users that can be sent en masse from auction managers.
  • Managers can enable integrated live chat to allow guests to communicate with each other.

These types of features simply cannot be replicated similarly by auction platforms that do not offer mobile apps.

Note: Some organizations do not want their donors to download an app to participate in their auction. That’s not a problem. Handbid’s auction pages are just as easy to use when accessing the web. Auction notifications can be sent via text to bidders that choose not to download the app. But for all the reasons discussed above, our customers who utilize the app see even higher levels of online bidding and revenue.

A Seamless Log-In Experience for Bidders

To participate in an auction that’s run with mobile bidding software, bidders need to log in to the platform that’s being used. 

However, many auction sites make this process arduous for bidders, forcing them to log in any time they want to explore auction items or place bids, or wait on an account validation email that can take precious minutes (or hours, sometimes) to arrive. These barriers to entry can severely limit auction participation and revenue.

To solve this, Handbid offers smart links and universal accounts set up to automatically log in bidders and keep them logged in no matter what device they’re on. This applies whether bidders are accessing the auction via the web or our mobile app, providing a smoother bidding process and leading to higher engagement. 

In addition, once a bidder has a Handbid account, they can be notified about and join your next auction, allowing you to seamlessly maintain and grow participation in future auctions. 

Tools to Promote Your Auction and Easily Communicate with Bidders

Broadcast a message: Messages can be sent via PUSH or SMS.

The ability to promote your auction and communicate with participants is fundamental to an auction’s success. Handbid offers a wide range of tools to support this, including:

  • Text to Engage: The ability for your donor network to send text messages to a 5-digit short code that provides them with a message set by your team, such as a link to the auction registration page where guests can purchase a ticket to a live event or start bidding in your auction.

    Note: Many auction software use 7 or 10-digit phone numbers for text to engage that is difficult for donors to remember (and also highly regulated). Our clients tell us they love the short 5-digit shortcode we offer.

  • Broadcast Messaging: Outbound messaging allows auction and event managers to send out updates to participants throughout an auction. For example, you can send out a broadcast letting bidders know the auction has one day left before closing, or send out thank you notes to participants once the auction ends. 
  • Auction Site QR Codes: An auction QR code is automatically generated for you — making it simple for donors to scan the code and visit your auction page.
  • Social Share Buttons: Links for your organization and donors to easily share your auction (as well as individual auction items) via their social media channels.

By empowering organizations with the tools they need to promote their auction, send timely communications to auction participants, and provide a mobile-friendly experience, Handbid drives silent auction engagement far beyond what paper bid sheets or less sophisticated online auction software are capable of.

Note: Handbid subscriptions also include fundraising tools for live auction events, virtual events, paddle raises, hybrid events with live streaming, peer-to-peer fundraising, text2give, and general fundraising campaigns, offering a holistic online fundraising platform for private schools, sports teams, nonprofits, and other organizations looking to maximize their fundraising efforts. 

Lasso Extravaganza Guest List

Many organizations we speak with do not realize that auction management software like ours also offers tools and integrations for managing auctions with live fundraising events. 

For example, in addition to the auction and mobile bidding features we’ve discussed, our cloud-based platform offers robust functionality for ticketing and registration, guest list management, check-in/check-out, and more. As a result, by using Handbid, organizations can reduce the number of tools and platforms needed to manage and run their events.

Here we’ll look at a few of the essential features we offer for streamlining in-person auction event management.

Ticketing, Registration, and Guest List Management

With Handbid, there’s no need to use ticketing platforms such as Eventbrite, or deal with the hassle of using spreadsheets to manage your guest list. We offer all the tools you need to handle ticketing, registration, and guest list management.

From your auction event page, guests can purchase tickets for individuals or sponsorships for groups. Once they’ve registered, they’re automatically added to your guest list inside Handbid in real-time (where their credit card information has been securely stored), and event managers can:

  • View their up-to-date guest list.
  • Filter their guest list by different criteria such as sponsors, guests, etc.
  • Check-in guests with a built-in QR code reader (including scanning their tickets at the door and securely swiping credit cards).
  • Send messages to guests and sponsors.
  • Assign paddle and table numbers.
  • And more!

Our communication features can all be leveraged from your guest list to ensure event attendees are kept informed and your guest list is as complete as possible before the live event.

Seamless Check-In, Check-Out, and Payment Processing

Once the day of your event arrives, much of the work involved in checking guests in has already been done. For example, individual ticket holders that bought their tickets have already:

  • Given you their name and contact information.
  • Given you their credit card information.
  • Been added to your guest list.

So, instead of needing to capture all of this information manually as your check-in line grows longer, you can simply greet your guests (handing them a cocktail, if you wish), tell them their table number, and hand or assign them a paddle (if there’s a live auction or paddle raise at your event).

For guests whose information you do not yet have or guests of sponsors who never gave you their information before the event, event staff can follow a simple check-in workflow on their laptop or iPhone/iPad/Android to check these guests in quickly.

Once you decide to close the auction, you can set a timer for guests to place their final bids. At that point, Handbid will calculate winners, update everyone’s dashboard accordingly, and send notifications to winning bidders, letting them know they’ve officially won.  

Finally, to streamline the check-out process, all bidders are automatically sent to their digital invoice in the app where they can view and pay with their previously stored “card on file”. Invoices can also be sent via text or email, including a link where winners can pay. 

Payment Invoice within the Handbid app

Live Event Telephone Support with a Direct Line to Real Humans! 

Unlike many of our competitors, which direct calls to automated voicemail queues or strictly offer chat and email support, Handbid offers a tech support hotline — included in all of our plans — connecting you directly to our team during your live events. Our customers find this to be invaluable for navigating issues they sometimes encounter during an event.

One-on-One Coaching Services

In addition to our extensive knowledge base that provides in-depth tutorials on each platform feature, we offer pricing plans that include one-on-one coaching to help our clients get the absolute most out of Handbid.

Our expert coaches help our clients navigate the common challenges of event management, including:

  • How to set up different types of events in Handbid and utilize it for a variety of fundraising initiatives
  • How to promote your events and sell more tickets
  • How to make the check-in process as seamless as possible
  • How to reduce lines and stress during live events
  • And more

While our platform is highly intuitive, many of our clients find that they drive more net revenue when investing in our “Done With You” plans, including this coaching.

Onsite Staffing

Like the other major platforms in our space, we have onsite event staffing options for organizations that want or need them.

For a more in-depth walkthrough of our event management features, including ticketing and registration, guest list management, check-in, check-out, and more, check out our post on fundraising event software.

See if Handbid Is the Right Solution for Your Next Nonprofit or Charity Auction

In this post, we’ve explored some of the key features our platform offers to help charities bring their auctions online and raise more money. However, there’s far more to our auction and fundraising software than what we’ve covered here.

Schedule a call to chat with our team to get an in-depth demo of our auction software and learn how we can support you in meeting your fundraising goals.

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