If you’re considering investing in auction software, it’s important to understand that auction platforms fall into two main categories:
- Auction software companies with in-person event expertise
- “Free” online-only auction software companies that lack fundraising and event expertise
In our experience, organizations benefit far more from the first category because:
- Many organizations have in-person auction events as part of their fundraising efforts (even when bringing their auction management and participation online with mobile bidding software). In these cases, working with a company that has deep expertise in this area can make the difference between having a smooth and successful event, or an event that’s miserable for both event staff and guests.
- “Free” auction software isn't really free — your donors end up paying those companies in transaction fees in the form of tips that often exceed 10% of the donor’s invoice. Plus, their lack of fundraising expertise leads organizations to ultimately drive less net donation revenue than they would with paid platforms (since their software is not designed to streamline check in, handle live auctions, in-room appeals, games, and many other components that make up a great guest experience).
In this post, we’re going to share 5 auction software solutions that have track records of in-person event expertise in addition to online auction and mobile bidding solutions.
We’ll begin by discussing our auction software, Handbid, including our key features and the ways in which it differs from other platforms. Then, we’ll share 4 other auction software providers that you can consider.
In total, we’ll cover:
Let’s talk fundraising together! Schedule a call today to speak with our team and see how we can help you maximize your auction revenue.
There are a few key things that separate Handbid from other silent auction and fundraising software:
- We’re owned and operated by people who started out as fundraisers. Prior to starting Handbid, our founders Jeff and Kari Porter ran an annual fundraising event and golf tournament for their nonprofit organization, and came to deeply understand the challenges involved in running in-person auction events. To solve those challenges, they drew from Jeff’s decades of experience as a media and technology executive and Kari’s experience as a software engineer to build Handbid. Those first-hand fundraising experiences have informed the development of Handbid’s software at every stage, resulting in a platform that has been designed by fundraisers, for fundraisers — grounded in the problems that organizations need to solve. Moreover, they still manage and operate in-person fundraisers for their charity today.
- We offer a mobile app that drives auction engagement in a way that web-only solutions can’t. Surprisingly, most auction platforms (including all of those listed below) do not offer mobile apps for organizations and their donors to use when participating in auctions. They restrict bidders to participating through web browsers, which has key limitations that we’ll discuss below.
- We offer unparalleled branding, customization, and white label functionality. Handbid has a uniquely robust set of branding and customization features, as well as the option to white label our technology and create a custom auction site under your own web domain. Currently, we have not seen the level of branding customization that we offer in other solutions on the market.
Now, with these key differences in mind, we’ll walk you through the basics of how our cloud-based platform works.
Create Modern, Custom-Branded Online Auction and Event Pages
Many organizations want the ability to customize their auction website to match the look and feel of their brand. So we’ve built a robust set of tools to customize your auction event pages with colors, fonts, and images — providing the tools needed to maintain brand consistency and impress your donor base.
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 the auction renders in the Handbid mobile app.
For organizations that want a completely customized auction and mobile bidding solution, our software can also be white labeled to create a branded and custom auction experience that’s built into your own website, a unique option that’s a result of our 20+ years of experience building custom software solutions.
Ticketing, Registration, and Guest Management Tools
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 and registration, as well as 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 have the ability to:
- 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, such as broadcast messaging and text to engage, can be leveraged to ensure event attendees are kept informed, and your guest list is as complete as possible prior to the live event.
Smooth and Efficient Check-Ins at Your Live Event
Once the day of an event comes around, a lot of the leg work of check-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 the line grows longer, you can simply greet these guests (handing them a cocktail, if you wish), tell them their table number, and hand or assign them a paddle number (if there’s a live auction or paddle raise at your event).
For guests whose information you don’t yet have, or guests of sponsors who never gave you their information prior to the event, there’s a simple check-in workflow that event staff can follow on their laptop or iPhone/iPad app to quickly check these guests in.
Provide Best-In-Class Mobile Bidding Experiences Designed to Drive More Revenue
Handbid offers a modern design that’s easy to use and works just as well on mobile devices as it does on desktops. Bidders can access auction pages directly through the web via a URL, or via the Handbid mobile app (rated 4.8 stars with 23K reviews in the app store).
Unlike most online auction software, which forces auction participants to log in any time they want to explore auction items or place a bid, Handbid automatically logs in bidders and keeps them logged in no matter what device they’re on.
To enhance the bidding experience, auction participants can create favorites lists, set max bids, and easily see which auction items they’ve bid on.
Furthermore, our mobile app provides organizations with an unparalleled means of maximizing auction engagement — a feature that is not offered by the platforms shared below.
Specifically, it provides key advantages over web-based solutions, such as:
- Real-time push notifications: The ability to send bidding updates to auction participants in real-time, without the need to send messages such as outbid notifications via text message or email (which are less reliable, require a good cellular connection, and disrupt auction engagement by pulling participants out of the auction app).
- Greater ease of use: Mobile apps provide a more seamless browsing and bidding experience compared to navigating online bidding through mobile web browsers. They also have the advantage of providing accessibility features for older users that rely on increased font sizes or contrast on their devices.
- Gamification to drive more bidding and revenue: Mobile apps can leverage game mechanics to foster a greater level of interactivity and engagement with users — which, when applied to mobile bidding, can generate significant increases in auction revenue compared to static web pages. For example, the Handbid app uses countdown timers, live thermometers, leader boards, and more to gamify the bidding experience. And these are the types of features that simply cannot be replicated in the same way by auction platforms that do not offer mobile apps.
Seamless Check-Out and Payment Processing
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 and include a link where winners can pay.
Try Handbid at Your Next Event
Beyond what we’ve discussed here, Handbid’s user-friendly auction platform includes additional tools for live auction events, paddle raises, hybrid events, virtual events, peer to peer campaigns, and general giving campaigns, offering a holistic online fundraising platform for private schools, sports teams, nonprofits, and other organizations looking to hit their fundraising goals.
Both our product and customer support teams deeply understand the needs of organizations hosting fundraising events because we have extensive experience running fundraising events and charity auctions ourselves.
To see Handbid in action and talk with our team about what our auction software solution can do for you, get in touch with us for a free demo and consultation.
Greater Giving, originally known as AuctionPay, is a fundraising platform that consists of event registration, auction management, mobile bidding, and payment processing.
They’re an established player in the market with event expertise, however their software’s origins as a Windows application have caused some aspects of its interface to feel outdated on modern web browsers.
In addition, Greater Giving has only recently launched an in-house mobile bidding feature, previously outsourcing to third-party providers. This means their mobile bidding tools are relatively new and developed separately from the rest of their software.
To learn more about Greater Giving, you can visit their page and read reviews on G2.
OneCause is another long-standing fundraising software solution with in-person event expertise and tools for event management, mobile bidding, peer to peer fundraising, and more.
In reviewing what users have to say about their experiences with OneCause, overall their feelings are positive. However, recent reviews on G2 have expressed that among other things, their software isn’t always the most user-friendly, and log-in experiences can be difficult for auction participants.
So, these are things to keep in mind and ask them about should you choose to consider their software.
GiveSmart is another fundraising and donor management software that you’re likely to come across when searching for options online. Like most auction platforms, they offer tools for online auctions and mobile bidding, peer to peer fundraising, event management, and more.
In 2019, GiveSmart merged with New York-based 501 Auctions and Chicago-based Gesture to become a large conglomerate owned by Community Brands. They later added on MobileCause, another private-equity backed corporation, to shore-up their peer-to-peer and online giving product offerings. It’s unclear how their rapid growth, change, and merging of different technology platforms and customer bases has affected customer experiences — but this is worth keeping in mind.
In reviewing what users say about their experience with GiveSmart, several people remark that their site is user-friendly and easy to navigate. However, some users have also reported having poor customer service experiences, as well as issues with repeated invoicing that were difficult to resolve.
To learn more about GiveSmart, you can visit their page and read reviews on G2.
Silent Auction Pro has been around for over a decade and offers all the usual features: auctions and event management, ticketing and registration, text to give, and more.
In reviewing what people say about their product on G2, they’re generally well-liked by their user base, although certain users have remarked on user experience issues such as difficulty finding certain things in their platform, and difficulty using their seating charts functionality.
In addition, like the other solutions we’ve listed above, they’re only web-based mobile bidding and do not have a mobile app. So, this is a potential drawback to consider.
To learn more about Silent Auction Pro, you can visit their page and read reviews on G2.
Schedule a Demo to See Handbid in Action
If you’d like to receive an in-depth walkthrough of our software, speak to our team about your fundraising goals, and learn more about how we can help your organization increase auction revenue, schedule a call to speak with our team.
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