Charity auctions are popular fundraisers for nonprofits of all sizes and in a wide range of fields. From universities with hundreds of staff members to local start-up organizations, nonprofits can leverage auctions to bring in important revenue and lay the groundwork for future partnerships.
However, a modern silent auction needs the right software to succeed. By upgrading these classic events with user-friendly and convenient software, your nonprofit can maximize both attendee engagement and revenue.
Fortunately, there are a number of charity auction sites out there that allow nonprofits to host their silent auctions online with ease. Of course, with so many providers to choose from, it can be difficult to know if you're making the most optimal choice for your nonprofit.
At Handbid, we've worked with nonprofits, both big and small, in a wide range of industries to pull off successful virtual auctions. To help you make the right software choice for your nonprofit's next auction, we used our experience in the sector to assess eight of the best charity auction websites available. Use this guide to find the perfect option for your organization. Let's get started.
Handbid - Best Overall Charity Auction Site
Handbid offers the best online auction browsing experiences for both your audience and your staff members. Nonprofits, universities, faith-based organizations, sports teams, and associations have all found success with Handbid's innovative and intuitive platform.
With a user-friendly remote bidding app and push notifications, Handbid engages your guests throughout the entire silent auction. After the initial event setup, guests can scroll through your auction items, make bids, and check-out, all from the convenience of their phones.
As the top charity auction site available, Handbid has a wide range of benefits, including:
- User-friendly interface. Handbid offers native apps for both Apple iOS and Google's Android, providing event participants with the most mobile-friendly experience possible. Plus, Handbid also has an intuitive backend, allowing your staff to quickly setup charity auctions, import items, monitor bids, communicate with bidders, and generate reports.
- Comprehensive suite of tools. Along with its auction software, Handbid also provides peer-to-peer, short code text to give, and crowdfunding campaign pages. All of these integrated features offer additional opportunities to engage your audience, leading to increased revenue.
- Fully customizable branding options. You can be assured your guests will feel right at home as Handbid's extensive customization features will make your charity auction site look and feel like your own brand. These customizations include adding your logo, color palette, and other key brand elements to your auction site.
- Secure payment processing. After your auction, guests can complete checkout through Handbid's app using a variety of payment methods, including credit card, Google Pay, or Apple Pay. Handbid has invested in PCI-compliant security measures to ensure your guests' information stays safe when they pay through Handbid.
- Unbeatable customer support. New software always comes with an onboarding period. Handbid's customer support team and comprehensive knowledge base offer users unmatched support every step of the way.
With all of these features, Handbid provides a flexible, scalable charity auction platform that your nonprofit can continue using year after year, even as the organization continues to grow. This means you'll never need to worry about finding and adapting to a new solution!
With so many features available, it can be challenging to know where to start with your next charity auction. Fortunately, Handbid has a variety of coaching options available, including an auction head-start plan, which allows nonprofits to skip over initial setup steps and get straight to their auction.
Snowball - Comprehensive Charity Auction Site With Other Fundraising Tools
Snowball is a comprehensive fundraising platform, with a variety of tools, including text-to-give, email campaigns, and support for online auctions. Snowball has a free plan available, though nonprofits will have to upgrade to a premium plan to access auction functionality. Nonprofits in need of fundraising software outside of auction support can likely find what they're looking for with Snowball.
- Both long-code and short-code text-to-give. Text-to-give is one of the fastest methods for donating during an event, and Snowball's short-code text-to-give option makes it even faster, providing nonprofits' donors with an easy-to-enter five digit phone number.
- Annual or monthly contracts. If you don't need year-round fundraising support, Snowball offers both annual and monthly contracts, allowing you to implement the software you need when you need it and save money when you don't.
- Transparent pricing. Some auction providers make it easier to compare prices than others. Snowball helps nonprofits compare potential charity auction sites by publishing their pricing on their website.
- Reasonable transaction fees. Some auction platforms have a low initial price but rack up expenses through transaction fees. With Snowball, these fees are more than reasonable, putting more revenue in your nonprofit's pocket.
- Access to auction tools requires purchasing a premium plan. As mentioned, Snowball has a wide range of fundraising tools, and not every feature is available for every plan. For their charity auction site, you'll need to invest in at least their premium plan.
- Auction capability is limited compared to other top charity auction sites. Auctions aren't Snowball's primary focus, so while you can use their software to run your auction, their platform is not as robust as auction-specific solutions.
- Access to integrations requires an enterprise account. From transferring data to your CRM to promoting fundraisers with integrated marketing solutions, your event activities should be streamlined with software integrations. Nonprofits using Snowball will need to purchase their most expensive enterprise plan to gain access to their network of integrations.
Qgiv - Peer-to-Peer Charity Auction Site
Qgiv specializes in peer-to-peer software, but also features a variety of other fundraising tools, including charity auction sites. Their auction software is relatively new compared to other providers, but their platform offers nonprofits the ability to run effective peer-to-peer campaigns alongside their auction activities to drive additional revenue for the event.
- Wide range of fundraising opportunities. As mentioned, Qgiv is primarily a peer-to-peer platform, but they also provide a wide variety of other fundraising tools to help support your auctions, such as text-to-give, online donation pages, and peer-to-peer fundraisers.
- Flexible, monthly pricing. Qgiv offers monthly pricing, ensuring that nonprofits don't get locked into inescapable contracts if their budgeting needs or event calendar suddenly changes.
- Transparent pricing. Qgiv provides transparent pricing on their website with no hidden fees, allowing nonprofits to make smart shopping decisions and find a solution that fits their budget.
- High processing fees. While Qgiv has transparent, flexible pricing, their processing fees are noticeably higher than those on many other charity auction sites at 3.95% + $0.30 per transaction.
- Auction software is new and limited in scope and functionality. Platforms that have been offering auction software for years have the advantage of taking client feedback into consideration, creating a more user-friendly and built-our product. However, as a recently released solution, Qgiv's auction software has not gone through as many of these revisions as platforms with decades of experience hosting auctions.
Silent Auction Pro - Strong Support from a Charity Auction Site Provider
Silent Auction Pro has been around for almost fifteen years and is well known for its customer support. Auctions can be stressful, so it can be well worth the cost of investing in a charity auction solution that comes with a responsive and experienced support team.
- Time-tested software. Charity auction sites that have seen consistent use for over a decade have more than withstood the test of time. This means Silent Auction Pro has had more than enough time to test and perfect all of its many features, such as their text and email notifications, ticket selling tools, and automatically generated support materials.
- Helpful support team that is lauded for their responsiveness. When setting up your new software, your staff will likely come to value a responsive support team greatly.
- The software is dated and a bit complex. Silent Auction Pro's many years as a charity auction site is both a pro and a con. Its interface is simple, but not as modern as other solutions that have emerged more recently.
- Their system only offers a web-based solution for bidders. Mobile bidding is an essential for silent auctions. While Silent Auction Pro users can access the responsive charity auction site from their phones, they lack a mobile bidding app for an optimized experience.
- Live streaming is not a key platform feature. Live streaming is a fundamental component of hybrid and virtual events, especially due to lingering concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. Nonprofits using Silent Auction Pro will need to invest in a separate live streaming solution.
GiveSmart - Corporate Charity Auction Site Management Tools
GiveSmart offers mobile bidding and silent auction software as part of their suite of donor-centric fundraising tools. Owned by Community Brands, GiveSmart has strong corporate backing, giving them additional staying power that smaller software providers may not have.
- Integrated texting for end users to bid or donate. GiveSmart's auction platform has innovative texting tools, allowing your guests to place bids from their phones. Plus, nonprofits can also use GiveSmart to send automatic notifications and custom messages.
- Corporate backed. As GiveSmart is owned by Community Brands, they have corporate support, which ensures a certain level of staying power. This means nonprofits using GiveSmart won't need to worry about whether or not their software provider will continue to exist for the long haul.
- No longer directly offering on-site staffing. On-site support can be instrumental in getting your charity auction started. Unfortunately, GiveSmart only offers remote and support.
- Expensive for small auctions and charities. GiveSmart's charity auction site is designed with large and enterprise-sized organizations in mind. While smaller charities may look to upgrade to GiveSmart as their organization grows, GiveSmart's solution is not going to be cost effective for many charities.
Easy.Auction - Fastest Charity Auction Site to Set Up
Easy.Auction aims to provide the charity auction site with the fastest setup processes. Specifically, their auction websites are designed to be set up in just five minutes without sacrificing functionality. Their dashboard is relatively simple for this quick setup time, but still provides nonprofits an extensive array of tools.
- System will suggest items to participants based on keywords. Easy.Auction helps promote your items for you by directing guests to auction items based on their website searches. This can help jumpstart the bidding process for guests who aren't sure what they want and draw their attention to items that might otherwise get only a few bids.
- Allows for custom domains. Easy.Auction allows organizations to create custom domains for their charity auction site, meaning that you can create a fully branded experience starting with the link you send your guests.
- No long-term contracts. If your nonprofit is unsure about committing to an auction software, Easy.Auction's lack of a required contract and option to cancel your subscription at any time may be appealing.
- The only way a user can know if they were outbid is via email. Easy.Auction does not offer push notifications or text alerts, which means guests will need to keep their email open to stay updated on their auction bids, potentially leading to slower response times and fewer bidding wars.
- Requires setup of a custom domain. Easy.Auction's custom domains are both a strength and a weakness as they allow organizations to create unique URLs for their organization, but also require organizations to go through the steps to set up a custom domain. Less tech-savvy nonprofits may struggle with this process, especially when compared to charity auction sites that handle setup for users.
- Based in the Netherlands. While Netherlands-based organizations will likely experience no support delays, nonprofits based in the U.S. may encounter slower response times due to time zone differences.
- Focused more on commercial auctions. Easy.Auction's primary audience is not charitable causes, which means their software may be less nonprofit friendly and may be more expensive than some small nonprofit organizations can afford.
SchoolAuctions.net - Charity Auction Site for Schools
SchoolAuctions.net is a virtual and online auction platform for schools, though their platform is available for all types of organizations, including nonprofits. SchoolAuctions.net offers a flexible auction experience, allowing organizations to host in-person, hybrid, and virtual auction events. Of course, this means they also offer strong online bidding support for charity auction sites.
- Longstanding, trusted company. SchoolAuctions.net has been around for over a decade and is a well respected organization in the charity auction space. This means nonprofits that sign up for their software can feel reassured that they are dealing with a reputable company.
- Ability to run concurrent campaigns. If your organization is interested in running multiple auctions at once, SchoolAuctions.net can help you launch concurrent charity auction sites, supporting your efforts.
- Compatible with multiple payment processors. If your nonprofit uses a separate payment processor, you can easily integrate it with SchoolAuctions.net, ensuring that your guests' financial information will be secure.
- Limited use for organizations other than schools. While SchoolAuctions.net can be used by any organization, it's specifically designed for schools. Plus, nonprofits that aren't schools may confuse their guests by directing them to a charity auction site with “schoolauctions.net” in the URL.
- Less user-friendly than other platforms. As a longstanding, robust software, SchoolAuctions.net has many features. This means it may take longer for new users to master all functionalities and get comfortable with the interface.
Givebutter is a fundraising platform designed to assist nonprofits in raising funds, engaging donors, and managing donor relationships. According to Givebutter they offer a range of features including customizable donation forms, embedded donation widgets, and the ability to accept various payment options securely. The platform also provides features such as donation dedications, a goal bar to track fundraising progress, and text-to-donate and scan-to-donate options for mobile giving. Givebutter is suitable for nonprofits of all sizes, catering to a variety of professions and industries including nonprofit organizations, fundraising professionals, event planners, marketing professionals in the nonprofit sector, and higher education institutions.
- In-Person Event Expertise. According to Givebutter’s founding story, their background prior to developing their fundraising platform consisted of being students and looking for opportunities to do good in the world. They stumbled into the business of creating apps and fundraising tools to support charities and nonprofits, such as tools to embed donation forms and accept recurring donations, which led to the creation of Givebutter. However, their backgrounds were not necessarily based in having deep involvement in nonprofits and running in-person fundraising events.
- Tech Support. Givebutter offers live chat and email support for all users. However, like Donorbox, if you want to get a human on the phone (often crucial when troubleshooting during an in-person event), that’s not an option.
- "Free" Software. Givebutter's all-in-one fundraising platform is completely free to use—forever!
- "Free Software" is not free. When reviewing Givebutter pricing, you’ll notice that Givebutter is “free thanks to donor tips,” plus the fee charged by their payment processors which is 2.9% + 30¢ except ACH, which offers a reduced rate of 1.9% + 30¢ per transaction. While this can be an attractive model to nonprofits looking to keep costs down, some organizations have reported receiving complaints from donors about the request for tips. It isn’t the best look to ask donors to pay extra fees for your platform in addition to the donation they’re already making to your cause. Especially when GiveButter asks for as much as 15%. And it’s worth considering the potential costs of turning off your donors with these requests and the fact that you won’t have any idea how much GiveButter collects on these Tips. Givebutter offers an alternative payment option to disable platform tips and opt for platform fees instead. Specifically: 1% for Donation Forms, 3% for Fundraising Pages and 5% for Events & Auctions
- Coaching and Event Staffing. Givebutter offers a directory of what they call “Givebutter Experts” — third party consultants and services that can provide guidance and support to organizations that need it. So, if you want coaching or staffing support, you’ll need to do the work to connect with their network of potential service providers, as well as vet and coordinate with them to find the support you need.
- No Live Support Offered. If you want to talk to a human, this is not an option. Support is provided through live chat and email only.
DoJiggy - Charity Auction Site with Easy Item Procurement
DoJiggy is most known for its pledging fundraising tools, and they have expanded their offerings to include into a variety of fundraising platforms, including charity auctions. They also have a service that offers items that can be put up for auction, including vacation packages and other high-value items.
- Integrated live stream option. DoJiggy provides integrated live streaming features, allowing nonprofits to run their virtual and hybrid events more easily than if they had to employ a third-party tool.
- Golf Tournament software option. DoJiggy offers many fundraising tools, including Golf Tournament Software, which is fairly unique among even the most comprehensive fundraising toolkits.
- Multiple fundraising tools all integrated into one platform. Nonprofits looking for more fundraising tools in addition to a charity auction site can find what they're looking for in one integrated solution with DoJiggy.
- Variable fee of 4.9% with no cap. DoJiggy has a higher processing fee (this includes CC and peformance fees) than many other charity auction site platforms. While your nonprofit can decide whether your supporters or your organization will cover the cost, there are cheaper payment options out there in other charity auction sites.
- Limited functionality with the auction solution. DoJiggy's platform supports many fundraising tools, including auctions. This means that their auction platform is not as built-out when compared to auction-specific software solutions.
- Limited reviews users. DoJiggy is not one of the more prominent charity auction platforms. This means that nonprofits will have less guidance and previous user experiences to rely on when using the software.
The right charity auction site will set your auction up for success. When assessing providers, consider what the must-have features are for your organization.
Then, compare your must-have features and budgetary restraints to the top charity auction sites in the space to narrow down your prospective selection. Be sure to also consider each provider's training and customer support services. Once you have a shortlist of potential providers, you can start requesting demos and asking more specific questions about each platform.
After you choose the right charity auction site provider, you'll need to leverage your site effectively to make the most of your auction. To help your team prepare for your upcoming auction, check out these resources for hosting a successful auction:
- Charity Auctions: The Ultimate Guide [+Software Tips]. Learn the fundamentals of running a successful charity auction with this complete guide. Plus, gain additional insight into how to make the most of your software.
- Online and Silent Auction Software: 8 Top Providers Reviewed. There are a wide variety of online and silent auction software providers available in addition to charity auction sites. Explore our reviews of the top eight providers.
- Silent Auctions: The Complete Guide for Smarter Fundraising. Running a silent auction? Learn how to host your fundraiser, whether it's online, in-person, or hybrid with this comprehensive guide.
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