Are you on the hunt for the perfect mobile bidding platform? Whether you're just starting or have been searching for a while, we're here to help. We know the sheer number of options can be overwhelming, especially when prices range from free to a few thousand dollars. But fear not, because we're here to guide you through the landscape of options and help you find the perfect fit for you and your guests.
When selecting from various options, many of them offer similar features. However, it's important to remember that your guests' needs should be the top priority. Factors such as data protection, accessibility, security, and overall experience can greatly impact the success of your fundraising efforts. You'll want to choose user-friendly and engaging software for your guests.
Just because something is “free” doesn’t mean your guests or organization will benefit. More on “free software” later. Let's focus on finding the right platform that will be easy to use and help you raise money for your cause.
With our help, you can confidently choose a mobile bidding platform that meets your needs and exceeds your expectations. So, let's get started on this exciting journey together!
Guest’s Use of the Software
If your guest (ultimately your donor) is your top priority, here are a few questions you need to ask when deciding on mobile bidding software:
- How user-friendly and engaging is the software?
- What do guests need to do to set it up,
- What kind of experience does the software offer?
If the platform is difficult to use, it won't motivate people to bid, buy, or donate.
Companies with pricier software prioritize the user experience, as they understand that an engaged user is more likely to bid and donate, resulting in higher revenue at your event.
Does the software include a mobile app?
People spend most of their time on their mobile devices using apps and prefer them for transaction-based activities like buying tickets or making donations. Mobile apps are easy to install and can provide a more engaging experience for users. Additionally, a mobile app can automatically incorporate accessibility settings from the user's phone, such as larger fonts and high-contrast ratios.
When choosing a mobile bidding provider, it's important to consider data privacy and security.
With new laws and regulations emerging yearly, your organization must protect your donors’ data privacy. This goes way beyond securing credit card information, which a payment provider typically handles. Instead, your mobile bidding provider should help you protect your bidder's data. You should know what data the app collects, how it uses it, who owns it, and whether users can delete their data or account to comply with state and international regulations.
Companies that offer higher quality software have put in the effort and resources to ensure their programs are safe and meet the standards of various data privacy regulations such as GDPR, PIPEDA, and CCPA, among others. Protecting your donors’ data is not free, and your software solution shouldn’t be, either.
Is the software accessible?
When it comes to software for charities that serve individuals with disabilities, it's surprising how many are inaccessible. Accessibility online is similar to wheelchair ramps and automatic doors in buildings. If someone with a disability can't use the software, it's considered inaccessible. The standard providers must meet is WCAG, which governs features like screen reader support and adequate color contrast for visually impaired users.
This issue was brought to light during the COVID pandemic, forcing users to use mobile bidding software. However, there's no need to revert to paper bid sheets. Instead, opt for mobile bidding companies that are WCAG compliant. If you're unsure, don't hesitate to ask.
Companies with higher-priced software have invested time and money into making their software WGAC-compliant.
Does it integrate with your back office?
If you're thinking of cutting costs using a mix of cheaper options for ticketing, mobile bidding, payments, accounting, and reporting, think again. This approach can create security and logistical issues that cost your guests and staff valuable time. Instead, the best approach is to use a system that integrates all these functions or can integrate them automatically. Using a more robust solution saves costs and ensures maximum security. Systems that don’t integrate require your team to manually transfer data between different systems, often using spreadsheets that can contain sensitive information. These non-integrated systems increase the risk of data breaches and other security issues. In addition, non-integrated systems can cause hassle for your guests, who may have to re-enter their data or wait in line to pay at the night's end. Such issues can negatively impact the guest experience, which is not what you want.
Now let’s dive into how this creates extra work for your staff.
Many companies that offer more expensive software have created integrations with third-party systems, such as popular CRMs, and they offer APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) that can integrate with numerous web platforms.
What kind of experience can guests expect from using the software? Organizing events involves multiple elements, and it's crucial to have software that seamlessly guides guests through them. Additionally, hosting an amazing event is challenging and requires experience. Organizations wouldn't need to hire seasoned event planners if it were effortless.
What is the software company’s event management experience?
When choosing a mobile bidding company, it's important to consider their experience with fundraising events. Their software should reflect the best practices and knowledge from years of running events. While building online auction software is straightforward (bids, max bids, favorites, payments), creating software that covers all aspects of an event is much more complicated (tickets, guest lists, check-in, live auction, live streaming, paddle raises, event dashboards, broadcast messaging, checkout, and dispatch, etc.). It's essential to know who developed the software you're considering and whether any of their founders or team members have previous experience running fundraisers.
For example, if you were opening a juice bar, would you purchase blenders from Vitamix, a company with a proven track record of powering juice bars, even though it's a more expensive investment? Or would you buy cheaper blenders from Walmart knowing they don't make great smoothies and may harm customer experience? The success of a juice bar depends on good blenders, and the success of a fundraising event relies on good event management software.
Therefore, choosing a mobile bidding company that employs individuals with real event experience and expertise is crucial. Ensure their support team consists of knowledgeable staff; not offshore workers or individuals without event experience. While they may be able to reset your password, they may not be able to help with event-specific tasks.
Companies that offer more expensive software have a wealth of experience regarding events. Handbid, for example, was founded by individuals who have organized and continue to run fundraising events. Their support team includes experienced fundraisers who coach and assist customers in effectively utilizing the software.
Does the software have elements for all aspects of your event?
Using event management and mobile bidding software that covers all aspects of the event is the best way to ensure a great guest experience. These components include the ticket purchasing process, check-in, notifications, paddle raises, live auctions (in-person or hybrid), payments, and follow-up reports.
The ticketing system should allow sponsors and purchasers to easily purchase tickets, invite guests, register as bidders, and add their credit card information.
For hybrid events, the software should enable remote bidders to view live streams, bid on items, and make payments.
In-person events should have customizable dashboards for live auctions and paddle raises, and the software should be able to send customized messages and alerts to bidders for silent auctions.
Additionally, users should be able to manage their accounts, donate easily, and control their data privacy.
As you evaluate mobile bidding companies, look for those that offer a comprehensive solution to handle all aspects of your event, with a customizable interface that reflects your brand or theme and without intrusive or unwanted ads or messages.
Companies with more expensive software cover all of the elements of a typical fundraising event or campaign. The software automates the most common and critical components of the fundraiser and assists the donor or bidder in navigating through each stage easily.
Does the mobile bidding company offer coaching and options to have qualified staff on site?
If you want to provide your guests with the best possible experience, learning from experienced coaches is a good idea. When considering a mobile bidding company, it's important to look beyond just software trainers and seek out those who can help you create the best ticketing, check-in, bidding, and checkout experience using the software.
While most mobile bidding companies offer tutorials and knowledge base articles on how to use their software, it's worth investigating whether they also provide event management and fundraising resources. Look for blogs, webinars, or podcasts they may offer. This could indicate that the company has the expertise to help you improve your events.
It's also important to consider whether the mobile bidding company can provide qualified on-site staff. This means staff who can do more than just sit behind a computer and check in guests or help them bid. You'll want event staff who can advise you on improving your check-in area, help you manage your guest list, and handle any issues related to guests, bidding, and the software. They should also know how to run a checkout effectively.
Even if you feel confident in your ability to manage your event, you likely have many other responsibilities to attend to on the night of the event. From seating issues to catering and entertainment, many potential challenges could arise. If you're anxious about ensuring that everything runs smoothly, consider hiring an experienced event lead from the mobile bidding company to help you.
Many customers have shared stories of event failures that were not caused by a software glitch, but because of process breakdowns that could have been prevented by having an experienced staff member present on site.
If you're planning to raise $50,000 or more and want to ensure your guests have a great experience, companies that provide coaching and staffing services may be worth considering. While the cost of having an on-site staff person can be high (around $1,000 to $1,500 or more), it can be a valuable investment in the success of your event.
When choosing a company to provide event software, several important factors must be considered. It's crucial to have an experienced partner who can guide you through the process and help you maximize revenue. Don't just focus on price - consider the factors we discussed, and feel free to contact us with any questions. Even if you don't hire Handbid, we're happy to chat and help you find the best fit for your needs.
Before we go, it's worth mentioning the recent "Free Software" trend in event fundraising.
Free Isn’t Free
Our elders used to say, "If it seems too good to be true, it probably is." This advice rings true in life, as nothing is truly free - it's included in a fee paid by someone. For example, bags don’t “fly free” on Southwest Airlines. They include the cost of baggage in their ticket prices. If you show up at the airport with a bag but no ticket, your bag won't be able to fly for free without you.
Similarly, fundraising and event management software are not free either. Someone is paying for it, and it's important to know who that is. In the past, a sponsor would foot the bill through tech sponsorship. Nowadays, your donors are often paying for these supposedly “free” tools. These tools often impose a "tip" or "convenience fee" on your donors, averaging over 10% of their bill. While there is an option for donors to opt-out, the process is intentionally difficult. Even though it may not seem like much, these fees can add up.
Moreover, If you don't turn on "tipping," these platforms can charge at least 5% of your total revenue. So, if your event raises $100,000, your donors are paying an additional $5,000 to a software company that provides no real or applicable support to you.
When considering using certain tools, there are some important factors to remember.
- The convenience fees in the form of "tipping" can be controversial and even illegal in some states. This controversy is something to be aware of and monitor as time goes on.
- It's important to consider whether your donors know their money is going to a software company instead of directly to your organization. If they knew, would they still agree to the fee?
- It's unlikely that you will ever know how much fees your donors give to these organizations. Will the software company provide a report of these fees? It's doubtful.
- If you need to cover your technology fees, it may be better to impose a surcharge with existing mobile bidding software and keep all the money for your organization.
In short, It's best to avoid companies that use “free” pricing models, as it can be deceitful to your donors and cost you more in the long run.
We hope you found this guide helpful in understanding why mobile bidding and event management solutions range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. So don't wait - contact us today to learn more about how we can help you make your next fundraiser a success.
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