In this post, we share a free silent auction bid sheet template that — once upon a time — our founders used at auction fundraising events for their nonprofit. Below, we’ll provide a link to download and use it in your next silent auction.
However, keep in mind that running a silent auction with paper bid sheets has significant drawbacks. For example:
- Poor bidding experiences: Long lines at auction tables, people needing to interrupt their nights to continuously revisit auction tables and see if they’re winning or losing items, needing to remember which items they bid on, difficulty reading other bidders’ handwriting, etc.
- Disorderly auctions. Bidders walking away with bid sheets to ensure they win auction items, stealing bid sheets, intimidating other bidders (seriously, we’ve seen this), stealing pens and pencils, not following bid increments, placing bids with fake paddle numbers or names, having illegible handwriting, crowding around tables at the last minute, or continuing to try to bid after an auction has been closed.
- Frantic, labor-intensive check-out processes. Scrambling around at the end of the auction to collect or track down bid sheets, manually going through them to figure out who won each item, creating flip charts to announce winners, and manually generating invoices.
- Lost donor revenue. Guests not knowing when they’ve been outbid, not returning to auction tables to bid again (even when they’d have been willing to pay more for an item), and not being able to contact the highest bidders on certain items at the end of an event to secure payment.
- Uncollected winnings. Guests who would prefer to go home instead of waiting after the event while you tabulate winners, generate invoices, and process payments — leaving you with the unwanted situation of having to take home a lot of items, deliver them over the next several weeks, and chase down payments.
These issues cause more than just a few headaches during silent auction events — they severely limit an organization’s ability to raise funds for their cause.
Furthermore, if you’re using paper bid sheets, chances are you’re running the other key aspects of your event (ticketing and registration, check-in, etc.) with an inconvenient mix of Excel spreadsheets or patched together software solutions, which comes with its own set of issues.
So, in addition to sharing the free bid sheet template below, we’ll also walk through Handbid — the mobile bidding and auction software that we built to streamline silent auctions, provide better experiences for both event staff and guests, and help organizations raise more money.
Schedule a call for a free, personalized demo of our auction software, and learn how we can support you in meeting your fundraising goals.
How to Download and Use Our Printable Silent Auction Bid Sheet Template
Click here to download our printable silent auction bid sheet template.
The sheet includes fields for listing the following:
- Name of the item/ item description
- Auction item number
- Item value
- Bid increment
- Starting bid amount
- A table for recording bids including paddle ID number (equivalent to “bidder number” or “bidding number”), bidder name, and bid amount
Note: Some bid sheet templates have fields for bidder address and other forms of contact information, however we have excluded these for privacy reasons.
To use this sheet, you’ll need to update the text with your organization and item information in a PDF text editor, and then print out one copy per silent auction item to be placed next to that item at the auction. However, as we discussed above, this method for running a silent auction is fraught with challenges which can make running an auction an absolute mess.
So, in the rest of this post, we’ll explain how our auction software helps organizations streamline in-person auction events and most importantly — raise significantly more money than traditional auction methods.
How Handbid Streamlines Silent Auctions and Event Management
The best way to visualize how our platform works in practice is to start at the beginning, with setting up your auction in Handbid, and then walk through our features and workflows chronologically — from ticketing and registration, to running your silent auction and in-person event.
Create Branded Event Pages to Share with Your Donor Network
Using Handbid for an in-person auction, online auction, or hybrid event begins with setting up an event registration page akin to the type of page you’d create with a platform like Eventbrite.
Ultimately, you end up with an event web page where your audience can learn about, register, and buy tickets or sponsorships for your event.
Once your auction details are set up and your event page is published, it is discoverable via the event URL and inside of the Handbid app. We also offer a number of features to help with event promotion and generating signups, such as:
- Text to Engage: The ability for potential guests to send text messages to a 5-digit phone number that provides them with a customizable response set by your team, such as a link to the event registration page where guests can purchase a ticket or start bidding in the auction.
- Event Page QR Codes: An event QR code is automatically generated for you — making it simple for guests to scan the code and visit your event page.
- Social Share Buttons: Links for your organization and attendees to easily share via their social media channels.
To register, guests have the option to buy individual tickets or a sponsorship in which they can buy a table at the event and bring a defined number of guests. In both cases, guests are prompted to fill out their name and contact information (as well as the names and contact information of their guests, if they’re a sponsor).
Manage Your Guest List with Ease (No More Spreadsheets!)
With Handbid, there’s no need to export your guest list into a spreadsheet in order to manually track and manage your list.
Once registered, guest data is automatically logged into our guest list management system where event organizers have access to a variety of different tools providing the ability to:
- View their 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
In particular, our users find that our communication features are invaluable for building up more complete guest lists prior to an event. For example, it’s easy to message sponsors to remind them to fill out names and contact information for their guests, which significantly speeds up check-in experiences on the day of an event.
Compared to manually tracking and managing these actions in a spreadsheet, these features provide a far more convenient and efficient way for organizations to manage their guest lists.
Provide 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 (hand 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 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.
Drive More Auction Revenue with Mobile Bidding
With Handbid’s mobile bidding solution, paper bid sheets and all of the challenges associated with them go out the window. Your entire silent auction is run and accessed either through the web or the Handbid mobile app, and the advantages of this are significant.
For example, with mobile bidding, organizations benefit from:
- Opening up bidding before your in-person event. Traditionally, a silent auction run on paper can only begin once guests arrive at the venue. With Handbid, you can open your silent auction prior to your in-person event, allowing more time for driving auction engagement and revenue.
- People who can’t attend your live event can still participate in your auction. Handbid allows donors to place bids online, so people who can’t make the event can still bid and donate in your auction! More people bidding and donating means more revenue for your cause.
- Ensuring bid amounts follow set increments. With Handbid, people can’t ignore minimum bid increments like they can (and often do) with paper bid sheets. The system will only let them bid if they follow the minimum raise, so auction managers no longer have to deal with this issue (or the losses in revenue that result from it).
- Leveraging “Buy Now” options to drive immediate revenue. This allows guests to purchase items on the spot for a designated price, securing donation revenue and eliminating the risk that the item goes for less than its retail value during the auction.
Furthermore, our mobile app — a feature which most auction platforms do not offer — provides organizations with an unparalleled means of maximizing auction engagement, including:
- Real-time push notifications. The ability to send bidding updates to auction participants in real-time, without the need to send 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 process 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. These types of features 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 Auction or Charity Event
Beyond what we’ve discussed here, Handbid’s user-friendly auction platform includes additional tools for live auction events, paddle raises, hybrid events, online silent auctions, 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.
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