Event Planning
Auction Planning

Silent Auction Software: 12 Top Providers Reviewed

Online and silent auction software allows your organization to raise money and connect with supporters. Use our reviews to choose the right provider for you.
Get the rundown on top silent auction software providers
Online and silent auction software allows your organization to raise money and connect with supporters. Use our reviews to choose the right provider for you.

The landscape of fundraising has changed dramatically, with more organizations turning to virtual and hybrid events to expand their reach and giving their donors a wider variety of ways to donate in order to accelerate their fundraising goals. Fortunately, fundraising technology has continued to evolve to meet this need, providing organizations with a number of event software providers to choose from, especially for silent auctions.

Online and silent auction software can transform both in-person and online auctions for the better. From keeping auction items organized, to making the event accessible to more bidders, it has proven its efficiency and effectiveness for organizations both large and small. However, with so many options, some organizations may feel overwhelmed trying to compare providers. To help give you a starting point, our team at Handbid has meticulously researched the best silent auction software providers around, and we’re giving you all the details in this article.

Is There an App for a Silent Auction?

In today's digital age, there seems to be an app for just about everything. And when it comes to hosting silent auctions, there's no exception. Traditional paper bid sheets are painstakingly antiquated and pose high risk for losing information. I mean how many times have you misplaced a piece of paper? Mobile apps of all sorts have revolutionized silent auctions. These apps, developed by various providers, offer ways for organizations to smoothly boost fundraising efforts.

Keep in mind that not all apps are created equally. But we know that doing research on all the various apps can be overwhelming and there's more to worry about than the bottom line. That's why our team of silent auction experts have compiled this work for you! Make sure to read on to figure out what app works best for your event and your overall organization.

What Should You Look For in Silent Auction Software?

We've worked with thousands of organizations to pull off engaging silent auctions that inspire, support, and lead to lasting donor relationships. We understand what it takes to create a standout event and how the right tools can take your efforts to the next level. Using our first-hand experience, we've identified several key characteristics to look for when assessing silent auction software:

Why You Should Consider Native Apps for Mobile Bidding

This may seem like a long list of features, but many of these items, such as data security and a user-friendly interface, are fundamental. Beyond these basics, different providers will excel in different ways, meaning your organization should find a silent auction software provider that has all these features and that meets your organization's unique needs.

Not all auction software includes native apps, which may limit the accessibility and convenience for users. Based on our experiences, we recommend looking for an auction software that does offer a native app to make things easier for your team and your audience.

Native apps are specifically designed for a particular operating system and can provide a smoother and more efficient experience for users. This means users can access the auction platform anytime, anywhere through their mobile devices without having to use a web browser. Additionally, native apps often have more advanced features and capabilities, making the auction process smoother and faster for both buyers and sellers.

Explore the best overall silent auction software, Handbid.

 

Handbid - Best Overall Silent Auction Software

Overview

Handbid was originally created because, as event experts, we believe that every fundraising event should be successful, and that comes from smooth, streamlined processes for your guests and easy-to-use software. Handbid has supported thousands of auctions, helping nonprofits raise hundreds of millions of dollars in a wide range of industries, operating all around the world.

Handbid's services have expanded to include additional event management tools, such as ticketing, registration, automated guest check-in, live-streaming, peer-to-peer fundraising, text-to-give, crowdfunding campaign support, and more. However, even as Handbid has grown, it hasn't strayed from its roots of being user-friendly, providing all of these tools in one intuitive system. 

What We Like

Handbid's ease of use and extensive suite of tools has made it the preferred online auction software of thousands of organizations, both big and small. Here is a shortlist of why we agree that Handbid is the best overall silent auction software available:

Things to Consider 

Handbid is a robust, flexible software that can support in-person, hybrid, and virtual events. Plus, Handbid's Event Toolkit includes other features such as a custom theme editor, text-to-give, and peer-to-peer capabilities.

Handbid gives users the power of choice and control over their auctions. While the bidder experience requires very little explanation, using the software can be a bit overwhelming for event managers at first. Like most software solutions, new users will need to go through an onboarding process to set up and learn the system. More tech-savvy users can experiment on their own, while those who prefer being guided through the process of accelerating their learning will benefit from Handbid’s extensive library of articles and videos in its knowledge base. 

Learn more about the Qgiv, a peer-to-peer software solution that recently added silent auction software.

Qgiv - Peer-to-Peer Software Recently Adding Silent Auction Software

Overview

Historically, Qgiv has primarily offered peer-to-peer and online donation services. However, they have recently expanded their offerings to include basic silent auction software features. Their new auction software has both a web-based interface and native apps for iPhone and Google, although the recent launches of both native apps mean they have limited reviews and may require further research before making an investment. 

What We Like

  • Monthly subscriptions. By allowing organizations to purchase software month-to-month, Qgiv provides flexibility for organizations that do not need online auction software year-round. 
  • A suite of fundraising tools. In addition to auction software, Qgiv's fundraising software also includes support for recurring donations, peer-to-peer, text-to-give, and crowdfunding.
  • Transparent pricing. We love that Qgiv publishes their pricing!

Things to Consider 

  • High credit card processing fees. Qgiv charges more to process credit cards than most of its competitors. These costs will add up with each transaction and can impact an auction's potential revenue. 
  • New software and mobile apps. New fundraising tools can be exciting to try out, but they may also need further refining as they have yet to be tested by a large-scale audience. Additionally, silent auction software is notable for being particularly difficult to engineer when compared to other event-based fundraising tools. This means organizations that primarily offer silent auction software and expand to offer other fundraising solutions tend to be more reliable than those that add auction software later. 

SchoolAuction.net is the best silent auction software designed for schools.

SchoolAuction.net - Silent Auction Software Designed for Schools

Overview

As their name suggests, SchoolAuction.net is a silent auction software designed primarily for schools. SchoolAuction.net has been going strong in the auction space for many years, powering thousands of auctions for schools and other organizations. Plus, their software offers both web and mobile solutions, allowing your auction's guests to bid from home or on-the-go.

What We Like

  • Long history in the industry. SchoolAuction.net is well respected in the auction industry and has been operating for many years, and they have incorporated their decades of experience into their platform. 
  • Transparent pricing. Like Handbid and Qgiv, SchoolAuction.net publishes its pricing on its website with no hidden fees. 
  • Additional resources. In addition to information about their silent auction software, SchoolAuction.net provides several additional resources, like silent auction best practices and tutorials on how to use their software. 

Things to Consider  

  • Dated interface. As a long-running software provider, SchoolAuction.net's software has undergone many updates, and currently, its user interface is a bit outdated and overly complicated. 
  • Issues with event follow-up. Among user reviews, some have noted that SchoolAuction.net occasionally has issues related to post-event reports and guest receipts.

BiddingOwl is the best free silent auction software for in-person auctions.

BiddingOwl - Best Free Silent Auction Software

Overview

BiddingOwl's silent auction software helps small nonprofits run in-person auctions for free. For nonprofits looking to host virtual and hybrid events, they offer add-ons features that allow organizations to take their auctions online for an additional cost. 

What We Like

  • Free in-person auction tools. Organizations looking to host small, in-person auctions with paper bid sheets can use BiddingOwl for free. For small nonprofits with tight budgetary constraints, it may be worth investing in a free or low-cost solution, even if it has some limitations. 
  • PayPal support. While it doesn't easily integrate into more modern applications, many users still prefer to have the option to pay securely through PayPal rather than use a credit card or other payment method. 

Things to Consider  

  • Additional online costs. BiddingOwl takes 5% of the winning bids from online auctions. For small auctions, this may be more cost-effective than a premium plan with another provider, but this fee does not scale well. For example, an online or mobile auction that raises $50,000 will pay BiddingOwl $2,500 for a single auction, far more than most premium services would charge for a year subscription. 
  • Limited support. BiddingOwl provides phone and email support but is unclear about its onsite support options, which may be frustrating for organizations that need more hands-on assistance. 
  • Non-PCI compliant security. While BiddingOwl does support Paypal, third-party risk assessors indicate that they also use non-PCI compliant security protocols that may put bidders' data at risk.

 

Charity Auctions Today is one of the easiest to use silent auction software solutions available.

Charity Auctions Today - Easiest to Use Silent Auction Software

Overview

Charity Auctions Today prides itself on being one of the fastest, easiest to use silent auctions software solutions available. Primarily, they highlight users' ability to build an entire auction website in five minutes, which can save time and administrative work. However, auctions with many items will still likely need longer than five minutes to complete their website.

What We Like

  • Transparent pricing. Charity Auctions Today publishes their pricing packages on their website and also offers custom plans, allowing organizations to find a price point that's right for them. 
  • Easy website building. Charity Auctions Today has a fast three-step process for building websites. Users first answer questions about their event, then add items in bulk, and finally share their URL to begin marketing their auction. 
  • Support for both silent and live auctions. So far, this guide has primarily assessed online auction software support. However, solutions like Charity Auctions Today that also allows organizations to run live auctions provide additional flexibility. 

Things to Consider  

  • Percentage fee. Similar to BiddingOwl, Charity Auctions Today charges a percentage fee based on your plan. For larger auctions, these costs can quickly add up and far exceed the price of software solutions with a flat fee. 
  • Post-auction complications. Reviews for Charity Auctions Today have pointed to issues with closing and processing invoices, which can make the post-event process needlessly complicated and drawn out.
  • Lack of reporting features. Reviews have additionally addressed Charity Auctions Today's lacking reporting capabilities. Of course, reporting includes many features, and while organizations looking for more robust reporting options may be disappointed, others will likely be satisfied with Charity Auctions Today's more basic reporting.

Accelevents is the best silent auction software and event management tool.

Accelevents - Best Silent Auction Software and Event Management Tool

Overview

Accelevents focuses on virtual and hybrid events in general, while also offering silent auction software, though they have pivoted away from it in recent years. Specifically, their event software is designed for large-scale events with presenters, breakout rooms, live streaming, and more with unlimited guests. While hosting an event, users can ask presenters questions, download resources, and chat with one another.

What We Like

  • Ability to handle large virtual events. While many of the providers on this list specialize in assisting small organizations, Accelevents is built for large online gatherings. 
  • Interactive main stage program. Guests attending an event hosted with Accelevents can ask speakers questions and engage in smaller group chats in breakout rooms.
  • Integrated ticketing solution and payment processor. Accelevents provides comprehensive event management tools, including ticketing and payment processing, making check-in and check-out easy.

Things to Consider  

  • Focus on general events, not just auctions. As mentioned earlier, Accelevents has pivoted away from auctions and fundraising tools and now focuses primarily on hosting virtual and hybrid events. While this solution can still be used to support an online auction, you may need to purchase additional, auction-specific software for core features such as bidding and item catalog creation. 
  • Charge per attendee. Accelevents pricing model is based on the number of guests that attend your event, not just the number who register. Keep this in mind as you calculate software costs. 
32auctions is the best low-cost silent auction software.

32auctions - Low-Cost Silent Auction Software

Overview

32auctions' online silent auction software aims to help nonprofits host auctions that are fun, easy, and stress-free. Their brand identity is bright and colorful, with simplistic graphics, a heart in their logo, and a company history that focuses on their investment in children's causes. 

For organizations looking for the greatest return possible on silent auction software, 32auctions' standout feature is its low price. However, this low price tag warrants a closer look to check for hidden fees and limited features. 

What We Like

  • Price. At face value, all of 32auctions' basic features are free. A few necessary features, such as the ability to remove ads, cost extra, but even then, the total package price for all add-ons comes to only $340. 
  • Mobile-friendly. 32auctions lacks a native mobile app, but they can still support mobile auctions and bidding. Each of their auctions' websites is automatically optimized for mobile use. 
  • Custom website links. Among their branding options, 32auctions allows organizations to create custom links to their auction's website. This allows you to direct guests straight to your page and create a fully branded experience. 

Things to Consider  

  • Hidden fees. Unfortunately, 32auctions' software is not completely free, even without add-ons. 32auctions charges a hidden transaction fee of 2.9% + $0.40 per transaction in addition to your payment processor's rates. For many organizations, these fees will total around 5.8% and $0.80 per transaction. They also lack the option to prompt bidders to cover these fees, meaning your organization is expected to pay them. 
  • Ads. 32auctions’ free base price will display ads on your auction's website, which can clutter your pages and make your organization seem unprofessional. While some of their add-ons are optional, this one is a necessity, adding an extra $30 to the base price. 
  • Email alerts instead of push notifications. Push notifications allow you to alert bidders when they have been outbid as quickly as possible, promoting bidding wars and driving more revenue. 32auctions only has email alerts, crowding inboxes and requiring bidders to keep their emails open at all times to see if they have been outbid.

Greater Giving is the best "classic" silent auction software.

Greater Giving - The "Classic” Silent Auction Software System

Overview

Greater Giving, originally known as AuctionPay, is an online silent auction software platform that consists of event registration, auction management, mobile bidding, and a payment processor. Notably, Greater Giving is owned by Global Payments, who are the creators of the payment processor Greater Giving uses. This connection, along with Greater Giving's origins as AuctionPay, a Windows Application, present Greater Giving's biggest strengths and weaknesses. 

What We Like

  • Longevity. Greater Giving has been around in its current form for over ten years. This means their silent auction software's management features have been developed and refined for years with the assistance of extensive user feedback. 
  • Connection to a payment processor. Global Payments, Greater Giving's owner, is well established in the payment processing industry, having powered a wide range of charity events over the years. This makes them both knowledgeable about their field and reputable as a company.

Things to Consider 

  • Integration with Global Payments. As mentioned, the connection to Global Payments is both a strength and a weakness. Organizations interested in Greater Giving will need to review these unique payment processors' rates and transaction fees to understand their new software's total costs. 
  • Dated interface. While Greater Giving has evolved over the years, its origins as a Windows application have caused some aspects of its interface to feel outdated on modern web browsers. 
  • Outsourced mobile bidding. 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. 
Snowball Fundraising offers a full fundraising suite for nonprofits, with features that include silent auction software, overall suite includes campaign pages, text-to-give, event ticketing, and supporter management tools. 

Snowball - Best Fundraising Suite With Silent Auctions

Overview

Snowball Fundraising offers a full fundraising suite for small nonprofits, and one of the features they offer works for silent auctions. Their overall suite includes campaign pages, text-to-give, event ticketing, and supporter management tools. 

What We Like

  • Unlimited auction items. It’s a real bummer when you’re limited to a certain number of auction items your guests can bid on, also limiting the amount of money you can raise at your event. Snowball offers unlimited auction items, which can increase your ROI.
  • Easy customization options. With Snowball, you can customize your auction page with unique colors, background images, and informational banners to match your nonprofit’s branding.
  • Text-to-bid options. Bidders can text a specific word to receive a link to bid on the item of their choice.
  • Unlimited bidders. There’s no limit to the number of bidders that can participate in your auction, and they can bid as much or as many times as they choose.

Things to Consider

  • Auctions are just one part of the Snowball Fundraising software solution. While a variety of options can be appealing, it also means that auctions are not Snowball’s main focus. Other solutions include donation forms, fundraising pages, and text-to-give software. 
  • Can’t be purchased as an add-on. For access to the auction software, your nonprofit would need to purchase the professional version of Snowball Fundraising. This means it requires a full overhaul of your nonprofit’s fundraising solution rather than an add-on to your existing suite of tools. 
Auctria offers silent auction software for small organizations with tight budgets.

Auctria - Best Silent Auction Software for Small Organizations

Overview

Auctria offers silent auction software for small organizations with tight budgets. Their features are a great starting point for organizations that have never hosted a silent auction before, but they may be limiting for larger organizations

What We Like

  • Online and mobile bidding. Like other solutions, Auctria offers three ways to bid: via the mobile app, through a browser, or by sending a text message.
  • Item solicitation tracking. Auctria prides itself on being able to help track your procurement process from start to finish. Solicitation tracking allows donors to fill out a form describing the item they are donating and allows your event managers to see the item donations that are in process.
  • Printed materials like your auction catalog. Auctria can help you generate bid sheets, display sheets, gift certificates, and even your auction catalog, making the auction collateral process simple and streamlined. 
  • Dedicated event website. Your organization can create and customize your own website with individual pages, matching your theme or branding.

Things to Consider

  • Not as robust. Auctria’s software isn’t as built out as solutions like Handbid, but it offers scalable solutions for specific campaigns like Giving Tuesday. 
  • Look closely at the big picture for your organization. Review the scalability of Auctria to determine if the software fits your long-term needs.
Clickbid is silent auction software that makes it easy for event attendees to participate and contribute from the comfort of their homes.

Clickbid - Best Silent Auction Software for Virtual Events

Overview

Although it presents solutions for in-person auctions, Clickbid offers silent auction software that is ideally suited for fully virtual nonprofit events. Their event websites and online bidding options make it easy for event attendees to participate and contribute from the comfort of their homes. 

What We Like

  • Text-to-register. Bidders can register themselves for your auction, alleviating tedious data entry for you and your team.
  • Secure payment options. Clickbid uses Stripe: a best-in-class payment processor, offering security and peace of mind to your bidders when paying for their auction items.
  • Custom landing pages. Clickbid offers a landing page to centralize your auction catalog, ticket sales, registration and donations, all in one place.
  • Event streaming. Your live auction can go virtual and reach more people with Clickbid’s streaming tool.
  • Dedicated advisor. Organizations have options for personalized and prioritized support and advice leading up to your event, with day-of-event phone support and options for additional staff and volunteer training.

Things to Consider

  • Limited in features. Clickbid’s landing page feature seems limited and lacks the flexibility to cater to your organization’s branding. Users have complained that it’s not as editable, and the overall visual presentation to bidders and guests is not as easy to customize.
  • Learning curve on the backend. Users of Clickbid have noted that the software is not as user-friendly for new users. There is a learning curve when familiarizing yourself with the backend and finding reports and analytics.
The GiveSmart silent auction software allows users to take advantage of event planning, ticketing, donor management, and more.

GiveSmart - Best Auction Software for Large Nonprofits 

Overview

GiveSmart is the auction product produced by Community Brands. It offers many features for event planning, ticketing, donor management, and more, creating a very robust and established platform. Community Brands offers well-rounded solutions for nonprofits, associations, and schools, such as member management, human resources and accounting services, and more. 

What We Like

  • Item procurement tracking. When you have multiple people from your organization out in the community asking for item donations, it’s important to track the process so that there aren’t duplicates. With GiveSmart’s tracking system, you can see the donations coming in.
  • Leaderboard display. This technology allows everyone involved with your event - whether in-person or virtually - to see paddle raises, leading bids on auction items, and other calls to action in real time during your event.
  • No-bid item reminders. Showing bidders the items that need a little more “love” will boost your bids and your overall fundraising.
  • Seating and group management. Throw out those paper diagrams. GiveSmart allows you to manage your guests, the groups they bring, and your table arrangements, all in one place.
  • Tax receipts. Send thank you notes and tax receipts directly to your donors and bidders. 
  • Contactless check-in. Bidders can check themselves in and add their payment information into the platform, giving them more time to shop the auction and place their bids.

Things to Consider

  • Difficult to integrate with other platforms. GiveSmart works best if you already use other Community Brands products. They are limited in their integrations with other CRMs. 
  • Excess features. Because their platform is so robust, they may offer more features than your organization actually needs, which may not be as economically efficient for your budget. 

Wrap Up

Online silent auction software allows your organization to broaden your efforts, both tactically and geographically, potentially increasing your support base. However, silent auction software is an investment, and you'll need to research your options carefully before settling on any one provider. 

Start your search by assessing your event needs and fundraising capacity. Establish a budget, and make a list of core features your auction needs. Then, start researching and see how they compare to the requirements you've already noted. From there, you can begin weighing your options against one another, start requesting demos, and get closer to making a purchase.

 

Once you've selected your silent auction software, you still have an auction you'll need to run. 

To help you prepare for your upcoming auction, here are three resources that dive into different aspects of effective event and auction planning:

Say goodbye to paper bid sheets and hello to Handbid - the ultimate app for silent auctions. Developed by a leader in nonprofit event fundraising, Handbid offers a seamless and efficient way for organizations to raise funds through silent auctions. With its user-friendly interface and advanced features such as mobile bidding and live auction updates, Handbid takes the hassle out of running a successful silent auction. Don't believe us? Give Handbid a try and see the difference it can make for your next event!

 

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Testing image caption text
  1. Numbered list
  2. Numbered list 2
  3. Numbered list 3

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.