3 Essentials For Building Your Nonprofit Auction Toolkit

Jeff PorterJuly 06, 2021

nonprofit auction toolkit

Nonprofit auctions allow donors to support your cause in an exciting and rewarding way that goes beyond traditional donations. They’re incredibly flexible and can be adapted to suit all sorts of causes, needs, and goals — especially with a functioning nonprofit auction toolkit. More nonprofits are turning to auctions because they’re one of the most lucrative events and can easily be transitioned to the digital space.

However, making the most of your auction requires more than just willpower and a positive attitude. You’ll need to invest in efficient software before anything else. At Handbid, we’ve worked with thousands of organizations to pull off engaging auctions that inspire bids and lead to lasting donor relationships. We understand what it takes to create a standout event and how the right tools can make a world of difference.

Using our firsthand experience, we’ve put together this quick guide that walks through a few core features your team needs to succeed. When building your nonprofit auction toolkit, look for these essential tools:

  1. Online bidding capabilites
  2. A live streaming platform
  3. Digital marketing tools

Your nonprofit auction toolkit will serve as the foundation for your auction, and starting with the right features will prove invaluable as you begin planning your fundraising event. Ready to make the most of your events and supercharge your fundraising strategy for the new year? Let’s dive in!

1. Online bidding capabilities

The way your supporters bid is the most essential function of your auction software. The easier and more convenient it is, the more likely they are to participate and the more money you’ll raise for your cause.

What’s more, many individuals spend a good portion of their time online. This means that your auction needs to be accessible online and across various devices if you want to reach the most supporters possible.

By investing in a platform with online bidding capabilities, you’ll open up your auction to bidders everywhere. While this is important for in-person auctions, it’s especially essential for nonprofits whose audiences might want to continue supporting the cause through hybrid or virtual events.

As you narrow down your options for online bidding tools, be on the lookout for these helpful features:

  • An organized catalog with flexible bidding options. Items should be easy to find and even easier to bid on. Make sure users can search your catalog in real time or with QR code scanning. Then, enhance the bidding experience with features like max bids, where participants can set the most they are willing to bid on an item and won’t have to constantly check to see if they are still winning their coveted item.
  • Gamification. Make the bidding process fun with helpful features like a donation thermometer that shows bidders their impact on your goal, leaderboards that feature top bidders, and a countdown ticker that encourages those last-second bids. In turn, you’ll create a memorable experience for your attendees and encourage them to spend more.
  • Streamlined checkout tools. Make checkout a breeze with automation. Immediately after the event, bidders should be able to view their invoices, conveniently submit payments (either with a card on file or Apple Pay), and receive tax-compliant receipts. Then, your team should be able to view all paid and unpaid invoices, so you can follow up appropriately.

According to Handbid’s nonprofit auction software guide, your auction should work just as seamlessly on mobile devices as it does on desktop computers. Otherwise, you risk poor functionality and will exclude a large portion of your donor base. Ensure your online auction software offers a mobile bidding app that bidders can access to securely browse and bid on items.

nonprofit auction toolkit

In addition to the features above, your mobile bidding app should come fully equipped with push notifications that trigger within seconds after a participant has been outbid. That way, bidders will be engaged until the final moments of your event.

2. A live streaming platform

Although a virtual auction can take place without any live interaction between your team and bidders, we recommend investing in a live streaming platform. One of the largest obstacles organizations face with virtual events is the lack of face-to-face interaction, and this tool enables your team to overcome that hurdle.

According to this resource, live streaming increases your geographic reach and opens up your event to donors everywhere. Plus, it gives your virtual event a more dynamic feel and can directly boost bidder engagement.

For instance, you might kick off with an introductory stream, jump in with periodic updates, or wrap up with a celebratory stream. Some organizations even pair their auctions with a virtual gala or have a live auction portion where the auctioneer presents items that donors bid on in real time.

Although there are plenty of live-streaming tools available, your best bet is to go with an auction platform that has a built-in live streaming feature.

This creates a more centralized experience by allowing bidders to watch your stream directly within the mobile bidding app or on the online auction site. They won’t have to navigate to an external platform to watch the feed, so they can stay engaged the entire time.

You can even take live streaming one step further by selecting an option that allows your team to promote specific items under the stream itself. This makes it incredibly easy to host a live auction portion and direct attention to items that are going unnoticed. A centralized experience means your participants can easily tune into your live stream, browse your item catalog, bid, and learn about your mission all at once.

3. Digital marketing tools

Online marketing tools are something your team likely already has at its disposal. They’ll be essential for promoting your event, generating interest for your cause, and engaging bidders before and during your auction.

Although you can use any number of digital marketing outlets, AccuData’s digital marketing guide suggests that you focus most of your attention on outlets like email and social media. Here’s why you should account for these in your promotional strategy and nonprofit auction toolkit:

  • Email: This platform allows you to send announcements to your loyal supporters and encourage them to sign up for your event. As you start securing event registrations, develop a drip stream that teases your auction items, explains how your auction platform works, and reminds them to pre-register their payment information.
  • Social media: Extend beyond your existing network and harness the power of the share button by making use of social media. Social media adds another layer of engagement to your event. It empowers you to share announcements to a wide base of supporters, interact directly with followers, drive traffic to your registration page, and publicly shout out generous supporters during the auction.

Not to mention, your nonprofit auction software may offer communication features so you can message guests via email or text in real time. High-quality platforms will also safely integrate with other leading tools that can be used to build out your marketing strategy.

Check if your nonprofit auction platform offers digital marketing assistance as well. Leaders in the auction industry understand what it takes to make your auction stand out online, and experienced silent auction software providers may offer a package that helps you connect with your target audience and increase registrations.

If you’ve never shopped around for auction software, it can be intimidating to know which tools will serve you best. As part of your nonprofit auction plan, make sure you invest in tools that cover you from the initial planning stages to following up after the auction.

Remember, online bidding options, live streaming capabilities, and digital marketing tools are a must for maximizing revenue at your event — regardless of your unique needs and budget. Good luck!

Schedule a live demo with our partner Bloomerang, and we’ll show you how easy it is to create and automate reports, utilize online and offline fundraising tools, quickly integrate and access all your data, and ultimately create more time to engage your donors.

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