Fundraising Blog

Online Auction Software - A Beginners Guide to 7 Essential Inclusions

Dee Brannick
Fundraising specialist, Co-Founder of GalaBid

Each year, our silent auction software is trusted by tens of thousands of fundraisers from all corners of the globe.

Many of these fundraisers are venturing into the world of online auctions for the very first time and our support team are often asked to direct them to the advanced features they should consider, but may not be aware of.

With that question in mind we have put together this guide to some additional auction options that all fundraisers should consider. The basic mechanics of auctions: how to set starting bids and increments, setting terms and conditions and collecting payments are covered in our other guides. This guide will explore some popular advanced features : Passing on Transaction fees, Vouchers, End of Auction Donation Prompts, Leaderboards and Personal Shoppers aka Auction Volunteer Accounts.

1. Passing on Transaction Fees

The most searched question on our help center is "How to add pass on transaction fees to silent auction winners". Most auction software platforms catering to non profits and individual fundraisers will have this feature available. It’s yours or your organization's choice whether to implement it. We find that most fundraisers choose to include the option. On GalaBid the fee can also be made mandatory, however when it’s optional we find that more than 95% of auction item winners are willing to pay the extra and it’s rare that fundraisers choose to make it mandatory. If you would like to read a detailed explanation of how to set this up on a GalaBid auction check out our Help Article on the subject.

2. Vouchers

Planning on running an auction including a ton of prizes? Many auctions we see on GalaBid include 50 plus items, some 100+. It’s fantastic to have so many items to attract and engage potential bidders but did you know that you can make the item fulfilment process a whole lot easier by utilizing the voucher feature.

Add custom information into each item regarding how to book the experience or include a link to the PDF voucher provided to you by the donor. See this link to an example voucher provided by an example donor. The PDF is hosted by a free online service - PDF Host.

The clever thing about the voucher feature is that once payment is received for the item, the winner automatically receives the vouchers via email. Vouchers can also be resent from the auction dashboard or downloaded by the auction administrator.

3. Donations

It’s quite right that the focus of an online auction will be the many enticing auction items. However, it’s very quick and easy to include a straight donation item. As the campaign administrator you can set a minimum donation amount and the participant can donate that amount or any amount above the minimum. You will find some supporters prefer to make a straight tax deductible donation instead of, or, in addition to bidding on auction items. Another very useful feature to consider is the ability for participants who didn’t win an item in the silent auction to be prompted to make a donation as part of their end of auction notification. 

Unsuccessful Bidder Donation Prompt

4. Auction Leader board

Will your auction be held in conjunction with an in-person event? If so, capitalize on the opportunity to foster some lively, in-room competition with an large screen auction leaderboard projector display. A well-designed leaderboard will scroll through each item, highlighting the name of the highest bidder and their bid amount. Every time a new bid is placed, the leaderboard will showcase the bid and the bidder via a pop-up notification.

Leader Board with New Bid Pop Up's

Leaderboards can also track the bid tally, progress toward a target, and an auction countdown timer. To quickly create a visually impactful leaderboard on GalaBid, consult our detailed how-to article and video here.

5. Personal Shopper Accounts aka Auction Volunteers 

Running an auction online is unquestionably the most efficient auction process for event fundraisers and it’s also the most fun and convenient way for most supporters. That said, some potential bidders don’t feel comfortable using mobile bidding apps. And, in some instances they have simply forgotten their glasses or have a dead phone battery. Whatever the reason, the role of the auction volunteer is crucial at a live fundraising event. A Volunteer account on your auction can perform a multitude of tasks from assisting guests with registration, placing bids and donations on behalf of bidders, assisting with payments to updating a profile to show the bidder as anonymous. 

Auction Volunteers

6. No Risk Item Shop aka Prizes on Consignment

Your Auction software platform is likely to have sale or return items available for you to include in your auction. These items are typically holidays, or experiences with broad appeal which are tried and tested. The campaign earns all proceeds above the cost of the item and the bidding usually starts at cost plus 10%. The booking process is also taken care of by the Auction software provider's bookings team. The process is labelled No Risk as if items don't sell at auction they are automatically returned to the platform without any cost to the campaign.

Sale or Return items can be ideal for many auctions looking to expand their range of items, or, to offer items to cater for a particular subsegment of supporters or price point.

7. Campaign Contact details

Make sure to complete all the details your supporters will expect to see on the invoice they receive from the campaign. Standard details include the legal name, address of the organization or individual who is in receipt of the payments made on the campaign along with the 501c or Charity Number as applicable. Organizations should include their logo and select one of the auction campaign administrators to receive messages and questions from bidders during the auction.

If you have any questions about these or other advanced features you would like to consider, contact our friendly and knowledgeable support team. We’re here to help you streamline your auction set up and maximize your results.

Written by Dee Brannick, Co-Founder GalaBid

Dee Brannick is a seasoned fundraising technology expert and the co-founder of GalaBid, a pioneering force in the industry since 2011. With a remarkable career spanning the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom, Dee has been a dedicated supporter of fundraisers for nearly two decades.

In 2008, while in New York, Dee played a pivotal role in enabling the Robin Hood Foundation raise an astounding $28 million on the evening of their benefit event, through fundraising event technology. 

Dee's extensive global experience encompasses thousands of in-person gala events, virtual events, and standalone online auctions. Her passion and commitment to enhancing the fundraising landscape have made her a trusted authority in the field.

Connect with Dee on LinkedIn to stay informed about the latest advancements in fundraising technology and industry insights.

About GalaBid

Ideal for donations. Perfect for Raffles. Awesome for Live and Silent Auctions! GalaBid’s online fundraising platform is designed for fundraisers of all types and sizes. For over 10 years we’ve been helping non-profits, charities, community clubs, churches, schools, and individuals to raise more and make a difference.

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