Apr 21, 2020

How To Host An Online Silent Auction

online silent auction

If you’re a nonprofit professional, fundraiser, or just generally aware of charity work, you’ve likely heard about silent auctions and their role in fundraising. Today, more and more auctions are hosted online. An online silent auction allows donors to bid directly from their mobile phones, tablets, or computers. An online silent auction also has a wider reach, which can increase participation and ultimately increase the funds that you raise.

online silent auction

The silent auction process requires prospective buyers to submit their bids in writing before the event. The auctioneer then reviews each bid and awards the item to the highest bidder. This auction format is ideal for events where the organization hopes to sell many things in a compressed time frame. When you’re hosting a live event, this time frame will typically be for a few hours during your event. If you’re hosting an online silent auction, you have the option to extend for a few days or weeks, depending on your preference.

What are the advantages of online silent auctions?

Hosting an online silent auction comes with several benefits:

  • Extended range: Due to the global reach of the internet, you’ll no longer have to limit the attendance of your silent auction to a specific geographic area. Buyers can place their bids from anywhere in the world via their mobile device or computer, which can increase participation, encourage competition and drive up selling prices.
  • A lack of time restrictions: Unlike an in-person auction, an online silent auction can last indefinitely (though we recommend 7-10 days). Participants can place their bids around the clock at their convenience, and it’s up to you to determine how long buyers have to make their bids, as you’ll be the one to set deadlines for bid submission. You’ll be able to generate an increased bid volume this way and, most likely, earn higher compensation for your items.
  • Increased marketing exposure for item donors and sponsors: Displaying items online enables the businesses that are donating them to gain more visibility for their products and services. They can take advantage of a form of free advertising that will help them build brand awareness.
  • Lower expense: The cost of hosting an online silent auction is typically much less than that of holding a live event. With the help of silent auction software, you’ll end up spending less on planning and organizing your auction, and you’ll decrease your dependence on human labor.
We pulled 440,000 lines of data from our platform to analyze silent auction item performance across the country,
and dove deep into the data to get answers to common silent auction questions. Read the full study below:

silent auction study

How can a silent auction platform improve event results?

With the use of silent auction software and a solid promotional campaign, you can effectively manage every aspect of your event, from the planning phase through the purchasing and checkout process. The numerous software benefits include:

  • Higher bids: Using mobile bidding adds an intriguing and potentially lucrative twist to the silent auction. Bidders receive an instant notification via text if someone outbids them, and they can go back to increase their bid if they wish. This feature can dramatically increase the item’s final selling price.
  • No need for additional infrastructure: With the right platform, you can manage your online silent auction without purchasing extra equipment or modifying your existing computer systems. You’ll have access to everything you need to run your event at your fingertips.
  • Better organization: One of the most challenging aspects of hosting an online silent auction is organizing the event. With the use of software, you won’t have to deal with setting up a physical location and displaying items manually. Bidders can view clear, detailed full-color photos of all the items at the event and gain access to all the details on their computer, smartphone or tablet. As the event holder, you’ll be able to track the bidding progress on every item in real-time and make inventory updates as needed. Remember, promotion and communication with your supporters is key. You have to publicize the campaign in order to attract an audience to your virtual event.
  • Automation of tasks: Software will enable you to automate functions involved with managing an auction, such as keeping records, gathering attendee information and tracking auction proceedings. You’ll experience enhanced oversight with greater data accuracy as a result.
  • Fast, efficient checkout:  If you’ve ever conducted or attended a live auction, you have firsthand experience with the chaos and confusion that occurs at checkout time. Silent auction software eliminates these hassles by allowing you to manage all the payment and delivery details with just a few clicks of a mouse from the comfort of your home or office. You’ll have no worries about getting paid or figuring out where to send the purchased items.

See GiveSmart in auction action.
Schedule a demo with our team today.

Join us each week to hear stories from your peers about how to run successful online fundraisers in our latest series, #OutsideTheRoom.


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What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County