Many organizations considering the transition to mobile bidding from paper bidding ask us if fundraising technology distracts event guests from being social. They also question if this shift softens the focus on the evening’s cause, detracting from the overall quality of the event. These concerns are understandable and central to modern fundraising as organizations consider their audience and how to best apply technology at events.  

Unsurprisingly, we champion technology as an improvement to events and fundraising efforts for the following reasons: 

  1. It’s 2018, everyone is already on their phones. So, in between them texting their friends about how great the music is at your event, shoot them a text and ask if they’ve had the chance to donate! Running a school fundraiser? Chances are most of the donors in the room have kids, which means the babysitter is just a phone call or text away. 
  2. Paper bid sheets tie bidders to their items. At an auction with paper bid sheets, guests linger around the items they want to win, prohibiting others from bidding and themselves from socializing. 
  3. With mobile bidding, you can bid anywhere; by the bar, in the bathroom, or at your table. Guests can keep chatting or stay at the dinner table if they want to bid. The outbid text notification is far less disruptive than walking away all together.


Elderly guests can stay put and still participate in the auction. Many organizations are concerned about their older guests feeling left out of the auction or fear they will not be able to participate without a smartphone. If a guest does not have a personal smartphone, he/she/they can place a bid through a Bidding Assistant (a volunteer from your organization or GiveSmart staff) with an iPad. Bidding Assistants are logged into iPads as administrators, which allows them to place a bid or donation on behalf of anyone on the guest list.



In short, if you are considering the social quality of a fundraiser, mobile bidding allows guests to continue to mingle and converse without the longer interruption of leaving the physical place where a given conversation or interaction is occurring.  

If there is a live auction it’s possible that many guests won’t participate, given limited lots and higher values, but mobile bidding can leverage this formerly untapped momentum of the live auction to spur silent auction bids, increasing a charity’s fundraising totals.  

Appeal (or fund-a-need) moments benefit from mobile technology as well by allowing guests to give anonymously or outside of fixed donation levels. Aside from the benefit of catching the “long tail” of donations, mobile giving can further enhance the experience of the organization and their guests by facilitating higher levels of participation. 

Finally, it’s important to acknowledge that your guests are attending the fundraiser for the right reasons, and trust that they will pay proper attention at the appropriate moments throughout the evening. We’ve yet to hear an organization say they found mobile bidding distracting upon post-event analysis. Guests find technology a simpler and more direct avenue to give and bid, and nonprofits celebrate the headaches they’ve avoided by eliminating bid sheets and pounds of paper from their events.

Kelsey Woodworth
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