Mobile Bidding for an Auction Fundraiser: Proven Guidelines

Mobile Bidding for an Auction Fundraiser: Proven Guidelines

Want your charity auction bidders to bid more frequently, faster and make more money for your cause? Mobile bidding is the answer! As with any new technology, there is a right place and right time to use it.

To make the best decision for your organization’s charity auction, first let’s understand that in order to enable mobile bidding the auction must take place online. No, you cannot have paper pencil bidding and mobile bidding for the same auction items simultaneously. It’s impossible to simultaneously record a paper bid to an online auction. You can however go from online to paper, more on that later.

Not all online auction platforms are mobile friendly. Choose wisely.

Seeking a flawless mobile bidding experience that is both streamlined for the organization and fast and easy to use for the bidder. You want something that saves you time and makes money for the cause. Discuss these concepts with your auction team before making a decision:

  1. Mobile means going online
  2. Timing for mobile bidding
  3. Mobile optimized website or mobile app (or both!)
  4. Online auction boosters
  5. Streamlined registration and collections
  6. Frequently asked questions about mobile bidding

1. Mobile means going online

Mobile bidding means you are running an online auction. In order for the audience to view the online bidding the auction itself needs to be online. Don’t be intimidated by the terminology. Auction Software makes this both super easy and bidder friendly. To do so you will utilize a platform where:

  • Input of the auction items is easy. You want to be able to upload auction items with a description, terms and conditions, starting bids, bid increments. Use video for the special auction items to draw attention

  • Access to the auction is easy. Be able to share the entire auction with a QR code or individual auction items.

  • Creating an event microsite is easy. Utilize a microsite to promote and show off the charity mission. This is in addition to managing the auction functionality. If you use a streamlined platform the auction information will flow to the event website with ease.

2. Timing for mobile bidding

The last thing you want to do is compete with yourself for your supporters' attention. The timing for an online auction and mobile bidding is dependent upon the event that is paired with the auction and fundraising activities.

In person auction and event fundraiser. Mobile bidding and an in-person event should be scheduled to close prior to or after any presentations, keynote speakers or testimonial videos. It is imperative to limit distractions, a mobile device that is triggering notifications should not be compounding that issue.

Online only auctions may run days not hours. This scenario is a great match for mobile bidding. Since bidders are not on-location the online auction is always a tap away from mobile devices. Bonus, online auctions can easily be accessed from a desktop or tablet too.

3. Mobile optimized website or mobile app (or both!)

Choosing a mobile optimized website or downloadable mobile bidding application. Using a mobile optimized event bidding page for mobile bidding is a requirement for smooth bidder experience.

Bidding with a mobile optimized website: Bidders will use their personal mobile devices, on their preferred browser and make bids and purchases. Note: bidders will receive outbid notifications via email.

Bidding with a mobile application: Bidders will download a mobile application that is used exclusively with the auction platform. When bidders utilize the mobile app for bidding outbid notifications are immediately pushed out on the mobile device. Some people will not want to download an app for short term use. That’s ok, because that is why a mobile optimized event website is essential.

How about both? Yes, having both is the most flexible. Giving your supporters the opportunity to bid and receive notifications as they wish. Mobile bidding also means contactless bidding can occur.

4. Online auction boosters

Online auction & mobile bidding considerations, going online can expand the bidder pool. Auction fundraising depends on bids, bids depend on bidders. The greater the number of bidders, the more bidding will take place and the higher the bids. Similar to traditional silent auctions, there is a start time, end time, and the bidding process takes place in between, but is completely web-based. Online auctions add a layer of flexibility for both the auction itself and the participants.

Have you ever run an online auction fundraiser and the bids come in s-l-o-w-l-y one by one?

Max bid is the answer to slow bids.

Although small increments for online auctions can provide engagement and activity, it may not produce the maximum potential for the highest bids. In a standard online auction, after each bid is placed, the outbid bidder receives a notification. However, they then NEED to bid again to be back on top, and because people are busy, they might forget. With Max Bid the system bids for the bidder at each increment up to the max bid they privately indicated.

During online auctions the bidding fury takes over as the clock ticks closer to closing time. The winner is the one that gets that very last bid at the mere moment before the auction closes. The winning bidder is super happy, but how much higher could the bids have gone?

Max Bid, also known as proxy bidding, is the answer to last second bidding activity.

Online auction technology has removed the sniper and increased auction proceeds with a bid extension feature. Bid extension accelerates the bidding so more bids can be placed, thus increasing the final bid.

5. Streamlined registration and collections

Mobile bidding is fast and easy. When a bidder purchases a ticket to attend an event or registers online for an online auction they are all ready to bid. Organizers can reduce or completely eliminate the check in desk duties. No more fumbling with bid paddles or standing in line at a check in desk.

Speedy bidding. The auction fundraising success can be raised with mobile bidding utilization. Mobile bidding’s chief benefits:

  • makes it easier for bidders to view the catalog from their device
  • makes it easier to scan the auction catalog by category, and personal bidding status
  • mobile bidders receive instant outbid notifications with a quick click to re-bid
    The quicker a bidder can find the items they want to bid on, the faster the auction income can rise. The quicker a bidder realizes they have been outbid, the sooner they can rebid. Faster bidding means fundraising soars.

6. Frequently asked questions about mobile bidding

Mobile bidding from anywhere opens the auction door to anyone with internet access. Mobile bidding opens the bidder pool to a much wider audience, however here are two most frequently asked questions regarding mobile bidding:

What if a bidder does not want to use mobile bidding?
Kiosk bidding for those that don’t want to mobile bid. For bidders that choose not to download the app on their personal device during a mobile bidding auction, Auctria does have a kiosk mode. A kiosk mode website will function essentially the same as the auction website. This allows a bidder to walk up to the device, browse the items and place their bids quickly. When the bidder clicks on an item in the catalog (and online bidding is open for the item) a form prompts for a bidder# and amount. No need to sign in, just enter the bidder# and amount and click on Bid. If there is an email address associated with the bidder, they will still be notified by email when they are outbid, and if text messaging is enabled and a phone# is available for the bidder, they will get a text message too.

What is the right venue to use mobile bidding?
At an in-person event, silent auction bid sheets can be replaced with mobile bidding. First, ensure there is wifi or mobile service availability. Benefits and scenarios that make mobile bidding a great match are:

  • Functions with familiar faces. Functions where it’s the regular crowd, where it’s a bit more social rather than formal presentations, keynote speakers where you would want undivided attention.

  • Functions that are spread out over time or space. Silent auctions at an event (ie carnival, music, art show) gain lots of attention to auction items. However, many bids are placed but never re-bid because the silent auction is in a static location or over an extended period. The bidders that placed bids at the beginning of the event may not be on location at the close of the event. Utilizing a mobile app will notify bidders that may not be present that they have been outbid; encouraging rebids.

Further consideration, texting

One more bidding piece to consider with mobile bidding and online auctions is text messaging. If you don’t want the bidders distracted with mobile bidding but do want to get just the vital information alerts to pop up on screen, texting may be a good fit.

Text-2- register, donate, pay are also great time savers for organizations and bidders. When using text in conjunction with the auction fundraiser it gives the organizer the ability to use mobile communications for key functions. Allow the mobile devices to do the work so you can focus on the people.


Auctria’s mobile bidding helps the bids soar! Bidders can use their personal device and bid with their favorite mobile browser to download the Auctria mobile application which is available for both Apple and Android devices.

At an in-person auction event, instead of printing bid sheets for every auction item, offer a few ways to access mobile bidding. When QR codes are on the auction item display page. The Auctria app will jump to that item to give quick access to the exact item they want to bid on.