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Nonprofit Leaders 3min read

The Problems With Silent Auctions for Nonprofit Fundraising

Silent auctions have long been a staple in nonprofit fundraising. They could always be counted on to drive donations by offering prizes.

These auctions have their limitations, though—limitations that are a result of both available technology and inertia. Aside from the sponsor gifts, all you really need to pull off a silent auction is paper and pens. Since they’ve always worked and people are familiar with them, why risk changing?

You’re Not Capitalizing On Generosity

All of the people who bid on auction items are obviously in a giving mood. The winners get to experience the joy of giving as well as receiving a gift in recognition of their generosity. But what about all of the bidders who were willing to give but lost out on the auction? Since they were outbid on their chosen item, they likely end up contributing nothing.

Collecting Bids Can Be a Hassle

Collecting bids can be like collecting pledges. Unless people bring cash or their checkbooks, or you have card swipe capability, you must follow up to collect the money. Despite their best intentions, people can be slow about remitting payment.

It’s also an extra administrative hassle, requiring time and effort that your nonprofit fundraising staff could be using in more productive ways.

Nonprofit Fundraising Has Advanced

Odds are that almost everyone at your fundraising event has a smartphone in their pocket. Yet silent auctions typically rely on people entering their bids on pieces of paper, then writing checks or standing in line to swipe cards. In a very literal sense, you’re asking people to abandon the way they conduct the majority of their transactions (think Lyft, Uber, Starbucks, etc.) in order to give.

So If Not Auctions, Then What?

All of this is not to say silent auctions are necessarily bad. Rather, there are ways to maximize donations, increase efficiency, and catch donors when they’re engaged in your cause. Adding a mobile giving option to your fundraiser accomplishes all of these things.

In the case of Givelify, you can run a Givelithon to show real-time fundraising results during your event. It’s an easy way to get people excited about helping you reach your fundraising goal.

Here’s an example of a fundraising event that exceeded its goal by utilizing the Givelify mobile giving app and a Givelithon.

At this event, the Indy Eleven Soccer Foundation offered rewards at tiered giving levels. Rather than only winning bidders receiving a prize, everyone who donated received a gift of increasing value depending on the amount of the donation.

This encouraged everyone to participate, and the Foundation ended up exceeding its fundraising goal halfway through the event.

You can read the entire case study in the post Mobile Giving Helps Indy Eleven Soccer Foundation Score Big.

Get Started Today

Is your organization ready to move on to the next generation of fundraising? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you get started.

About the Author

Matt is dedicated to making the world a better place. He works passionately to help charitable causes use mobile technology to raise the funds they need. In addition to his role at Givelify, he volunteers with the Southside Animal Shelter and Kentuckiana Pug Rescue.

Matt Chandler