Take the Angst out of Auction; Put the “Fun” in Fundraise

Silent Auction planning, implementation, and close out has been vastly improved – thanks to Bidding for Good’s technology,  No more worry about last minute tabulating for who gets what item for how much.  No long lines.  No “rugby” dance to the auction tables.  Guests can even bid online prior to the event.  People who can’t attend an event but want to contribute, or just shop, can bid online.

Until now silent auctions screamed for improvement.  Managing or participating in silent auctions used to be challenging.  In addition to orchestrating volunteers to get auction items, silent auction managers had to cope with less than ideal logistics during the event.

Guests were expected to place bids for items listed on several tablets strewn over long tables.  Oftentimes squeezing through crowds to get to the table wasn’t worth the hassle.  It was easier to grab the “drink-a-tini” of the evening.

If you were lucky enough to “rugby” squeeze through bodies to get to the table and place a bid, it was likely your bid – within minutes – was surpassed.  So, you could guard the tablet or wander back for hors d’oeuvres.  Or, you could skip the silent auction altogether.

Auction managers were responsible for closing out accounts, handing guests the right item and making sure that guests paid.  This wasn’t easy.  Tabulating winning results by hand was time consuming.  There was room for error.

It wasn’t unusual for lines to form as guests left an event to pay for their auction items.  And, it wasn’t unusual for guests to choose not wait in line and leave their items behind, not paying.

“Winners” who left without waiting to make the transaction had to be contacted after the event – not ideal.  And, those who did wait in line to purchase their items exited the otherwise inspiring event with a negative impression.

Fundraising events evoke enthusiasm for an organization.  If negative experiences outweigh positive, the following year’s guest list dwindles.  Given the risk factors, it’s understandable if organizations decided to forgo silent auctions.

That was before Bidding for Good.  Now we have the tools to tweak silent auctions.  It’s possible to retain what’s best about silent auctions and get rid of the worst. Bidding for Good has changed the silent auction scenario.

Bidding for Good brings fundraisers, shoppers, and businesses together for “Charitable Commerce,” a phrase they coined.   Bidding for Good provides an online platform to:

  • Manage your event from beginning to end
  • Build an event homepage that can feature auction items and sponsors
  • Advertise donated auction items on a personalized webpage
  • Sell auction tickets
  • Sell raffle tickets
  • Begin the auction prior to an event
  • Enable mobile bidding in the room
  • Close-out your event and process through one of a number of integrated payment processors

During an event Bidding for Good’s technology enables guests to receive bidding notifications for auction items on their cell phones.  Guests stay informed without having to hover over the auction table.   And, guests can bid on their phones!

At the end of the auction all auction items can be closed out with the click of a button – alleviating long lines at checkout.  This advantage enhances an already successful event, creating a lasting positive impression.

So – you might wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that!”  Bidding for Good has crafted a way to enjoy silent auctions – a win for all.   Curious to learn more about Bidding for Good and how Jonathan Carson, CEO and Chairman, initially got involved, I caught up with Jon:

Debbie Good Miller:  Jon, you’re the ultimate entrepreneur.  You’ve created four companies and been inducted into the Babson College Alumni Entrepreneur Hall of Fame.  How did you become a nonprofit auction fundraising expert?

Jonathan Carson:  My most recent business prior to Bidding for Good was the Family Education Network (Fen.com) in the 90’s.  It was the largest education website, with over 20% US school (public and private) districts using our website platform.  We provided tools to enable schools, grades K – 12, to build their own websites.  There was a teachers’ version, parents’ version, and fun brain games site for kids.  The FamilyEducation Network was sold to Pearson plc in 2000 for $175 million.

While at the Education Network someone approached me with the idea that sparked the beginnings of Bidding for Good.  It seemed worthwhile, and the rest is history.  Today we’ve raised over $200,000,000 for nonprofit organizations.

Debbie Good Miller: That’s got to be rewarding.  How does it work?  What tasks are the responsibilities of the nonprofit organization, and what services does Bidding for Good provide?

Jonathan CarsonVolunteers at the nonprofit organization get the auction items.  We provide some items that can be viewed online.  I like to think about the nonprofit organization’s items as being the “cake,” and the Bidding for Good items as the “icing.”

Bidding for Good provides the tools, training, and an account representative for support.  We provide a “paint by number” build your own auction website that activates ticket sales and showcases items that are entered in the website by the organization.

Though Bidding for Good’s website attracts cause minded auction bidders, the organization should count on bringing in at least 60% of the bidders for their auction.

Debbie Good Miller: That sounds like an easy way to begin building excitement for the auction and the event.

Event planners strive to keep costs down while providing opportunities for enjoyable fundraising.  What is the upfront cost of your service?

Jonathan Carson:  The annual license for Bidding for Good is $600.  Online bidding is tiered.  For the first $20,000 raised, 9% is charged.  From $20,001 – $50,000, 6% is charged.  Proceeds above $50,000 are charged 3%.  Our website features an online cost calculator.  Mobile bidding services at the event cost an additional $200.

Debbie Good Miller:  Your website is filled with testimonials.  Schools, health and human service organizations, environmental causes, places of worship, community organizations, and support for the arts and culture have all benefited.  They clearly believe it’s worth the investment.

Jonathan Carson:  Yes.  Last year we supported over 4,000 auctions and 150 mobile bidding events.  This year we’ll host over 5,000 auctions and over 450 mobile bidding events on the calendar.

Debbie Good Miller:  You’ve over doubled your mobile bidding business in one year.  Word’s out.  Bidding for Good works.

Is there a recent success story that comes to mind?

Jonathan Carson:  As a matter of fact, the Make a Wish Foundation recently used our services for a mobile bidding golf event and raised more than the prior year.  They plan to use that funding towards their annual gala.

This past week the Texas Rangers raised over $160,000 in two hours with 48,000 people in the stadium.  The proceeds will benefit the families that were impacted by the tornados in Texas and Oklahoma.

Debbie Good Miller:  That’s impressive.  Bidding for Good helps many causes in a variety of venues.  Fundraising auctions are easy, fun, and successful – thanks to Bidding for Good.  Thank you, Jon, for talking with Good Celebrations, LLC and sustaining “Charitable Commerce” – shopping with a conscience.  Shopping and fundraising just got easier.

Life is short.  Celebrate!