Tips On Running Remote Or Virtual Silent Auctions
One of the often overlooked benefits of using a digital silent auction platform is the ability to have guests bidding on items both at the event AND from the comfort of their own homes. This means more people can participate, more eyes are on your auction items, and ultimately, more revenue can be raised for your cause!
Here are some additional points to consider when setting up your auction to support remote bidding:
- Accepting digital payment – now offered by Bid Beacon at NO COST!
- Accepting donations
- Selling raffle tickets
- Best practices for onboarding guests
Accepting Digital Payment
The biggest risk with remote bidding is of course ensuring you receive payment for your auction items. Taking physical payment isn’t really an option, and managing eTransfers can quickly become a headache. Offering auction guests a means to pay with their credit card through the platform significantly streamlines the auction close procedure.
But what if users don’t pay, even with online payment enabled? Deleting a bid because of non-payment is an option, but then the second place bidder needs to be contacted. It can be a bit of a mess.
Bid Beacon has added an option to require pre-authorization of a credit card before bids can be placed (currently available only with the Stripe payment platform). Then, when the auction closes, guests will have their credit card automatically charged for their winnings. This means no chasing down guests for payment, which is a huge reduction of work for the organizers!
Immediate Payment On Donations, Buy Now Items
In addition to auction items, you can also use Bid Beacon to collection donations, as well as sell items at a fixed price (called Buy Now items). Buy Now items could be a stack of 20 chairs that you want to clear out at a fixed price. Some people might buy 1, others might buy 10, until they’re all gone.
Bid Beacon originally had people make donations or purchase Buy Now items, but reserve payment until the auction ended. This is fine for on-site auctions where people can pay for their items with cash or cheque all at once when the auction ends. But now auction admins that have set up any online payment processor (Stripe, Square or PayPal) can turn on an option to have guests pay for donations and Buy Now items immediately.
Selling Raffle Tickets
Auctioning off items remotely still presents the challenge of getting the items to their respective winners. Raffles are a great alternative that allow you to raise more money with less effort when it comes to fulfillment on the back end.
Raffles can be more than just 50/50 draws. Other raffle ideas include luxurious gift baskets, wine draws, gift cards or certificates, and experience packages like concerts or trips. While items with well-defined value like gift cards don’t make for great auction items (as they will only raise up to face value), they tend to work better as a raffle item.
Bid Beacon has seen users leverage our Buy Now items for running raffles, and while it can work, it was a bit clumsy to manage the draw. We have now added some functionality to make this much easier!
Simply create a Buy Now item, set a name and description for your raffle item, and guests can purchase tickets. When the auction ends, a button will appear to get the raffle results. Clicking that will list all the purchases of raffle tickets, assign a ticket number to each, and randomly select a winner. You can use this system selected winner, or use the ticket numbers to do your own draw.
Best Practices For Onboarding Guests
The best approach to this, in our opinion, is to invite guests from within the Bid Beacon platform. This sends guests an email with instructions on how to join your auction, and if they login with the same email the invite was sent to, they will automatically be registered into your auction.
There are also links that can be shared on social media to help get guests into your auction. Once you create your auction, you will see a button named ‘Auction Details’ at the top of the Browse Items page, and here you will find all the links you need.
Check out our best practices guide for more details on getting your auction setup, and guests invited!
Online Payment Is Now Free Until Further Notice!
Many large gatherings and gala dinners for fundraisers have been cancelled for Spring 2020, but organizations still need to raise funds. And remote bidding really needs online payment to work effectively.
We at Bid Beacon recognize the challenges faced by event planners and charitable organizations, and have decided to include the Online Payment add-on for FREE on all auctions until further notice. And as always, Bid Beacon doesn’t take a percentage of revenue, only the payment processors take their fees.