Charity Auction Software: The Ultimate Buyer’s Guide [Updated]

Nonprofit organizations of all sizes host charity auction fundraising events for one main reason — they work.

Auctions are an extremely effective way to raise money and engage your supporters. They do, however, require an investment of your time and resources in order to really pay off. The most important investment you’ll need to make before getting started? Charity auction software.

We’ve created this updated buyer’s guide to walk you through the ins and outs of auction software to help you find the best fit for your organization, including:

5 Best Charity Auction Software Tools

As your organization prepares for its next silent auction or virtual auction, you’ll have a lot of planning and organizing to do. To save your team’s time and streamline your efforts, you must equip your organization with the right tools for the job.

That’s where silent auction software comes in. Here are our top 5 charity auction software and support tools that can take your event to the next level:

OneCause | Top Charity Auction Software

First to market over a decade ago, OneCause’s full suite of solutions powers mobile bidding, event management, online giving, ticketing, and virtual fundraising for nonprofit organizations of all sizes. We understand what matters most – your mission. And a powerful mission needs powerful technology.

Mobile Bidding and Auction Software simplifies all aspects of your live and silent auction and adds an unparalleled level of fun and excitement to your events.

Overview of OneCause’s Charity Auction Tools

OneCause is committed to providing charity auction software that allows for a seamless giving experience for nonprofit organizations and their donors. From start to finish, your nonprofit is able to run your charity auction as efficiently as possible.

Our technology centralizes all the best components of charity auctions into one software solution, including:

  • Item procurement and tracking
  • Mobile bidding capabilities for donors
  • Event ticketing and registration
  • Website and catalog creation for virtual events
  • Auction description generation utilizing ChatGPT
  • Marketing tools to promote your silent auction
  • Real-time bid tracking and management
  • AI-driven personalized auction item recommendations for your guests
  • Streamlined checkout
  • Detailed analytics to study after your silent auction

OneCause gives your auction attendees more options and methods to engage than ever before. With bidding right on their smartphones, push notifications for their favorite items, and fixed-price purchases, it’s easier than ever to get involved.

This kind of positive, streamlined experience for bidders generates more engagement, bids, and revenue for your silent auction.

Pricing Information

OneCause offers multiple packages to fit your organization’s needs. For more information, visit the OneCause Pricing & Packages page.

Auction Packages | Top Charity Auction Software

Auction Packages is one of the non-profit sectors’ leading source for risk-free travel and experience packages. They offer a wide variety of travel and unique experiential packages for use in live, silent, and online charity auction fundraising events.

Auction Packages offers cost-effective package options, allowing nonprofits to maximize their fundraising efforts. Their full-time concierge team of travel consultants are well versed with travel destinations and have years of experience meeting the expectations of new and seasoned travelers.

Overview of Auction Packages’ Charity Auction Tools

Auction Packages has partnered with numerous travel companies, hotel chains, and experienced providers to offer their clients access to the most exhilarating experiences, including:

  • Domestic & international vacations
  • Fantasy getaways
  • Luxury properties
  • Adventure expeditions
  • Cruises
  • Golf & ski trips
  • Shopping adventures
  • Spa retreats

You won’t have to worry about bidders seeing your auction items and saying, “been there, done that.” Auction Packages adds new exciting packages every month to ensure the most unique upcoming packages and events are made available.

Pricing Information

Because you don’t need to buy your auction packages until after they have sold at your event, the items are risk-free. Auction Packages will give you a price for each package and your organization decides what price to open the auction at.

Should the auction package not reach the desired level that you set as a minimum and you don’t sell the package you are under no obligation to purchase the package from us and no fee will be incurred. Should the package sell at auction simply purchase the package online or call Auction Packages to arrange payment.

To learn more, visit our Auction Packages Partner Page.

Winspire | Top Charity Auction Software

Winspire is your destination for insight into the world of event fundraising, charity auctions, and no-risk travel packages. This top charity auction software provides highly sought after, hard to find, unique experiences for use in charity auctions or fundraisers.

The Winspire team has years of experience helping nonprofits raise over $62 million with over 56,000 events worldwide.

Overview of Winspire’s Charity Auction Tools

Choose from award shows, major sporting events, VIP access, family vacations, international trips, cruises, adventure travel, golf trips and hundreds more. Their process is as simple as 4 easy steps.

  1. Select Experiences: Start by thinking about the demographics of your donor base. Winspire’s Event Fundraising Specialists will help you choose travel packages that will be the best fit for your audience.
  2. Promote Experiences to Your Audience: Shout it from the rooftops – you have awesome packages that are full of once in a lifetime experiences! Promote these packages leading up to your event so donors come excited and prepared to bid.
  3. Offer Experiences at Your Event: Go into your event risk-free. You only purchase the Winspire experiences that raise money at your event, and every dollar you raise above the Nonprofit Cost goes directly to your bottom line.
  4. Winners Redeem Experiences: Once winners have received their redemption vouchers, Winspire will take care of everything – booking the entire trips down to every last detail. Your donors will be raving about their experience at your next event!

Pricing Information

This increasingly popular fundraising tool allows you to place exclusive travel packages in your charity auction without any upfront cost to your organization. Since you purchase only what you sell, every one of Winspire’s experiences is risk free.

To learn more, visit our Winspire Partner Page.

DonorSearch | Top Charity Auction Software

DonorSearch delivers premier donor intelligence data and solutions to nonprofits of all shapes and sizes to strengthen their financial capacity.

Their goal is to provide what nonprofits crave every single day: more accurate, more comprehensive, more actionable data to help you achieve better fundraising and outreach results.

Overview of DonorSearch’s Charity Auction Tools

DonorSearch is the leading provider prospect intelligence that helps nonprofits in all sectors. Their products offer a variety of ways to search for the information your organization needs and unlock key donor insights using DonorSearch’s premier analytics capabilities.

Search Tools

  • Integrated Search: A one-by-one look up module which generates a detailed profile on prospects or donors.
  • Search Options: DonorSearch databases including foundations, businesses, SEC insiders and real estate for connections, locations and giving.
  • Marketing List: Hyper-targeted marketing lists based on over 300 financial, demographic and interest categories.

Analytic & Reporting Tools

  • Portfolio analytics: 12 customizable reports for understanding your donors’ affinity, capacity, interest and location.
  • Donor Mapping: Heat maps in donor-centric areas with advanced filters to customize the type of donors you want to visit.

Pricing Information

Pricing details are available by quote. To learn more, visit our Donor Search Partner Page.

Double the Donation | Top Charity Auction Software

Double the donation is the leading provider of matching gift and volunteer grant solutions to nonprofits and educational institutions.

There’s an unnecessary gap between fundraising organizations and corporate giving programs, to the tune of $4-7 billion in unclaimed matching gift revenue annually. Double the Donation helps nonprofits and educational institutions increase fundraising from corporate matching gift and employee volunteer grant programs.

Overview of Double the Donation’s Charity Auction Tools

Double the Donation has two plans, Premium and 360MatchPro, that provide nonprofits with tools to identify match-eligible donors, drive matches to completion, and gain actionable insights.

  • Premium Platform: Donors can access searchable and user-friendly matching gift information from anywhere on your site, including donation and acknowledgement pages. Just add a few lines of code to your website and Double the Donation’s searchable database will appear.
  • 360MatchPro Platform: Your organization can drive every match to completion with customizable tracking and automated messaging options. The platform also allows you to Identify your top matching gift opportunities and put an automated plan in place. 360MatchPro integrates directly into the OneCause Peer-to-Peer Fundraising solution to capture employment information and follow up appropriately with donors about matching gifts.

The benefit that this charity auction software has on your nonprofit’s campaigns is right in its name! Double the Donation allows you to simply and effectively bring in more dollars to power your mission.

Pricing Information

For up to date costs, visit our Double the Donation Partner Page.

Charity Auction Software FAQs

How does an online charity auction work?

The move to online giving opens up more possibilities for nonprofits: new donors, remote supporters and longer fundraising options. But many fundraisers are still grappling with how to not only move their fundraising online but thrive in a virtual world!

We’ve broken down how to take your auction online in 8 simple steps:

  • Step 1: Set up an online auction site. To host an online charity auction, you’ll need a digital venue. Online auction software will help streamline you online event process from start to finish. Make it easy on your organization and your donors by investing in the right technology.
  • Step 2: Pre-register bidders. To prepare for your online auction, bidders first register online by inputting their name and payment information on your online giving center. You’ll want to be sure to require an address at registration in order to ship silent auction items to your winners.
  • Step 3: Spread the word. Don’t forget to share the registration link a few weeks in advance to generate excitement and maximum bidding! Leverage your ambassadors and use social media to spread the word far and wide.
  • Step 4: Open the bidding. Once the start date of the virtual auction rolls around, open the bidding to your donors. The great thing about an online auction is that you can extend the bidding time far beyond what you can with an onsite event.
  • Step 5: Start at the starting bid amount. Each silent auction item should be set to a starting bid amount. This starting bid amount dictates the minimum amount that the first bidder can pay to start off the bidding on that item. It is industry best practice to set minimum bids at 40-50% of the Fair Market Value (FMV).
  • Step 6: Raise each bid by the minimum raise. Each bidder must top the previous bid by the minimum raise amount to become the new highest bidder. The minimum raise amount should be set between 10-15% of the item’s FMV.
  • Step 7: Close the bidding. The final minutes of your silent auction are pivotal in reaching or exceeding your fundraising goals. Ramp up the excitement with text message notifications, count down clocks, and blasting on social media.
  • Step 8: Process winners’ payments. By submitting their payment information before the online auction began, the winner has agreed to pay the amount they bid for that item. The amazing thing about online auction software is that credit cards and online payments such as Apple Pay and Google Pay are automatically and instantly processed through the site.
  • Step 9: Ship items to winners. Once your online auction is over, it’s time to close out and ship your items off to their lucky winners in a timely manner. Be sure to package them securely, thank them for their support, and let them know how their donation will be used to support your mission.

What should you look for in charity auction software?

  • Cloud-based. Being able to access all of your planning tools and data from anywhere at any time is crucial. Cloud-based software also makes it much easier for your team to stay organized remotely.
  • Flexible design. Choose a platform that lets you customize your fundraising site and individual participant fundraising pages to fit your brand and needs.
  • Mobile optimized. The number of nonprofit transactions made through mobile devices increased by 50% over the past year. It’s essential that your software is optimized to meet donors where they are – their smartphones. Find a software solution that lets you text a link to a silent auction or a live auction registration site to drive awareness to your event.
  • Item management. Make sure your software enables you to track and manage your auction items. Even better if it has functionality to easily group related items into packages to maximize revenue.
  • Item procurement. Look for software that allows you to organize your item procurement volunteers and share your item needs requests with them, allowing for a more effective and efficient item donation process.
  • Filtering capabilities. Be sure your charity auction software allows donors to filter through auction items based on customized settings, such as minimum and maximum bids for items.
  • Online bidding. Of course, this is a must have. Your online bidding software should have robust and effective online bidding features whether your event is online-only or in conjunction with an in-person event.
  • Payment and registration. Your online fundraising site should serve as a central hub to register guests online for bidding/donating and collecting credit cards. Make sure your software is PCI compliant with built-in security functionality.
  • Social media integrations. Link your social channels from the software to maximize your reach and communicate your cause.
  • Online notifications. Messaging and text notifications make it easy to remind participants of your virtual fundraisers. Keep up the energy by letting them know when they’ve been outbid, or for peer-to-peer fundraisers, thank them immediately for their donation.
  • Custom pages. Your online auction software should let you create unlimited custom fundraising and informational pages. Your peer-to-peer software should allow individual participants to easily spin up custom fundraising pages.
  • Reporting and analytics. This is absolutely essential. Any tool you use should make it easy to gather and analyze your fundraising data. Virtual and online fundraising software should have built-in analytics tools, reporting, and/or integrations with top CRMs.

Why are virtual charity auctions popular?

Whether it’s part of a planned attempt to grow online, or in reaction to an unforeseen change affecting an event (e.g., COVID-19, local emergency, weather, disaster, public emergency etc.) – nonprofits are looking to virtual charity auctions to move their missions forward online.

And then benefits are endless, including:

  • Increased reach to donors who may not have been able to come to an in-person event.
  • Extended fundraising window by keeping the auction open longer.
  • Event expenses are reduced because there is no physical event being held.
  • Easy to plan and execute because the logistics are not as complex
  • Technology and video allow for you and your donors to still feel connected

Top Charity Auction Software Features

The search for charity auction software can quickly become overwhelming. With each site stating different “must have” features, it can be difficult to figure out what your organization truly needs.

We’ve broken it down into item procurement & planning, mobile bidding technology, event ticketing features, registration & checkout tools, as well as gamification and motivation features. Let’s dive in!

Item procurement & planning

An auction can only be as successful as the quality of its items. Priceless and engaging items excite your audience and raise more proceeds to fuel your mission. Securing and managing the perfect auction items may seem a little daunting – but have no fear. The right charity auction software will make this an organized, intuitive process.

The top item procurement & planning tools will help your organization:

  • Generate solicitation letters
  • Track procurement status
  • Log item location
  • Bundle multiple items into packages
  • Auto assign package numbers
  • Customize starting bids and raises
  • Group items by category
  • Offer once in a lifetime experience to your donors

Better items equal more bids. More bids equal more proceeds. More proceeds equal more money for your mission.

Mobile bidding technology

Mobile Bidding is a paperless bidding method that offers guests the ultimate auction experience. By allowing your donors to bid straight from their phones, not only will your organization receive more bids with mobile bidding software, but you also add an unparalleled level of fun and excitement to your events.

Mobile bidding tools are a necessity for charity auctions of any kind. The ability to bid from a smartphone has completely changed how live, silent, and online auctions can be planned and managed. Plus, they provide huge fundraising benefits by keep guests more engaged for the whole auction.

When investing in mobile bidding tools, look for these features:

  • Intuitive item browsing. Mobile bidding tools can pull item listings from your event site so guests can browse items and place bids without needing to jump between displays. Plus, guests can even automate bidding on their favorite items.
  • Text notifications. Send attendees text messages throughout the night to keep them engaged with your auction. Automate the notifications through your software to send messages when guests have been outbid, when the bidding is about to close, and more.
  • Gamification features. Scoreboards give guests real-time updates throughout the event. Feature the status on popular items, live Twitter streams, progress thermometers, and more to ensure your auction is always exciting.
  • Fixed-price options. Offer standalone, fixed-price items for purchase through your mobile bidding software, too. This is a good strategy for raffles, sign-up parties, and selling merchandise during the event itself.
  • Donation functionality. Your auction software should also make it easy for guests to simply donate to your cause. Look for the ability to add donation buttons and packages to capture some extra generosity on the big night.
  • Covered cost options. Give guests the option to cover the credit card processing fees that typically cut into a nonprofit’s revenue. This will maximize proceeds and let donors ensure their bids and donations are having maximum impact.

Event ticketing features

For many auctions, event ticketing is a proven revenue source. With the right auction software, nonprofits can automate ticketing, streamline the donor experience, and ultimately drive fundraising success.

When it comes to event ticketing, the right auction software will allow your nonprofit to:

  • Sell ticket packages for donors and sponsors.
  • Manage RSVP from guests.
  • Offer coupon codes for discounts.
  • Sell VIP, raffle tickets, and party passes.
  • Collect seating requests and guest names’.
  • Track guest dietary restrictions.
  • Assign guests to tables.

Registration & checkout tools

Registration is the first impression your guests have of your auction and checkout is the last experience they have with your event – make them count!

Part of providing your guests with an amazing auction experience involves ensuring your auction software can do the following.

  • Use express check-in and contactless checkout to minimize lines and wait times.
  • Capture additional guest information.
  • Receive instantaneous access to transactions.
  • Utilize mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.
  • Email receipts to your donors.
  • Split bills and add charges.
  • Unite guests with their items.

Your team must be equipped with the right tools so volunteers can get guests in and out of the event in a seamless process.

Gamification & motivation features

In today’s fundraising world, gamification is a must. Gamification features must be both mobile optimized and accessible anywhere at any time – making it easy for donors to join and engage in fundraising. Why? It makes charitable donations social, mobile, and FUN!

Your charity auction software should contain one or more gamification tools. These are extremely useful at building excitement and directing attention during the auction itself. Scoreboards and fundraising progress thermometers are great for keeping up the energy.

Countdown clocks are another great way to build up the momentum as your auction ends, especially when used alongside text notifications in your mobile bidding tools. These gamification and motivation features will allow your organization to:

  • Showcase current bids.
  • Highlight donation progress.
  • Recognize donors.
  • Foster competitive fundraising.

Learn From These OneCause Success Stories

How 50 Legs Hit 111% of Their Live Auction Goal

50 Legs has served over 550 amputees obtain prosthetics and continue to live healthy lives. They wanted to shake things up in their yearly gala by leveraging their software to drive deeper engagement.

By using their built-in analytics dashboard, 50 Legs could see real-time fundraising data and insights. They gathered specific reports on auction performance, proceeds, and ticketing and registration data. They were able to find great success in their event by hitting 111% of their auction goal! Read more about this organization’s keys to success in their success story.

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How Making Memories Rocked Their First Large-Scale Event

When Making Memories Playschool decided to host a gala to support their move into a new building, they looked to fundraising initiatives to help support the cost of the new space.

As this was their first large-scale event, the team wanted to find user-friendly software that would make their planning, execution, and event wrap-up as seamless as possible. Learn how they utilized OneCause’s easy-to-use software to reach a whopping $90,000 in proceeds in their success story.

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How Lincoln Park Community Services Took the Stress Out of Event Management

Lincoln Park Community Services (LPCS) dedicates its time to providing the necessary resources to individuals experiencing homelessness throughout the year. They wanted a new solution to their yearly fundraiser event that would foster deeper connections with donors while taking the stress off their staff.

With the right technology in place, LPCS was able to manage their event from start to finish without putting stress on their volunteers and staff. Managing ticketing, auction item performance and checkout from one dashboard removed any headaches the day of. Read more about their event’s success in their success story.

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