Mobile Bidding Software and Virtual Fundraising: Part II
You’ve decided what mobile bidding software to use for your Virtual Gala (VG), fundraising event or online fundraising strategy. Now what? Time to talk functionality! What exactly can mobile bidding software do for you? The possibilities are endless.
Here are some FAQs about what event software can accomplish.
Can I set our mobile bidding software up myself, or do I need help from a pro?
You certainly can set it up yourself, but you probably want to approach it as a partnership. For many, #MobileBiddingSoftware is not especially user-friendly or intuitive, especially if only using it once or twice a year. During a live streamed fundraiser, for example, if things go wrong, lightning-quick troubleshooting, familiarity with the software and razor-sharp tech skills are CRITICAL. Unless you’re highly-skilled (or a glutton for punishment), save yourself time and frustration by selecting a company or partner that offers software setup before your event and will assist you with running it during (or at the very least, can lend you support). Ideally, all your org should have to worry about is providing the content and associated imagery. Allow seasoned pros to do what they do best – load content into the mobile bidding software and run it for you. BTW, we provide ALL of our virtual clients with 5 hours of our mobile bidding guru’s time on all our virtual events, in case you were wondering.
Can mobile bidding software sell tickets or collect suggested donations, as part of the virtual registration process?
Most good mobile bidding software can indeed sell tickets, and a wide range of them – from zero-cost signup/registration only, to suggested donation amounts, to formal ticket prices – all the way up to full table or sponsorship options. Make SURE the software you select has bidding features and is not just a ticketing site (think Ticketmaster or Eventbrite). In a virtual world, you need significantly more from a ticketing system than you do with an in-person event.
Added bonus: You can add suggested donation buttons into mobile bidding software, too, to recoup some of the costs of your virtual event. We see this as a trending practice moving forward.
Can mobile bidding software handle offering an online auction, a virtual live auction AND a live in-person auction?
Yes, yes, and when it’s safe and legal, YES! Mobile bidding software is nimble. Want to kick off your online auction one week early, and roll it into your live Virtual Gala (VG) the next? Done. Good software will organize the items you’ve procured, too. For example, SchoolAuction.net has an option where packages are grouped according to Online Only, Online to Virtual, and Virtual Only. They recently added an update that enables you to switch from online to live, in-person bidding. Way to innovate, guys!
Who closes out live auction items during our live stream?
Most organizations designate a staff member or volunteer to watch the livestream and close out packages as they are sold in real-time. You can close them out manually, or you can assign items a closing time. If your software or fundraising partners are handling the back end (which we highly recommend), they can do this for you – just tell them what you want and they’ll make it happen.
Who provides the helpline (phone support) on event day? Can we get that?
Most organizations hire a professional to handle this. With all due respect to interns and volunteers, you do not want them in charge here. This person needs to know your mobile bidding software backwards and forwards (plus tricks to make the virtual user experience easier), plus be well-versed in ALL of the technology you’re using. In addition, they need to easily articulate all of this to folks who may be technologically-challenged. Our partnership with local (woman owned!) business, Event Savvy, allows us to provide these services for all of our clients!
Here are the most common questions our help line receives:
How do I get registered?
I registered, but I didn’t get a confirmation email – probably the MOST common question.
How do I give a gift at the appeal?
How do I bid on auction items?
What’s the deal with the raffle?
Why can’t I hear anything?
Can you make a bid/gift for me?
I can’t hear anything. Can you help?
What are best practices for handling pre-committed gifts? Should we start the live stream with those pre-commits and sponsor dollars already loaded into the system, or should they be entered while the live stream is happening?
If you’re using a giving thermometer, most orgs choose to include all revenue streams as part of the thermometer’s totals. But it’s up to you! Typically, orgs choose to begin with sponsorship totals pre-entered in the thermometer, so you’re not starting at zero. Then add in pre-committed gifts as your Dynamic Duo (emcee/host and auctioneer/fundraising ambassador) announces them live from the virtual (or in-person) stage. That way, everyone gets to see the thermometer rise dynamically. Not only is that fun and exciting, our data suggests that this type of visual giving begets more virtual giving!
Who sets up the live stream within the mobile bidding platform for a virtual event?
The production or AV company you’ve partnered with typically handles this part. Most often, they’ll originate the URL prior to event day and test it to make sure everything is copacetic. Then they’ll send YOU the link so you can share it with your donors, supporters and everyone you can possibly think of! Marketing is key to your VG’s success, remember, so be sure to have a rock-solid plan for that too.
Do donors/viewers have to download anything to participate?
We have not noted any events or platforms requiring donors to download anything – but do let us know if you have and we will amend this answer. Thanks for your input!
Is there a way for our older guests to bid/donate if they don’t have a smartphone or computer?
Not technically – but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options. They can bid from anyone’s computer, of course. If they don’t have access to a computer or the internet, they can opt to use a proxy bidder. If set up ahead of time, the software can automatically place bids for someone who’s not present or online, up to maximum bid amounts per the donor’s instructions. You can also opt to assign these folks a ‘handler’ – someone who’s on the phone with the donor, placing bids or giving gifts in real-time per their request. Whatever you do, NEVER EVER let technology get in the way of potential donations!
When an item is sold, is the donor’s card charged automatically?
Depends on the software you’re using. For example, guests check themselves out when using SchoolAuction.net. Greater Giving, however, processes all credit cards at once, after you’ve determined the sales are accurate. It also depends on how the sale or event is initially set up, so this is a great thing to confirm before event day.
How do we sell raffle tickets virtually?
First and foremost, check your state and local laws to be sure you can sell raffle tickets in an online environment. Next step – make the raffle tickets a package, just like auction items, and sell them as a “signup.” Make sure it’s clear how many are available and when exactly the winner will be drawn. Then sharpen your marketing/promotion tools and sell, sell, sell!
Can we include meals or delivered items as part of registration?
Yes, and you have lots of options for doing so! You can opt to include dinner or upgrade options to your traditional registration page. Create a package for guests to purchase on the bidding page or set up a link for guests to work directly with the catering company, so you don’t need to serve as a middle person. You just need to decide which option will work best for your org and your event. But, support for small businesses and restaurants during this time is very well received both by donors and by the business community at large. It’s a win. Win!
Can donors update their own contact info when registering?
Depends on the platform, but most allow donors to update their contact and/or credit card information once they log in. This is a bonus for you as it keeps your donor database clean and accurate!
How are sponsorships handled virtually?
Sponsorships can be sold during registration, just like at in-person events. If you’re selling them via your mobile bidding platform, set up a page dedicated to sponsorship sales. The good news? Sponsor logos can be easily uploaded and featured during your virtual event (or pre or post show). The no-so-good news? Credit card fees. If you’re not selling sponsorships, you can still display their logos in several locations within your software. This will please you sponsors – the more exposure, the better!
Can we include a peer-to-peer element to our virtual event? If so, how?
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a multi-tiered approach to fundraising, where you create personal fundraising pages on behalf of your cause. There typically is a fee to conduct one; others are free though may be a bit limited in functionality. One Cause and Classy are both examples of more comprehensive platforms. Though widely varied in price, both have amazing support teams to help you set up your initial event. Give Lively also has a simple and free version. When conducting a peer-to-peer campaign, social media is your best friend! Use it to drum up competition and encourage donors to engage with each other. Team fundraising goals are great motivators, as is incentivizing the campaign with prizes to create excitement. Ask your software pros which format is best for you! Peer-to-peer fundraisers are getting more popular these days, and for good reason – they help grow your fan base and expose more potential donors/supporters to your cause. We don’t think their popularity will decrease any time soon.
Are you feeling like a mobile bidding software expert, yet? Not quite? That’s okay, we’re here for you. Reach out! And keep reading. Next time, we’ll tell you all about what annoys your donors (as it relates to mobile bidding software and their virtual fundraising event experience) AND things they love.