How to select the right silent auction technology?

Any Event Manager, who has run a silent auction before, will know just how hard it is to decide which silent auction technology is best to use. The market has significantly evolved over the past 8 years and, where appropriate for an event, it is emerging as a viable option with at least 6 credible providers in the UK market alone.

To the untrained eye – it can be compared to selecting an everyday commodity on a supermarket shelf. There are so many varieties, shapes and sizes but it’s about finding the right one for you and your needs.

This blog aims to assist you in selecting the right one for you, giving you the proper criteria to look out for and thereby making sure you make the right choice when choosing a provider. If however, you would like our assistance with the process, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We have built a fantastic scoring matrix that will allow you to compare providers in a very thorough and logical way. Request the matrix here.

1. User Interface
Ensuring your guests have the smoothest experience when using the technology is crucial to the success and uptake of the system.

Do you like the look and feel of the system?
Does it work well your event?

Give the demo a dry run in the office to test.

2. Backend Management System & Reporting
Event Managers love to be in control so having access to the backend of the system and reporting will allow you to make changes and as when needed.

Do you have full access to the system?
How well does it work?
Does it display the data you need?
Can you easily export the data to merge into your current reporting systems?

Being able to access a live report of your event will help you understand and maximise your event next year!

3. Flexibility
Live events are always subject to change. A running order never sticks to the minute by minute plan so ensure your tech provider can be as flexible as you need.

Is it possible to change items in real-time?
Can you access everything you need on the night?

These features will be crucial to ensure your tech runs as smoothly as your event should.

4. Hardware
Tablets and freestanding bidding stations can be a great addition to the event if guests are reluctant to use their phones. iPads, Kindle tablet. But before looking into this option, consider the following:

What do you and your guests prefer?
What hardware do your guests currently use?
Is it suitable for your event?
Would having bidding stations add any value?

Making sure you have the right mix of hardware, to capture all bids throughout the event will be key to maximising fundraising on the night.

5. Mobile readiness
Mobile fundraising is no doubt on the rise in UK, and has taken over in the US and APACt too.

So how good is the offering and its integration with the hardware?
Is mobile right for your event?
Could it be used in the run-up to an event?
Would an app be appropriate or do you prefer a mobile responsive webpage?
How does this link into the activity at the event and the hardware available?

These are all valuable questions you should be asking before jumping on the mobile bandwagon.

6. Features
Many providers promise bells and whistles but ensure the tech you use has all you need for your event rather than getting distracted with features you wouldn’t use.

Do they have the key features you need?
Perhaps table leaderboards, pre-authorisation of card details, live pledge thermometer etc?

Make sure you get the right mix of features at your event to maximise engagement on the day/evening. This could be the difference between top bids and missed pounds in the fundraising pot!

7.CRM integration
Data, data, data! It’s crucial to the reason you run events as it leads to new donors.

How easily can data from the tech be integrated into your CRM system?
Is the tech you want to use compatible with your systems?

Making sure it’s easy to export and use the data you’ve collected can be a big factor in building on those relationships made in the room that night.

8.Service
Service is almost as important as the tech itself. This encompasses service before, during and after the event. So make sure that you also look at what the organisation are offering to support the tech they are selling.

Will you get the very best time and attention at each stage or are you just another client /number?
Will they support you before the event?
Will they be there at the event?
Is their customer service what you’d expect?

In our opinion, they go hand in hand. Good tech is great but you also need somebody to help guide you through using it as effectively for your event to help maximise it’s potential.

9. Auction Items
Many tech providers will offer auction items, sometimes to even lower their up-front fee.

How good are they?
Do you need them?
What is their average margin per item sold?
Are they suitable for your audience in the room?

Having the right items on the night can make a huge difference to the amount you raise. Make sure you understand your guest’s interests before sourcing items for your auction!

10. Price and Payment
Last but not least the price. Budgets are always at the forefront of all charity events, and your ROI has to be as high as possible.

Can the system also assist you with payment collection?
How easy is it for guests to pay?
What reporting do you get?

It’s one thing raising money, it’s another actually collecting it. Making the payment collection seamless will enhance your donor experience and make the night even more enjoyable.

We hope you’ve found this helpful and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch as we would be delighted to help.