Charity auctions are a brilliant way to engage new and existing supporters. Plus, these events can rake in donations, but just as long as you have the right auction software for your nonprofit organization’s needs.
Planning a charity auction is no simple task. There is an extensive to-do list for your event team while planning your auction, between item procurement and seating arrangements. Luckily, there’s a solution: auction software is ready to help you through even the most chaotic times of managing your event.
But with so many options to choose from, how can you make sure you select the right auction tools for your nonprofit? We’ve put together a list of fourteen of the most effective auction software providers for your reference. After all, planning your event is already hard enough.
Before determining which auction software provider is best, it’s important to have a basic understanding of the features you’ll need to pull off an effective charity auction event. In this guide, we’ll cover the following:
The right auction software can mean the difference between a successful fundraising event that drives your mission forward or an unsuccessful waste of time and resources. Here at Snowball, we’ve done ample research and have compiled this comprehensive guide to help you choose the right auction software. Are you ready to get started? Let’s jump in.
Auction Software Features to Consider
If you’ve never shopped around for auction software, it can be a bit overwhelming to know what you’re looking for. Here are some characteristics you’ll want to keep in mind as you explore your various options:
Ticketing & Registration
Whether you choose to host an in-person or a virtual auction, ensuring effective ticketing and registration practices is crucial. After all, it’s how people are able to attend your auction event! Consider the following questions when planning your registration process:
- Will you charge for tickets? If so, how much will they cost? While some charity auctions charge a cover fee for participants, others rely instead on sliding donations or overall bid revenue to raise money. If you decide to charge, it’s a good idea to keep the price low to keep your guests in the giving mood.
- Will you enforce a registration cap? A registration cap is primarily important for in-person events where you may run out of physical space for your attendees. However, even for virtual events, guest limits can lead to a feeling of exclusivity and urgency when you begin to promote your upcoming auction. If you do decide on setting a cap, be sure to let your supporters know when you’re approaching your limit so they have the chance to register before it’s too late.
For an in-person event, encouraging pre-registration allows you to better plan and prepare the venue and space for the most comfortable experience possible. For example, you’ll know how many tables and seats to put out and have better estimates for your catering needs.
For both online and face-to-face auctions, having an accurate estimate of attendees allows you to get a better sense of planned revenue and fundraising goals. Therefore, be sure that your registration process is simple and straightforward to get as many guests registered beforehand as possible.
Online & Mobile Bidding
The way participants bid for auction items is arguably the most essential function of your auction software. It is directly through your bidding tools that attendees can take part in the auction and support your cause.
Remember, the more straightforward the bidding experience is, the higher the level of engagement and the more money you’ll raise for your cause.
You must invest in auction software that allows users to bid from whichever device they choose—whether that’s a smartphone, tablet, or desktop computer. For instance, if your software only functions from a full-sized computer, you essentially limit your guests’ ability to participate by excluding mobile users.
Check-Out & Donations
Your check-out process is one of the most important elements of your charity auction because it’s what will likely leave a lasting impression on your guests. While a streamlined and user-friendly process can leave attendees in a great mood and looking forward to your next event, a poorly designed process can leave a bad taste in guests’ mouths.
Here are a few things to consider when planning your auction:
- Ensure payments are processed securely. Whichever auction software you decide on, make sure it uses a proactive and secure payment processing tool. Otherwise, you risk guest information getting into the wrong hands, which can harm both your supporters and your reputation.
- Speed up the check-out process whenever possible. An unnecessarily lengthy check-out process is one of the worst things you can do for your auction. Instead, be sure to only require essential information for payments, which your team can even collect beforehand to streamline check-out continuously.
- Offer multiple opportunities for additional donations. The revenue coming from auction items is a great way to raise money for your cause, but it shouldn’t be the only way. Make sure guests have the option to quickly and easily make additional donations at your auction, including before, during, and after the event.
With these best practices, you’ll be able to provide a positive user experience by saving time and keeping sensitive personal and financial information secure.
Donor & Attendee Management
Some auction tools come with their own reporting and dashboard features. However, if you want a more comprehensive look at your data, you’ll want to look into auction software that can integrate with a robust CRM tool. Your CRM is the hub for your donor profiles, contact information, engagement data, and more. Without it, you’d lack crucial data that makes your supporter outreach possible and provides analytics for your future auctions. In which case, when choosing your auction software, ensure it’s compatible with your existing fundraising stack.
Therefore, when choosing the best auction software, consider if the data you collect on auction attendees can be quickly transferred to your donor database. If not, you may have to consider the time it would take for manual transfers or lose out on intuitive data-driven insights.
Overall, your team should be able to have a game plan in mind for each of the aforementioned functions before choosing your auction software platform.
Our Favorite Auction Software Providers Reviewed
To get started, we’ll walk through fourteen of our favorite software providers for charity auctions—whether you’re hosting an in-person event, a virtual rendering, or a hybrid event. Let’s explore your array of options.
Snowball’s powerful suite of fundraising tools effectively tackles your organization’s need for affordable yet robust auction software in the nonprofit space. In addition to their easy-to-use online donation pages and text-to-give functionality, they now offer the greatest valued auction tools in the market.
This top-of-the-line auction tool provides fundraisers with accessible resources they need to pull off a successful event. Snowball makes your auction available from anywhere. Participants can bid from wherever they are, whenever they want, with real-time notifications and mobile bidding tools.
Speaking of streamlined user experience, 4 out of 5 Snowball donations result in a card on file for future giving—effectively allowing for single-click gifts going forward. Supporters from anywhere in the Snowball network can seamlessly donate across organizations (including nonprofits, faith-based organizations, and schools) without having to re-enter their payment information constantly.
Snowball offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Ability to accept additional donations via your Snowball account
- Online event registration and ticketing tools
- Unlimited app-based auctions with unlimited auction items
- Mobile and online bidding options offering contactless participation, supported by all major browsers and devices for increased accessibility
- Text-to-bid functionality optimized for live (virtual and in-person) events
- Streamlined checkout process and automated email receipts
- Email and text notifications when a guest has won or been outbid
- Compilation of all auction data in one location along with a display of real-time stats and fundraising updates
- “Purchase Now” option for raffle tickets or instant item purchases
- Flexible and secure payment gateways, with the choice of bringing your own or using the dedicated Snowball payment processing tool
- High-quality customer support available in both English and Spanish
Your fundraising team will be well-equipped to run a successful auction with these tools and functions and raise more for your mission.
Snowball is at the top of our list because it offers the best value of any auction platform out there. Choose from several free fundraising tools with our Essential Plan, or feel free to explore our more comprehensive Premium Plan for $549/year.
Then, be sure to add on their auction software package for an additional fee onto either account. If you’re investing in the Professional, or Enterprise plans, you’re able to receive these benefits in your package. If you’re looking for the most robust tools for the lowest price, Snowball is the most suitable tool for your organization.
OneCause is a comprehensive fundraising platform that specializes in helping nonprofits maximize the impact of their charity auctions.
Their software simplifies the planning, execution, and wrap-up of your charity auction event. With such tools, you’ll be able to raise funds for your organization and build out donor relationships.
OneCause offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Auction item management and procurement
- Online ticket sales
- Seamless registration process
- Donation appeals, raffle ticket purchase, and max bids
- Instant checkout and automatic email receipts
- Post-event analytics and reporting
From item procurement and registration to emailed receipts and reporting, OneCause will help your organization host an incredible event from start to finish with their comprehensive solutions.
Handbid is an online silent auction software platform that works with nonprofits to pull off successful events. Together, your teams can bring in higher amounts of revenue and better engage your guests and supporters.
Their software is great for hosting virtual events, especially when traditional in-person offerings are no longer feasible options. With Handbid, your fundraising team can even run the entire show online from your own home offices with ease.
Handbid offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Web-based and live event bidding
- Auction management tools
- Display of real-time stats
- Add-on ticketing functionality
- Custom training and on-site staff availability
This auction software provider is a great choice for organizations that want to bring their virtual events to the next level.
Handbid’s auction software is available in five pricing packages, beginning at $696/year. Depending on the number of events you’d like to host each year, you may want to look at one of their more expansive plans. Plus, Handbid offers substantial discounts to organizations that sign on for multiple years at a time.
Qgiv is a comprehensive nonprofit fundraising toolkit with extensive fundraising auction functionality. With an app-based auction platform, the Qgiv team can help your team pull off a successful charity auction whenever you’re ready.
Along with peer-to-peer fundraising tools, online donation forms, and extensive data reporting, Qgiv’s auction software can bring in increased fundraising revenue for any nonprofit organization.
Qgiv offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Unlimited app-based auctions
- Mobile and offline bidding
- Online sales of raffle tickets, refreshments, etc.
- App-based or QR code check-in and checkout
- Tracking and display of fundraising goals
With these auction tools and more, you can begin raising money through dynamic fundraising events in no time.
Qgiv’s auction software begins at $229/month. Or, you can invest in their all-in-one plan (including mobile fundraising, peer-to-peer, and auction software) for $399/month.
5. Bidding Owl
Bidding Owl is a dedicated auction platform that can help your nonprofit team get up and running with auction fundraising without huge investments of time, money, or effort.
Not only do they provide the tools you’ll need for a successful auction, they even get you set up with your own, fully customizable auction website.
Bidding Owl offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Auction site-building tools
- Ability to accept donations online
- Online ticket and raffle sales
- Previewing and pre-bidding functionality
- Text notifications
- Automatic invoice processing
This auction software can simplify the steps involved in planning an auction before, during, and after the event.
Bidding Owl’s auction software pricing is based on a percentage (5%) of total revenue collected by your event. In other words, if an item sells for $100, Bidding Owl collects $5 for their performance fee.
ClickBid has been a pioneer in auction software since the rollout of mobile bidding tools in 2002. This dedicated fundraising auction platform provides the tools and resources any organization needs to ensure a successful event.
Despite its extensive functions and comprehensive offerings, the ClickBid software is intuitive and easy-to-use, even for auction beginners.
ClickBid offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Early bidding functionality
- Mobile bidding
- Registration and check-in tools
- Private auction platform
- Silent or live virtual auction
- “Second chance” auction to clear out inventory
Plus, if you’re hosting a virtual or hybrid event, the ClickBid team has the tools to engage participants in real-time through effective live-streaming practices.
ClickBid’s auction software starts at $795 for an annual license good for up to 4 events in a year. They also offer additional add-on services such as event live-streaming, mass messaging, and ticketing or landing pages.
RainWorx’s dedicated auction software, AuctionWorx, is a dedicated fundraising platform that empowers nonprofits to create their own charity auction websites with ease. With the available auction tools, you can quickly get your auction site up and running to start selling as soon as possible!
Then, you can decide whether to allow other businesses and community members to sell within your site, or you may decide to be the sole seller for your auction.
RainWorx offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Ability to list own auctions or enable multiple vendors
- Fixed price and make-an-offer functionality
- The choice between single seller or multiple seller modes
- Sales invoicing, sales tax, and shipping options
You can even use their online demo to really get a feel for their auction software functionality!
AuctionWorx by RainWorx can be purchased for a one-time licensing fee of $2,995. This includes access to the auction software package along with 12 months of standard support services.
GiveSmart hosts various auction software products, including event management, mobile bidding, and silent auction tools. Plus, their comprehensive fundraising platform goes as far as to include intuitive online giving pages, text-to-give fundraising, and integrated live-streaming.
With the GiveSmart auction software, you’ll have everything you need to plan and host a successful charity auction for your cause.
GiveSmart offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Unlimited DIY events
- Tech support with extended hours
- Online training academy and onboarding services
- Ticketing and seating charts
- Event equipment
Plus, the GiveSmart team is ready and able to provide unique insights and dedicated customer support at varying levels, depending on the auction package you choose.
GiveSmart has three service plans, including Do-It-Yourself, Standard, and Premium packages. Request a demo from the GiveSmart team to learn more about their offerings and pricing levels.
Auctria is a complete auction software provider that You can use to pull off fundraising events of all shapes and sizes. Its platform is easy to use for fundraisers and auction participants alike, providing a seamless experience to all.
Plus, their reporting tools are top-notch, allowing you to collect and analyze fundraising data that you can use to provide valuable insights into your performance strategy.
Auctria offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Item procurement tracker
- Bidder automation from registration
- Printed materials generation
- Streamlined checkout
- Mobile and online bidding
From the beginning of the planning process to beyond your event, Auctria has the tools and features to help.
Auctria offers a free auction software plan known as the Explorer, which includes basic online bidding tools and other auction resources. However, you may want to look into one of their more comprehensive plans, such as the Emerald for $300/year or the Diamond for $600/year.
BidJS provides intuitive auction software from a dedicated platform that allows nonprofits and fundraisers to bring in more for any cause. The BidJS team prides itself on being one of the most accessible auction platforms, as it’s supported by all major browsers and devices, along with being multilingual-friendly.
BidJS offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Timed auctions (including options to bid, buy now, or make an offer)
- Live auctions through real-time webcast tools
- Custom styling and branding
- Multi-device and mobile-friendly
- Data collection and management
The BidJS software is easy to install on any website, but if you have trouble, they have a team of partners worldwide that can help you out!
BidJS refers to itself as a “pay as you go” auction software package. With no set-up fees or commission, they offer monthly fixed-price contracts instead. Be sure to contact their team to get a quote.
11. Silent Auction Pro
Silent Auction Pro offers multi-user silent auction software that can help your team manage your event in the virtual space from anywhere. This tool automatically produces materials for both your team and attendees, such as program guides, bidding sheets, and invoices.
Silent Auction Pro offers the following features for your auction:
- Real-time information tracking
- Customized print and email templates
- Streamlined check-in
With Silent Auction Pro’s data-tracking capabilities and follow-up materials, you’ll host an event that will engage your audience and keep them coming back to your future events.
Silent Auction Pro has a few options for your auction software, starting at $19.95/month with a $99 initial setup fee. Two in-person event platforms are available, starting at $348/year and 2% of auction sales and 1% of ticket sales.
12. Gavel Buddy
Gavel Buddy is an excellent solution for a virtual auction, as auctions continue to gain popularity all the time. Gavel Buddy can help your team create your own auction website using their custom tools. Your supporters can view and cast bids from their personal devices from anywhere in the world.
Gavel Buddy’s tool is an excellent option for:
- Short bidding turnaround
- Customer support
- Tracking outstanding balances for bidders to ensure payment
- Effectively communicating news and updates to bidders and sellers
Gavel Buddy’s software packages are both set at $59/month. Check out their pricing page to choose the best package for your needs.
Accelevant provides an auction software that lets your event team set up a website quickly, so they can focus on the multitude of tasks an auction requires. Stay in touch with your registrants with Accelevant’s custom messaging features, which help you send out custom emails.
Accelevant provides key features for your auction such as:
- Instant fundraising event analytic reports
- Seamless bidding checkout with multiple payment options
- Mobile and online bidding for any device
Accelevant also allows for streamlined registration and a multitude of virtual auction tools to help you raise as much as possible at your next event.
Accelevant offers multiple prices for its array of fundraising, ticketing, and event packages. Specifically, auctions are priced at $1 per ticket with a $249 activation fee for your organization.
Xcira is known for providing an easy and straightforward virtual and in-person auction experience. Your team is able to engage all of your supporters near and far with optimized audio and visual auction broadcasting. Additionally, this platform takes the pain out of planning with floor plan options and other auction management tools.
Xcira offers the following features within their auction software package:
- Floor Plan Management System for organizing your auction’s floor plan.
- AuctionEar Mobile App for supporters to watch your auction virtually
- Online marketplace for virtual auctions
- Intelligent Conditioner Evaluator to create data reports for future fundraising and event strategies
- Mobile bidding capabilities
With these features, your team can easily facilitate an auction in the virtual space that will raise ample funds.
Contact Xcira to get a quote on their online silent auction software.
Whichever auction software your organization chooses to invest in, you’ll be able to run a successful fundraising event. Be sure to consider each option carefully based on your needs and goals for your event.
Your upcoming auction has incredible potential for both strengthening donor relationships and increasing fundraising revenue. Investing in the right auction software solution can help your organization better manage your event from start to finish.
For more information, take a look at our other informational guides to powerful fundraising tools and strategies:
- Silent Auctions: A Comprehensive Guide for Smart Nonprofits. How do you know which type of auction is right for you? Read through our guide to silent auctions to learn more.
- Free Fundraising Software for Nonprofits: Top Providers. Fundraising software can get pricey, but it doesn’t have to. Check out this list of free and low-cost fundraising software providers.
- Virtual Fundraising: The Complete Guide for 2021 & Beyond. Find out the best practices for virtual fundraising during a year of virtual, hybrid, and minimal in-person events in the wake of COVID-19.