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Online and Silent Auction Software: 8 Top Providers Reviewed

Auction Planning

Silent Auction Bidding Technology News

Over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 pandemic has driven an increasing number of organizations to invest in software solutions to interact with their supporters. Fortunately, fundraising technology has continued to evolve to meet these new challenges, providing organizations with a wide selection of event software providers to choose from, especially for auctions.

Online and silent auction software have been around for years, and have already proven their ability to transform both in-person and online auctions for the better. From keeping auction items organized to making the event accessible to more guests, silent auction software has been a staple of many charitable organizations’ tech stacks long before social distancing. 

However, with so many options, some organizations may feel overwhelmed trying to compare dozens of unique providers. To help give your organization’s research a starting point, our team at Handbid has meticulously researched eight of the best silent auction software providers around. Let’s get started.

 

Improve your online auction with Handbid! Request a demo.

What Should You Look For in Silent Auction Software?

At Handbid, we’ve worked with thousands of organizations to pull off engaging silent auctions that inspire support and lead to lasting donor relationships. We understand what it takes to create a standout event and how the right tools can take your efforts to the next level. Using our first-hand experience, we’ve identified several key characteristics to look for when assessing silent auction software:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Integrated payments with recurring donation processing features
  • User profile creation tools
  • User privacy measures and data security 
  • Ability to host both virtual and hybrid events
  • Native apps for iPhone and Android
  • Backend event management tools
  • Real-time updates for bidders
  • Integrated platform with multiple fundraising methods beyond auctions, such as peer-to-peer campaigns
  • Integratable with several CRMs and Donor Management platforms
  • Transparent pricing with no hidden fees

This may seem like a long list of features, but many of these items, such as data security and a user-friendly interface, are fundamentals. Beyond these basics, different providers will excel in different ways, meaning your organization should strive to find a silent auction software provider that has all these features and meets your unique needs.

Explore the best overall silent auction software, Handbid. 

Handbid - Best Overall Silent Auction Software

Overview

Handbid was originally created as an answer to the lack of easy-to-use, cost-effective silent auction solutions for nonprofits. Now, ten years after its initial launch, Handbid has evolved to support thousands of auctions, raising hundreds of millions for nonprofits in a wide range of industries, operating all around the world. 

Additionally, Handbid’s services have expanded to include additional event management tools, such as ticketing, registration, automated guest check-in, live-streaming, peer-to-peer fundraising, text-to-give, crowdfunding campaign support, and more. However, even as Handbid has grown, it hasn’t strayed from its roots of being user-friendly, providing all of these tools in one intuitive system. 

What We Like

Handbid’s ease of use and extensive suite of tools has made it the preferred online auction software of hundreds of nonprofits, both big and small. Here is a shortlist of the many reasons we agree that Handbid is the best overall silent auction software available:

  • Native mobile apps. Handbid has mobile apps for both iPhone and Android, which have been in use for over ten years, earning a near five-star rating from 17,000 users. 
  • Real-time updates. During your auction, participants will receive real-time push notifications or text messages for all bidding activity, outbid alerts, and messages from auction managers. 
  • Account creation. Handbid allows your auction’s repeat guests to create universal accounts, letting them participate in multiple events without re-registering and re-entering their payment information. 
  • Live-stream tools. Stay in touch with your guests with Handbid’s integrated live-stream tools for in-person, hybrid, and virtual events, including optional “zero-latency” streams.
  • Multiple payment options. Guests can pay for their items, donate, buy tickets, and make other payments using stored credit cards, Apple Pay, or Google Pay.
  • Strong security measures. Handbid is PCI compliant and has received high-security scores from third-party security risk assessors. 
  • Intuitive manager dashboard. Keep every aspect of your event organized with one platform that allows you to set up and manage auctions, peer-to-peer fundraisers, events, and donation campaigns.
  • Customizability. Handbid offers organizations the ability to fully customize and brand their event’s landing pages. Organizations can also use a white-label service to customize the entire platform.
  • Fixed-pricing plans. Handbid’s transparent price plans give organizations the flexibility to customize their silent auction software. Moreover, all of Handbid’s prices are published on their website with no hidden fees, letting customers know exactly what they’re purchasing

Things to Consider 

Handbid is a robust, flexible software that can support in-person, hybrid, and virtual events. Plus, Handbid’s Event Toolkit includes other features such as a custom theme editor, text-to-give ability, and peer-to-peer capabilities. 

Handbid’s software gives users the power of choice and control over their auctions, and it can be a bit overwhelming at first. Like most software solutions, new users will need to go through an onboarding process to set up and learn the system. More tech-savvy users can experiment on their own, while those who prefer being guided through the process of accelerating their learning can sign-up for a coaching package, which provides one-on-one training. 

 

Transform your auction with Handbid's silent auction software! Request a demo.

 

Learn more about the Qgiv, a peer-to-peer software solution that recently added silent auction software.

Qgiv - Peer-to-Peer Software Recently Adding Silent Auction Software

Overview

Historically, Qgiv has primarily offered peer-to-peer and online donation services. However, they have recently expanded their offerings to include basic silent auction software features. Their new auction software has both a web-based interface and native apps for iPhone and Google, although the recent launches of both native apps mean they have limited reviews and may require further research before making an investment. 

What We Like

  • Monthly subscriptions. By allowing organizations to purchase software month-to-month, Qgiv provides flexibility for organizations that do not need online auction software year-round. 
  • A suite of fundraising tools. In addition to auction software, Qgiv’s fundraising software also includes support for recurring donations, peer-to-peer, text-to-give, and crowdfunding.
  • Transparent pricing. We love that Qgiv publishes their pricing!

Things to Consider 

  • High credit card processing fees. Qgiv charges more to process credit cards than most of its competitors. These costs will add up with each transaction and can impact an auction’s potential revenue. 
  • New software and mobile apps. New fundraising tools can be exciting to try out, but they may also need further refining as they have yet to be tested by a large-scale audience. Additionally, silent auction software is notable for being particularly difficult to engineer when compared to other event-based fundraising tools. This means organizations that primarily offer silent auction software and expand to offer other fundraising solutions tend to be more reliable than those that add auction software later. 

SchoolAuction.net is the best silent auction software designed for schools.

SchoolAuction.net - Silent Auction Software Designed for Schools

Overview

As their name suggests, SchoolAuction.net is a silent auction software designed primarily for schools. SchoolAuction.net has been going strong in the auction space for many years, powering thousands of auctions for schools and other organizations. Plus, their software offers both web and mobile solutions, allowing your auction’s guests to bid from home or while on the go.

What We Like

  • Long history in the industry. SchoolAuction.net is well respected in the auction industry and has been operating for many years, providing them with decades of experience they have incorporated into their platform. 
  • Transparent pricing. Like Handbid and Qgiv, SchoolAuction.net publishes their pricing on their website with no hidden fees. 
  • Additional resources. In addition to information about their silent auction software, SchoolAuction.net provides several additional resources on how to use their software as well as auction best practices.  

Things to Consider  

  • Practicality for non-school-related organizations. SchoolAuction.net can be used by any nonprofit, but charitable organizations that are unrelated to schools may confuse guests by sending them to register at a website with “schoolauction.net” in the domain. 
  • Dated interface. As a long-running software provider, SchoolAuction.net’s software has undergone many updates, and currently, its user interface is a bit outdated and overly complicated. 
  • Issues with event follow-up. Among user reviews, some have noted that SchoolAuction.net occasionally has issues related to post-event reports and guest receipts. 

BiddingOwl is the best free silent auction software for in-person auctions.

BiddingOwl - Best Free Silent Auction Software

Overview

BiddingOwl’s silent auction software helps small nonprofits run in-person auctions for free. For nonprofits looking to host virtual and hybrid events, they offer add-ons features that allow organizations to take their auctions online for an additional cost. 

What We Like

  • Free in-person auction tools. Organizations looking to host small, in-person auctions with paper bid sheets can use BiddingOwl for free. For small nonprofits with tight budgetary constraints, it may be worth investing in a free or low-cost solution, even if it has some limitations. 
  • PayPal support. While Paypal doesn’t easily integrate into more modern applications, many users still prefer to have the option to pay securely through it rather than use a credit card or other payment method. 

Things to Consider  

  • Additional online costs. BiddingOwl takes 5% of the winning bids from online auctions. For small auctions, this may be more cost-effective than a premium plan with another provider, but this fee does not scale well. For example, an online or mobile auction that raises $50,000 will pay BiddingOwl $2,500 for a single auction, far more than most premium services would charge for a year subscription. 
  • Limited support. BiddingOwl provides phone and email support but is unclear about its onsite support options, which may be frustrating for organizations that need more hands-on assistance. 
  • Non-PCI compliant security. While BiddingOwl does support Paypal, third-party risk assessors indicate that they also use non-PCI compliant security protocols that may put bidders’ data at risk. 

Charity Auctions Today is one of the easiest to use silent auction software solutions available.

Charity Auctions Today - Easiest to Use Silent Auction Software

Overview

Charity Auctions Today prides itself on being one of the fastest, easiest to use silent auctions software solutions available. Primarily, they highlight users’ ability to build an entire auction website in five minutes, which can save time and administrative work. However, auctions with many items will still likely need longer than five minutes to complete their website.

What We Like

  • Transparent pricing. Charity Auctions Today publishes their pricing packages on their website and also offers custom plans, allowing organizations to find a price point that’s right for them. 
  • Easy website building. Charity Auctions Today has a fast three-step process for building websites. Users first answer questions about their event, then add items in bulk, and finally share their URL to begin marketing their auction. 
  • Support for both silent and live auctions. So far, this guide has primarily assessed online auction software support. However, solutions like Charity Auctions Today that also allows organizations to run live auctions provide additional flexibility. 

Things to Consider  

  • Percentage fee. Similar to BiddingOwl, Charity Auctions Today charges a percentage fee based on your plan. For larger auctions, these costs can quickly add up and far exceed the price of software solutions with a flat fee. 
  • Post-auction complications. Reviews for Charity Auctions Today have pointed to issues with closing and processing invoices, which can make the post-even process needlessly complicated and drawn out.
  • Lack of reporting features. Reviews have additionally addressed Charity Auctions Today’s lacking reporting capabilities. Of course, reporting includes many features, and while organizations looking for more robust reporting options may be disappointing others will likely be satisfied with Charity Auctions Today’s more basic reporting. 

Accelevents is the best silent auction software and event management tool.

Accelevents - Best Silent Auction Software and Event Management Tool

Overview

Accelevents focuses on virtual and hybrid events in general, while also offering silent auction software, though they have pivoted away from it in recent years. Specifically, their event software is designed for large-scale events with presenters, breakout rooms, live streaming, and more with unlimited guests. While hosting an event, users can ask presenters questions, download resources, and chat with one another. 

What We Like

  • Ability to handle large virtual events. While many of the providers on this list specialize in assisting small organizations, Accelevents is built for large online gatherings. 
  • Interactive main stage program. Guests attending an event hosted with Accelevents can ask speakers questions and engage in smaller group chats in breakout rooms.
  • Integratable ticketing solution and payment processor. Accelevents provides comprehensive event management tools, including ticketing and payment processing, making check-in and check-out easy.

Things to Consider  

  • Focus on general events, not just auctions. As mentioned earlier, Accelevents has pivoted away from auctions and fundraising tools and now focuses primarily on hosting virtual and hybrid events. While this solution can still be used to support an online auction, you may need to purchase additional, auction-specific software for core features such as bidding and item catalog creation. 
  • Charge per attendee. Accelevents pricing model is based on the number of guests who attend your event, not the number who only register. Keep this in mind as you calculate software costs. 

32auctions is the best low-cost silent auction software.

32auctions - Low-Cost Silent Auction Software

Overview

32auctions’ online silent auction software aims to help nonprofits host auctions that are fun, easy, and stress-free. Their brand identity is bright and colorful, with simplistic graphics, a heart in their logo, and a company history that focuses on their investment in children's causes. 

For organizations looking for the greatest return possible on silent auction software, 32auctions’ standout feature is its low price. However, this low price tag warrants a closer look to check for hidden fees and limited features. 

What We Like

  • Price. At face value, all of 32auctions’ basic features are free. A few necessary features, such as the ability to remove ads, cost extra, but even then, the total package price for all add-ons comes to only $340. 
  • Mobile-friendly. 32auctions lacks a native mobile app, but they can still support mobile auctions and bidding. Each of their auctions’ websites is automatically optimized for mobile use. 
  • Custom website links. Among their branding options, 32auctions allows organizations to create custom links to their auction’s website. This allows you to direct guests straight to your page and create a fully branded experience. 

Things to Consider  

  • Hidden fees. Unfortunately, 32auctions’ software is not completely free, even without add-ons. 32auctions charges a hidden transaction fee of 2.9% + $0.40 per transaction in addition to your payment processor’s rates. For many organizations, these fees will total around 5.8% and $0.80 per transaction. They also lack an option to prompt bidders to cover these fees, meaning your organization is expected to pay them. 
  • Ads. 32auctions free base price will display ads on your auction’s website, which can clutter your pages and make your organization seem unprofessional. While some of their add-ons are optional, this one is a necessity, adding an extra $30 to the base price. 
  • Email alerts instead of push notifications. Push notifications allow you to alert bidders when they have been outbid as quickly as possible, promoting bidding wars and driving more revenue. 32auctions only has email alerts, requiring bidders to keep their emails open at all times to see if they have been outbid. 

Greater Giving is the best "classic" silent auction software.

Greater Giving - The “Classic” Silent Auction Software System

Overview

Greater Giving, originally known as AuctionPay, is an online silent auction software platform that consists of event registration, auction management, mobile bidding, and a payment processor. Notably, Greater Giving is owned by Global Payments, who are the creators of the payment processor Greater Giving uses. This connection and Greater Giving’s origins as AuctionPay, a Windows Application, are present-day Greater Giving’s biggest strengths and weaknesses. 

What We Like

  • Longevity. Greater Giving has been around in its current form for over ten years. This means their silent auction software’s management features have been developed and refined for years with the assistance of extensive user feedback. 
  • Connection to a payment processor. Global Payments, Greater Giving’s owner, is well established in the payment processing industry, having powered a wide range of charity events over the years. This makes them both knowledgeable about their field and reputable as a company. 

Things to Consider 

  • Integration with Global Payments. As mentioned, the connection to Global Payments is both a strength and a weakness. Organizations interested in Greater Giving will need to review these unique payment processors’ rates and transaction fees to understand their new software’s total costs. 
  • Dated interface. While Greater Giving has evolved over the years, its origins as a windows application have caused some aspects of its interface to feel outdated on modern web browsers. 
  • Outsourced mobile bidding. Greater Giving has only recently launched an in-house mobile bidding feature, previously outsourcing to third-party providers. This means their mobile bidding tools are relatively new and developed separately from the rest of their software. 

Wrap Up

Online silent auction software allows your organization to continue fundraising all throughout the year in spite of challenges that prevent your guests from gathering physically. However, silent auction software is an investment, and you’ll need to research your options carefully before settling on any one provider. 

Start your search by assessing your organization’s event needs and fundraising capacity. Establish a budget, and make a list of core features your auctions need. Then, start researching your options and see how they compare to the requirements you’ve already noted. From there, you can begin weighing your options against one another, start requesting demos and get closer to making a purchase. 

Once you’ve selected your silent auction software, you still have an auction you’ll need to run. To help prepare for your upcoming auction, here are three sources that dive into different aspects of effective event planning:

Explore Handbid's powerful auction software by requesting a demo!

 

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