Choosing the Right Online Auction Settings for Your Fundraiser

24 Apr 2020 By Roger Devine

“Are my online auction settings right?” Our support team sees variations of this question a lot. And we’re always glad to take a look at your site and tell you what we see. But when it comes to whether your settings are “right,” we usually have to say, “It depends.”

Every online auction is a little bit different (and some are a LOT different). What’s right for one organization may not suit yours at all. That’s why we’ve developed a number of different options for you to choose from when setting up your online auction.

The first thing to decide is when your items will be available for bidding. Then create bidding groups that reflect these times. You can open and close all of your items simultaneously (by creating a single bidding group), or establish different opening and closing times for specific sets of items (by creating multiple bidding groups). For instance, some organizations keep Sign Up parties open until right before their scheduled date, to make sure they can sell any remaining slots as long as possible.

And when your items do close for bidding, do you want them to be automatically placed in their winners’ carts? Or would you prefer to manually award them to their high bidders? For events with large catalogs, we definitely recommend the former, which means you’ll want to enable automatic close-out. You can see that setting at Admin > Site Settings > Online Auction/Mobile Bidding > Bidding Settings.

Next, decide how your supporters will bid on items. You have two options: Quick Bids and Max Bids. Quick Bids most closely replicate paper-style bidding. Bidders see what the current high bid is and, with a single click, they can choose one of the next three bid increments. Max Bids essentially allow for eBay-style bidding. A bidder can input the highest amount they are willing to pay, and the software will automatically re-bid for them up to that amount. If their max bid is outbid, they can input a new, higher max bid. You can select your bidding style at Admin > Site Settings > Online Auction/Mobile Bidding > Bidding Settings.

If you have items that traditionally generate a lot of bidding interest, or something new in your catalog that might catch fire, consider enabling Extended Bidding. Extended bidding allows you to capture last-minute high bids on competitive items. Items that receive bids right before closing time are automatically kept open for an additional number of minutes, specified by you.

Next, think about who you want to allow to bid on your items. Most organizations take a the-more-the-merrier approach to online bidding. As long as you make sure your Sign Up to Bid feature is turned on, anyone who visits your site can bid. This allows your supporters to reach out to friends and family and encourage them to help fund your cause.

But if you want to limit bidding to your known supporters, you can restrict bidding. Plus and Premium subscribers can restrict bidding to ticketed guests or invited supporters at Admin > Site Settings > Online Auction/Mobile Bidding > Bidding Settings. Standard subscribers can limit bidding to only those they invite by turning off their Sign Up to Bid feature at Admin > Site Settings > Online Auction/Mobile Bidding > Sign Up and Invitations.

Finally, be sure to review the screen messaging that will display to participants. Do you want the bid history to display for each item? If you’re offering signup parties, do you want to display the full names of people that sign up to attend? If your catalog contains items that your supporters can buy now, do you want them to pay immediately? Or can they wait until the auction closes to pay all at once? If you’re okay with people waiting until the end - you’ll want to turn off the Daily Payment Reminders until your event closes in Site Settings > Online Auction / Mobile Bidding > Payment Settings.

Thinking through each of the questions above will help you choose the “right” settings for your unique event. Regardless of which options you choose, remember: the easiest way to get your supporters bidding is to (say it with us now) send them an invitation to bid.