Boost Engagement and Revenue for Your Auction with Pre-Bidding

We can’t stress enough how important pre-bidding is to the success of your benefit auction. In this post, we cover the basics of pre-bidding and why it’s good.

What is pre-bidding?

Pre-bidding allows guests, or those not able to attend, to preview and bid on key auction items. Pre-bidding primarily takes place online, using auction software.

There are four primary types of pre-bidding, which you can mix and match across your items for auction.

TypeDescriptionBest for
View-onlyAll visitors to preview packages but not place bids.One-of-a-kind items with broad appeal, such as unique artwork or an item that will solicit an emotional response.
Pre-Bidding for Event AuctionUse the highest pre-bid to set the starting bid at the auction.Items that lack broad appeal, such as a golf package.
Absentee BiddingLet the highest pre-bidder also specify a maximum bid. At the event, the auction committee bids on their behalf.Items that attract strong interest outside your donor base, such as sports memorabilia.
Online-onlyReserve certain items to only be available online.Duplicate or overflow items that didn't make it to your main event. Also include date-sensitive items where bidders will want to reference their calendars.

Why is pre-bidding good?

There are numerous ways pre-bidding helps you raise more money.

Build excitement for your auction

Pre-bidding gives attendees a chance to preview items in your auction. Assuming you’ve procured attractive items, pre-bidding can drive ticket sales and prime attendees to bid higher.

Expand your pool of bidders

With online pre-bidding, you’ll engage supporters who can’t attend your event. These supporters may have a scheduling conflict or live across the country. You’ll also solicit bids from shy donors who prefer to remain anonymous. Lastly, you’ll give deliberate bidders time to consider their purchase.

Raise the bidding at your event

This one is obvious. The top pre-bid serves as the opening bid at your event so you’ll be starting at a higher number. If you allow absentee bidding, you may earn yourself a rival bidder for those in attendance. Another reason it raises bids is because people like to bid on items other people have bid on. It makes them feel confident they are purchasing a desirable item.

Sell more sponsorships

Engaging donors before your event gives you the opportunity to sell sponsorships. A sponsor underwrites the cost of any item included in your auction so you keep 100% of the winning bid. Obtaining sponsors online is easy for TravelPledge items.

Free up spots for additional items

If you set a “Buy It Now” price on items for pre-bidding, you may sell items you would otherwise have put in your silent auction. Now, you have more table space to add an alternative item.

Capitalize on online shopping behavior

The data are mixed about whether people spend more online or in person. But, it’s safe to say that a significant subset of the population are more loose with their purse strings when they are in front of a screen.

Alex McDonald is the Director of Customer Experience for TravelPledge. He is passionate about helping nonprofits exceed their auction goals.

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