The Best Online Auction Sites for Nonprofits

There is no shortage of online auction software and mobile bidding options for nonprofit fundraisers.

But, who are you going to trust with your school, charity, church or club’s silent auction?

In this post, we’ll break down how to choose an online auction site for your nonprofit and summarize the solutions from major auction software companies.

How to Choose Online Auction Software

The reality is that there are likely multiple options that will perform well for your online auction.

Your most important task when choosing auction software is to rule out any auction software that has a “dealbreakers.” Below are some questions to get you started.

Need Simple auction software?

TravelPledge Auctions is the perfect software for your online fundraising auction or golf event. Best of all, it's free!

Does it have the features you need?

Different events have different needs.

Perhaps you’re running a basic online auction and need a simple solution. Or perhaps you have an in-person gala with a silent auction and live auction and need lots of features.

Consider which of the below features you need for your event (in addition to bidding and payment functionality) and rule out any solutions that don’t have what you need:

  • Access to auction items
  • Event ticket sales
  • Live Streaming
  • In-person event management
  • Raffles

Is it easy for organizers and bidders?

Often, a tradeoff for more features is complexity. Not only is the additional configuration time consuming, it can result in mistakes, like a bidding closing at the wrong time.

Evaluate your organization’s technical expertise and bandwidth to determine if a feature rich but complex auction software is right for your event.

Note that many auction software companies offer an event consultant to help get your auction set up for an additional charge.

Additionally, view a demo of the software from a bidder’s perspective to verify registration is straightforward and there is no app to download.

Is the pricing right for your auction?

Pricing structures differ among auction software providers. Most providers charge a combination of the following:

  • Base software license fee (per event or per year)
  • Add-on charge for additional features, like video streaming
  • Payment processing fee (% of funds processed)
  • Service fee for dedicated event consultant
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Pro Tip: Some auction software providers ask winning bidders to leave an optional tip for the software provider at checkout, but the software is otherwise free to your nonprofit. The “tip” model is great for your bottom line!

Auctions that expect to raise over $100,000 in winning bids will likely prefer a pricing structure with more fixed costs, like a base license fee, but lower or nonexistent payment processing fees.

By contrast, smaller auctions will likely prefer a percentage model without upfront costs.

Best Online Auction Sites (for you)

By now, you’ve hopefully realized that the best site for you will depend on your event’s needs.

Reference the table to build your shortlist of online auction solutions.

SoftwarePricingAuction ItemsTicketingLive StreamingPerfect for
travelpledgeFree (optional “tip” model)Nearly $100M in fun experiencesNoNofirst place medal
Simple Online Auctions
ClickBid logo$795/yr event license, add-ons for purchaseIntegrates w/ TravelPledgeYesYesfirst place medal
Live Galas
event.gives logo3% transaction fee up to $3,000Integrates w/ TravelPledgeYesYesfirst place medal
Virtual Galas
maestrosoft logoNot publishedIntegrates w/ TravelPledgeYesYesfirst place medal
Golf Events
benefit events logo8% transaction fee up to $25k in winning bids, 5% fee above thatIntegrates w/ TravelPledgeYesNofirst place medal
Customer Service
greater giving logoNot publishedConsignment packagesYesYesfirst place medal
Event Management
trellis logo$0/mo, $99/mo or $299/mo, 3.5% transaction fee on free planNoYesYesfirst place medal
Raffles
accelevents logo$249/event + $1/participant, 1% transaction fee on ticketsNoYesYesfirst place medal
Ticketing
schoolauction.net logo$1,000/event, $1,500/yr or $2,500/yrNoYesYes
auctria logo$0, $300/yr or $600/yr, 1% transaction fee on free plan.NoYesNo
biddingforgood logo$600/yrNoYesNo
givesmart logoNot publishedNoYesYes
onecause logoNot publishedConsignment packagesYesYes
handbid logo$696/yr, $1,296/yr, $1896/yr or $2,496/yr, add-ons for purchaseNoYesYes
bidding owl logo5% transaction feeNoNoNo
galabid logoFree (optional “tip” model)Consignment packagesYesYes
readysetauction logo$1,099/yr, $1,499/yr or $1,999/yrConsignment packagesYesNo
qtego logoNot publishedNoYesYes
givergy logoNot publishedConsignment packagesYesYes
charity auctions today logoPlans at $0/event & $297 to $997/event, 5% transaction fee on free planNoYesNo
32 auctions logo$0/event, $80/event, $160/event or $280/event, 2.9% + $0.40/transaction feeNoNoNo
*In almost all cases, additional fees from the payment processor, such as Stripe or PayPal, apply. Fees are typically between 2.5% and 3.5%. The amount differs based on your auction software’s agreement with the processor and if your auction software marks up the fee.
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Al McDonald is the Chief Product Officer for TravelPledge and author of the e-book “The Definitive Guide to Silent Auction Fundraisers.” Al has helped thousands of nonprofits exceed their auction goals through auction item procurement and advice. Al understands that successful auctions are hard work and is committed to delivering practical advice that will move the needle for you today.