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How to Run a Successful Virtual Silent Auction



Maybe you’ve been to silent auctions of days past?

Inside a school auditorium, church meeting hall, community center, or fancy hotel ballroom, you walked along tables of items up for auction. You signed your name and bid amount on a paper bidding sheet and for a few hours, you returned back like a crazed Black Friday shopper to monitor the sheet and increase your bids.

Not anymore.

In a COVID-19 world with limitations on group gatherings, silent auctions can only continue through technology. What’s the technology that’s always available and in everyone’s hand? Their cellphone.

So how can you facilitate a virtual silent auction using mobile technology?

Here’s a handy checklist to follow:

Weeks prior to the event:

  • Display the items to be auctioned on your website, social media, or use Engage by Cell’s mobile website platform. Include a photo, short description, and minimum bid amount.

  • Ask participants to opt-in to the silent auction via text message, or upload an excel file of participants into the Engage by Cell administrative platform. Participants do not have to register prior to the event, but it helps with text message reminders.

  • Assign a keyword to each item that you are auctioning. Participants will use this keyword to bid via text. For example, if you are auctioning a wine basket, you may assign that item the keyword WINE.

The Day of the Event:
Send a text message reminder to all registered participants. Include a link to your website, social media page, or mobile website. Include silent auction opening and closing times as well as instructions on how to bid via text message.

Starting the Virtual Silent Auction
Send a text message that bidding has begun. How does it work? When someone wants to place a bid, they create a text message and include the primary keyword, the item’s identifying secondary keyword, and bid amount. This info is sent via text to a short code.

Here’s an example: If your organization is called ABC Nonprofit, you could select your primary keyword to be ABC. If one of your items is a wine basket and a participant wants to bid $100, they will text the phrase ABC WINE 100 to the short code 56512. Simple as that.

Participants will receive automatic text messages as they bid and when they have been out-bid by another participant.

During the Event
Make it fun! Show the bids on a screencast display on your website or Engage by Cell’s mobile website platform. As bids rise in real time, participants can engage in friendly competition as they outbid other participants.

Ending the Virtual Silent Auction
Send a text message that bidding has ended. Highest bidders will receive automated text message notifications that they have won an item. Include a link with information on how to claim their item.

Days After the Event
Send a text message to all participants thanking them for their support. Include a link to your website or social media where you share how much money was raised and how the funds will be used.

Are you ready to have a virtual silent auction? Let’s get started! Contact an Engage by Cell mobile solutions expert today for a free demo.

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How to Run a Successful Virtual Silent Auction

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