ProSpeak: The Advantages of Moving Silent Auctions Online
In addition, item-performance data is not tracked and kept. Many organizations put last year’s results in a shoebox or a summary of winning bids in a file. It is difficult to track bidding intensity by item, the number of losing bidders, total bidders, timing of bids, etc. However, this information is valuable in developing a strategy for next year's auction catalog.
Logistical issues inherent to the silent-auction model can be overwhelming.
"Try managing 15 silent-auction volunteers, lugging 150 items into a room, setting them up, taking unsold items back to the office late at night, and dealing with long checkout lines — it isn't easy," I was told by Judi Elkin, a seasoned fundraiser and former executive director of the New England chapter of the American Liver Foundation.
The Power of the Internet
In contrast, an online silent auction offers the following efficiencies:
- One-hundred percent of donors can bid from anywhere 24/7 (more bids equals more money).
- No fighting the crowd, and no awkward ending (more competition equals more money).
- Item donors obtain added and measureable marketing exposure in a competitive economy, giving them one more reason to donate (more items equal more money).
- Online sponsorships offer existing sponsors more marketing value, or an upgrade opportunity for more/better items (which equals more money).
- All bidding data are organized into reports, compared with other like organizations, and stored for next time.
- Constituents can e-mail the auction to friends and family, which expands the bidding pool.
- E-mail addresses of both winning and losing bidders can be stored for next year.
Online auctions successfully trigger competitive arousal in ways that silent auctions can't. E-mail bid alerts are an important lever. Deepak Malhotra, a professor of negotiation who studies the psychology of bidding behavior at the Harvard Business School, has noted, "The online environment has a number of attributes that can stimulate competitive arousal (e.g., instant bid alerts) that in-room silent auctions simply don't have."