Mobile Bidding Technology: App-based vs Web-based Silent Auctions


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Silent auctions are a staple fundraising event in the nonprofit industry and they often bring in big fundraising dollars. They offer direct engagement with supporters and incentivize guests to donate. However, a glaring issue in the nonprofit space is the inefficient, frustrating, and stressful aspect of running an auction the traditional way. 

Paper bids are messy, disruptive, and hard to keep track of. Long check-in and checkout lines make guests unhappy. Manually entering bidding data is time consuming.

So why do nonprofits rely on such an outdated auction system? Mostly it’s the organization’s aversion to technology, not wanting to take time to learn new software, or the assumption that donors won’t want to use other bidding methods. A good bidder experience is the key to a successful silent auction, and bidding technology is the future!

Silent Auction Software

Silent auction software uses event management and bidding technology to eliminate the stress of traditional auctions. Organizations can simplify event setup and management; accept registrations; streamline check-in and checkout processes; and give bidders a way to view, bid, and purchase auction items—all online.

After the event, organizations can see their auction’s performance with detailed information about bids, including bidding history, all without entering any information manually! As the popularity and adoption of smartphones increased, auction platforms needed a solution that delivered the same functionality to mobile devices. Enter mobile bidding!

Silent auction software makes event management easier!

Mobile Bidding Software, Silent Auction Event Management

What is Mobile Bidding?

Mobile bidding is an interactive technology that enables silent auction guests to view and bid on items from their smartphones via a web browser (web-based) or a downloadable app (app-based). Mobile bidding technology is designed for mobile devices, making the auction experience more enjoyable for bidders from check-in to checkout.

Two mobile bidding technologies have emerged over the years: web-based and app-based. Both platforms offer a mobile-optimized solution that features similar front-end usability: online registration, streamlined check-in/checkout, convenient bidding, event purchases (raffle tickets, drinks, etc.), fund-a-need, and event reporting.

Mobile Bidding with App-based Auction Platform

Web-based Auctions

Web-based bidding combines online and mobile bidding technology to deliver auctions to desktop, tablet, and mobile devices through web browsers (think Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, etc.). Guests register online (through any device) and, once they check in at the event, receive a link to the auction. That link takes them to a page where they can view, bid, and purchase items.

App-based Auctions

App-based auction platforms optimize the mobile experience by running everything through a downloadable app. Guests register online and check in, check out, bid, purchase event items (raffle tickets, drink tickets, etc.) and fund-a-need items, and make a donation, all through the app! Event updates are sent directly to the user’s phone via push notifications which link directly to the auction item.

App-based platforms also have more bidding features such as swipe-to-bid, integrated QR item scanners (scan-to-bid), and outbid notifications sent directly to the guests’ phone via push notifications. These combined features create a fun and competitive bidding experience for guests!

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What’s the Best Silent Auction Software?

App-based or Web-Based Bidding

In the modern age where mobile devices dominate, app-based bidding provides a familiar user experience. Apps are native to mobile devices, meaning they are built to operate on and use certain phone features, like cameras and touch screen technology.

Web-based bidding comes through a browser, which means it can be used on a variety of devices, from smartphones and tablets to laptop and desktop computers. Web-based auctions are great for guests that are bidding from home, as they allow them to use their preferred device. 

Mobile Apps Provide a Consistent, Easily Recognizable User Experience

Apps load faster and more consistently across all mobile devices, which provides a better user experience for guests that download the app. Guests can enter the auction, view an item, and place a bid with minimal effort. That allows them to return to their conversation and the event much more quickly.

Not convinced? Here are some other reasons we think app-based auction software wins:

  • Apps work in tandem with a mobile device’s operating system to function, delivering the best performance every time. Notifications are delivered more quickly, too.
  • Apps store data locally for easier access. This reduces the total amount of data needed to be transferred over an internet connection. Less data transfer means your bidders won’t have to deal with slow-to-load web pages, lags, and other frustrating delays.
  • Apps are built using programming language designed for mobile devices. App developers can optimize speed without sacrificing functionality! Web-based options have to function on many different kinds of devices, which makes bugs and delays more likely
  • Apps are designed for a user’s specific device (Android, iOS, Windows) which delivers a consistent experience across all mobile devices.

Web-based is Optimal for Desktop Devices

Web-based bidding gives participants the flexibility to choose their bidding experience, because it works on devices ranging from smartphones to desktops. This feature has become especially important during the pandemic, as more and more events turned virtual and participants chose to bid from their desktops.

Even once the pandemic is over, virtual and hybrid fundraising events are likely here to stay. Your donors have grown accustomed to having a choice in how they accomplish everything from grocery shopping to donating, and that desire to participate how they choose isn’t going to go away just because vaccines roll out.

But while allowing your donors to customize their experience is one of the biggest benefits of web-based bidding, it’s far from the only benefit. Some additional benefits include:

  • Longer bidding windows allow you an opportunity to raise even more funds, because you’re not relying on your donors being available during any particular time frame. Using online auction software, you can leave your auction open for a week or more, and you can introduce bidding “power hours” that you promote on social media to keep enthusiasm up.
  • Adaptability has been the name of the game for the past year, and that’s not likely to change in 2021. Having web-based bidding readily available will allow your organization to pivot from in-person to entirely virtual events at the drop of a hat, and vice-versa.
  • User experience matters, having multiple options for your guests leads to an improved user experience, which can leader to increased donations. After all, happy donors tend to give more!

Apps are Native to Mobile Devices

Apps are built to be used on mobile devices, making the overall experience intuitive and easier to use. Mobile bidding apps tap into device features such as the camera, fingerprint technology, and phone gestures (i.e. swipe, tap, drag, pinch, etc.) to reduce the overall effort needed to participate an auction. These features are small enhancements that make a huge difference to guests because it makes the event feel more integrated and less frustrating!

Apps are a great option for silent auctions because:

  • Apps tap into device features to provide an integrated auction experience between online and offline event spaces.
  • User flow is more natural and familiar, making the user experience far superior on an app.

Auction Platforms Offer Engaging Bidding Tools

A fast, intuitive, and easy-to-use platform equals a more engaging auction. Why? Because guests enjoy using user-friendly technology! Auction platforms that are not user-friendly frustrate guests and discourage bidding. That’s why a lot of organizations are averse to technology—they’re afraid of frustrating their guests.

What if there was a platform that offers a superior bidder experience that will make guests want to engage and compete for items?

That’s why an auction platform that provides both app-based and web-based bidding is so great: participants will have a user-friendly, engaging, and competitive bidding experience based on their preference.

When you offer an app-based silent auction experience, you give your bidders:

  • A fast, intuitive, user-friendly platform that encourages bidding and increases competition and engagement.
  • An option that uses push notifications to instantly update guests that they’ve been outbid on an item. Push notifications are sent directly to the user’s phone with the mobile and have the highest engagement rate (compared to text and email notifications).

But My Guests Won’t Download an App!

It’s understandable to worry about your guests’ willingness to download an app. However, it’s important to remember that downloading and using apps is a very familiar process to the majority of Americans. These stats may put your mind more at ease!

  • 96% of Americans own a cell phone. 81% of those Americans use smartphones! Americans of all ages use smart phones—even a majority of your donors over the age of 65 have one!
    • 90% between the ages of 18-49
    • 79% between the ages of 50-64
    • 53% above 65 years old
  • 99% of smartphone owners have downloaded at least one app.
    • Research shows that there are between 60 and 90 apps installed on the average smartphone.
    • The average smartphone user spends 2 hours and 15 minutes each day using apps.

81% of your donors own a smartphone, are familiar with downloading and using apps, and will enjoy using an app designed to improve the auction experience.

For the 10-20% of guests that do not want to download an app, they will still be able to participate in your auction. Guests can register, check in, bid, make purchases, and checkout through a web browser or through an auction worker set up with a virtual terminal. But for the majority of your guests, a mobile bidding app or web-based bidding are better than the manual entry of paper bidding.

When Should You Use Web-based Auction Software?

For in-person events, bidders can still participate through a mobile device but they will lose out on the features we mentioned above.

Web-based bidding is also a great tool for virtual auctions, as many donors tend to hop on their laptops when bidding from home. Giving your donors options allows you to create an engaging user experience based on donor preference.

Why You Should Use Auction Software

1. Auction Software Improves Upon Traditional Auctions

Auction platforms provide a seamless, enjoyable, mobile experience for guests. Navigation is simple, the text is always legible, and images are properly sized.

Mobile bidding apps have full functionality on mobile devices, leveraging breakthrough technology to simplify auctions for guests. Guests will enjoy the ability to build item watch lists, see real-time updates on bids (no need to refresh a browser), and receive push notifications when outbid!

Even web-based bidding is easy to use for donors on the go, as long as your website is optimized for mobile (and any modern donation website should be!) Online auction software streamlines your events, while allowing your donors to choose the user experience that works best for them!

2. Bidding Is Fun and More Engaging with the right tools

App-based and web-based bidding options simplify the process by making it easy for guests to bid with just the swipe of a finger or the click of a mouse!

In the time it takes a paper bidder to find an auction table, write down a bid, and place it in the basket, the app and web user will have already placed their bid and continued their conversation.

Simpler bidding means bidding happens quickly, keeping guests engaged and competing for their favorite items!

3. Auction Software Makes Check-in and Checkout Easier for Everyone Involved

Auction software allows guests to register for the event through your auction website. Guests will be able to register individually or for a group as well as check in and checkout without waiting in long lines!  Since check-in/checkout is handled through the auction software, you will save time and raise more by eliminating manual data entry, long lines, and headaches for you, your staff, and your guests!

Silent Auction Software: Check-in and Check-out
Mobile Bidding Technology with an App-based Auction Platform

Qgiv’s App-based Auction Platform

Qgiv’s auction and event management platform is a convenient, user-focused tool designed to help you raise more money by giving your donors an amazing auction experience. We offer both an app-based and web-based bidding, so there’s something for everyone!


With Qgiv’s mobile bidding app, guests can:

  • Check in by presenting their bidding number or QR code on the mobile app
  • Learn how to use the app with an interactive tour
  • Search, bid, and purchase items with just a swipe of a finger
  • Bid in real time, build a watch list, and set a maximum bid
  • Receive important auction updates automatically on their phone via push notifications
  • Check out with the press of a button; no more frustrated donors waiting in long lines!
  • And much more!

With Qgiv’s web-based bidding app, guests can:

  • Engage in your auction based on their preference
  • Bid on items, purchase event items like raffle tickets, and make fund-a-need donations on their desktop or mobile device
  • View a running total and information about bid-on items in a convenient bidder dashboard
  • Bid in real time
  • Check out with the click of a button
  • And much more!


Organizations will enjoy:

  • A fully integrated event management system to streamline registrations with multi-guest ticketing
  • Virtual invitation system so registered guests can invite their friends
  • Easy item setup so they can create new items, add descriptions, and categorize them for easy browsing. You can even import all items from a spreadsheet!
  • Tracking bidder activity and funds raised in real time at your event
  • On- and offsite bids. Busy donors will love being able to bid on their favorite items in real time—even if they can’t attend the actual event.
  • Simple checkout that lets donors pay on the app so you can dedicate more staff to retrieving items and thanking donors
  • Time-saving features like automatically generated personalized bid numbers and unique QR codes that make it easy for your donors and staff to manage payments
  • And much more!


Planning your auction has never been easier with mobile and web-based bidding at your donors’ fingertips. Ready to plan your next auction? Sign up for our free auction planner, and then schedule your free demo to learn how our online auction software can work for you and your organization!

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