SVG File-02

What Is Pre-Bidding? (Benefits & How To Use It)

Author: Adie M.
Pre-bidding in an auction

Are you organizing an auction and just aren’t sure if you should include pre-bidding? We think pre-bidding is a fantastic fundraising technique to have in your back pocket. 

Below, we explain what is and why we think you should consider it. We also share tips to help you integrate it into your fundraising plans without a hitch.

What Is Pre-Bidding?

Pre-bidding, or pre-selling, is a process that allows auction participants to pre-screen auction items and bid beforehand. 

Usually included in silent auctions, this is a pre-auction that takes place online, using digital auction software. Generally, you can open up pre-bids three to five days before your event.

There are four main kinds of pre-selling that you can implement:

  • Pre-auction bidding: The highest amount offered during the pre-bidding process establishes the minimum bid at the actual auction.
  • Online only: You keep bidding for some items restricted to online pre-bids. This is a great option if you have leftover items that didn’t make the cut for the final event.
  • Proxy bidding: The pre-bidder stipulates their maximum bidding amount. In their absence at the actual event, the auction team can bid on their behalf.
  • Preview only: Guests can preview items but can’t place bids. You build anticipation and excitement and guests can come with their pockets prepared for the items they want.

The Benefits Of Using Pre-Bidding For Your Auction Event

If you’re wondering whether this auction approach could work for fundraising, the answer is yes. Pre-bidding has numerous benefits that can contribute to your event’s success, including:

Improving Engagement

There are many reasons why you could miss out on a possible bid or donation. Perhaps some supporters could not attend the auction in person. Or, if it isn’t a silent auction, some people may get shy or prefer anonymity. 

Pre-bidding and proxy bidding can enable people who may have missed out on bidding otherwise to engage in your event. 

Firing Up Guests

Guests get a chance to see what auction items you have to offer before the actual event takes place. If you’ve considered your donors and your regular supporters, these should be items that they would love. If they’re interested in your offering, they’ll get excited to attend. This can attract more attendees, boost last-minute ticket sales, and increase bids.

Identify Popular Auction Items

Your pre-bid numbers will tell you which items guests prefer before the event. These will be the things that will likely raise the most competition during the auction. 

Use this insight to better manage your event. Leave out some items that received little to no pregame interest. 

You can also use the numbers to determine the order of the auction, leaving the most aggressively sought-out auction items for last. This will encourage people to stick around until the end of the night.

Raise Bid Amounts

Lastly, pre-bidding is a great way to boost bid amounts. The highest bids during the pre-auction process become the opening bids at the event. This means you’ll already begin bidding at a high number. 

Virtual auction bidding from laptop

5 Tips To Integrate Pre-Bids Into Your Fundraising

If you’re sold on hosting a pre-auction option for guests, these are some of the key ways you can make it a hit:

Establish A Fundraising Website

It’s important for your fundraising event to have a go-to spot - somewhere guests can find information easily. The more information and access potential bidders have about your event, the more likely they are to get involved. 

This website can also serve as the home for your pre-bidding event. If bidders are already familiar with it beforehand, they can navigate it easily and find what they desire.

Utilize Mobile Auction Software

Mobile auction software works hand-in-hand with your online website. Comprehensive auction software will allow you to streamline tasks like ticketing, bidder registration, item management, and more. 

It can also gather pre-bid analytics and data insights on your items, enabling you to organize your event accordingly. In addition, it increases accessibility for bidders as they can engage on their mobile devices

Take It Bit By Bit

You don’t have to list all your items and event information on your website immediately. What’s important is to establish a central place with some details on your event and begin promoting it quickly. And most importantly, you want to share vital information like the dates and times for the pre-auction and the actual event.

With the basic and key information on the site, you can upload items as you source them. Sharing a new item to the auction site every other day keeps people interested in your website. They’ll want to see what else you have on auction right up to the pre-bid.

Share Information On Pre-Bidding

Not only do you want to focus your site on the auction and available items, but you also need to give people information on pre-bidding. Explain what it is, how it works, and how they can get involved. 

Also share the benefits of pre-bidding. It can give bidders an understanding of the demand for the item they want. The highest pre-bid amount also gives hopeful bidders a sense of how much they should be prepared to spend.

Promote On Social Media

Establish an active social media marketing plan for your pre-bidding efforts. This should include links to your fundraising site, regular auction package updates, ticketing information, and more. Once pre-bids open, you’ll also want to generate hype and excitement to participate by sharing bidding progress. 

Everybody loves a good bidding war so don’t leave out any details. You can also use countdown clocks and counters to announce the amount of time left for pre-bids and the number of bids so far.

Woman using laptop at desk


Pre-bidding is all about understanding your target audience. What items will they go crazy over? How can you coax their curiosity and excitement? Keep your guests at the top of your mind when designing your pre-auction process. It should be simple to follow and easy to access for them. Do this and you’ll reap the fantastic benefits of this fundraising strategy.

For assistance with setting up your pre-bidding system, contact us today