The Evolution of Auction Paddles and Bidding Electronically Using Bid Paddles

The Evolution of Auction Paddles and Bidding Electronically Using Bid Paddles

Today’s auction-paddles, often referred to as bid-paddles or bid cards, are an impressive evolution when it comes to holding and running auctions, particularly for nonprofit auction fundraising events. These new technologically advanced versions of the traditional paddles have streamlined the entire auction experience for both organizers and participants and have made everything from signing up for an auction to paying for your winning bids so much easier.

Traditionally, auctions have relied on physical paddles that a bidder would sign for with a number on it. They would then raise the paddle and the bids would need to be recorded by hand, including a tally of any multiple bids placed for each paddle. This could easily end up with mistakes and overlapping bids if the auctioneer and staff weren’t extremely diligent.

But now with these types of paddles, the entire auction process is automated leaving your staff the freedom to concentrate on making sure bidders and donors are happy and enjoying the event. And if you use a platform like Paybee, the cost for these types of auction-paddles is completely free!

Using out unique platform, you’re able to print out auction-paddles for each guest at sign in. Along with a unique number, each guest also gets a QR code that will tally all their winning bids in cart form using an app tethered to your site or platform, and offer multiple payment methods on the spot making it so much more convenient for you and your staff to hold auctions with thousands of items and bidders!

What are Auction Paddles?

Physical auction-paddles have been used for more than 100 years at places like Christie's and Sotheby's and can be seen even today in movies. They are basically wooden paddles that resemble ping pong paddles with a number printed on them. When a bidder want to bid on an item, they’ll raise the paddle and someone will record their bid and the item. When the auction is over, the bidder hands in their paddles and pays for their winning auctions.

And while the traditional auction house paddles haven’t changed much, also known as bid paddles or bid cards, organizations that use auctions as one of their funding sources have been improving on them using today’s technology making the old something very different and new.

Types of Bidding Paddles

Today’s bid paddles can made from pretty much any material that you want. Anything from wood to plastic can be used to give your paddles some substance in the user’s hand, and even custom painted artwork paddles in any color can be found on places like Etsy or Ebay.

There are even electronic versions that can send a laser reading to a computer to record bids so there’s practically no human involvement at all with the process. And then there are more simple paper paddles like the ones we offer our clients. You simply print out your paddles on standard 8.5x11 sheets of paper. Once printed you can stick them on anything to give them some support, or simply fold the paper in half and use it as is. Either way, they will help make your auctions more streamlined and convenient for all involved.

Key Components of Auction Paddles

There’s a lot you can do when working with printable custom bid paddles for you own organization’s fundraising events. You can add your organization’s name and logo to the sheets during production, terms and conditions of your auctions as well as any information regarding bid increments or other rules that need to be observed during your event. You can add pretty much any type of content you need.

But of course the most important information is the bidder’s numbers and some sort of scannable barcode or QR code that can automatically record and list all of the bid’s made and offer checkout options at the end of your auction. Just this cart ability can dramatically reduce the amount of time and work your staff would normally need to put in using traditional cards.

The Benefits of Using This Technology

There are a plethora of benefits for both your organization and your bidders when using the newer types of paddles for your events. From allowing your auction to grow in item size and command more bids and income, to transparent processes and real time tracking for all your attendees and items. The benefits far outweigh the use of traditional methods!

For Organizations

For your charity, electronic auction-paddles and cards simplify the entire bidding process, making it more accessible and less intimidating for your attendees. This can lead to more people getting involved as well as potentially driving up bid amounts. And the best part is bids are tracked in real time, providing immediate updates to both bidders and organizers which is great for those of you running silent or Chinese auctions. With real time bid data, everyone can increase their bids as they want leading to more donations for your charity.

And with all of this information stored in your database, you now have a detailed record of which bidders like what types of items, their frequency of bidding and what was left unsold. All of this data can lead to your improving on your auctions over time which again, means more money for your mission.

For Bidders

There are just as many benefits for bidders and organizations. Once your participants are assigned a paddle number, they’re able to see in real time all of their bids, which items they’ve won, and what other bidders are bidding against them. All of this leads to a transparency that can make your supporters more confident in participating in your events, and make it more likely they’ll attend your next ones as well.

Then there’s the easy checkout process at the end that benefits your attendees just as much as your organization. Once bidding is finished your attendees can use their apps to see what they’ve won and find easy checkout options for payment, all in one place instantly. No more waiting for hours for tallies and turning in your paddles.

And as an extra bonus, with printable sheets or cards your attendees can also save their cards as a memento of the occasion, further keeping your organization in mind and connected to a happy event experience.

Fundraising With Auction Paddles for Larger Contributions 

Incorporating these newer bidding paddles into different types of auction scenarios will allow your auctions to run more smoothly as well as giving your attendees a much more engaged experience. And although you may not need them for silent auctions, they can dramatically increase bidding when used for live or hybrid auctions and paddle raisers.

Many advanced nonprofit platforms offer auction software for their users that include both live event options as well as hybrid options that allow bidding online during a live event. The hybrid option on our platform allows you to live stream as well as host the live event all at the same time.

Live bidders are given paddles so they can bid on items and instantly see on their mobile phone apps what items they’ve won and what the current bid amount is for each item being auctioned off. While attendees that aren’t physically at the auction can bid electronically and still participate in the live event.

And all attendees whether physically present or virtual will be presented with a cart option on their apps that makes paying for all of their winning bids easily from the privacy of their devices. That means no waiting or hunting down each bidder after the event!

Paddle raisers are great ways to incorporate the newer technology into your fundraising events. You may be more familiar with the term fund-a-need auctions, and these terms are used interchangeably and mean exactly the same thing. They are auctions where your charity holds an event and directly asks the attendees to make a contribution. The auctioneer will call out amounts and when a participant raises their auction paddle, they are recorded as donating that amount of money to you cause.

This works really well as it’s public what each person is giving, and people like to feel they are giving a fair amount so this can be an advantageous way of grabbing some extra donations at any sort of event. And with these high tech paddles, everything is recorded and each donor simply goes to their carts at the end to instantly make their donation leaving you and your staff free to create stronger personal relationships with each donor.

The beauty of both of these scenarios is all of your attendees actions are recorded and all this data is keep in a database and can be used later to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your auctions and their processes. You’re also able to see how much each individual donor either bid or contributed to your organization to better understand your donors donating abilities.

Using this sort of data can be a very powerful way to better understand what sorts of items bring in the most donations, what items get the most bids and cause the most excitement, and what didn’t raise the sorts of bids you were hoping for and can be replaced at later auctions. In addition, you’ll also have a history of giving for all of your attendees that can be used to better understand your donors and their giving habits. Armed with this sort of data, each additional event should only be improved upon.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size should auction bid paddles be?

The size should be large enough to read and scan and our cards are printed on standard 8.5x11 sheets of paper. Sotheby’s paddles measure 11 x 8.69 inches and Christie’s are 12 x 7.2 inches across to give you a better idea of the acceptable sizes.

How many auction paddles do I need for an Event Party?

That completely depends on the number of attendees that will be participating at your event. The beauty of Paybee’s bid cards is that you can print them on demand as each donor registers for the event. For more information on how convenient our system is, you can go here.

Can auction paddles be reused?

Yes, they can be reused depending on their condition after the event. One way to keep your equipment in top shape is to use some sort of backing like a piece of plastic or cardboard to make the paddle more durable.

What is the average auction paddle price on your site?

If you’re using Paybee’s paddles, they’re free other than the cost to print them off. For other forms of the high tech gadgets, the price will depend on the vendor.

What is the best material for auction paddles?

The best materials would be either reusable plastic or wooden ones. Each of these materials are sturdy enough to take constant use without much wear and should last the lifetime of your organization. You can even use those cheap fans you find in a pack at dollar stores and just attach the cards to those.

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Nonprofit Fundraising
Bill Allen

Bill Allen is an expat that has been travelling the world for the past 25 years. He received his MA in writing in New York too long ago to remember, but has been writing on all sorts of subjects far varied publications ever since. When he isn't writing he enjoys meditating and working on his own website, UpscaleDrinks.com. Feel free to connect with him any time.