The Project

Bring a modern approach that works for everyone to silent auctions.


Our owner, Grant, sits on the advisory board for Best Buddies Central Florida and while discussing their annual Bet on Friendships Casino Night event the conversation turned to the silent auction. The challenge was with everyone participating at the gaming tables, they couldn’t keep up with the paper-based silent auction.

Naturally the conversation shifted to silent auction apps available, but cost and user-friendliness were a concern.

  • Not everyone wants to install an app.
  • Not everyone has a smartphone capable of running an app.
  • Even if they did, wi-fi wasn’t a guarantee at the venue.
  • For that matter, mobile data service wasn’t a guarantee.

The answer was SMS.

What We Did

We created an SMS based silent auction system so anyone with any kind of cell phone could use it and combined it with a single page web application so users with smartphones could see who was winning.

That same application was displayed on a large screen so users without smartphones could have the same experience.

SMS Based Registration

To register users simply sent “Register” to the event phone number. From there they were asked for their name and given a bidder number.

SMS Based Bidding

To bid users sent the item number to the event phone number. Then they were asked for the bid amount and an optional max bid amount just like a certain popular online auction site.

Automated Bidding

If a user offered a max bid, the app automatically bids on their behalf as new bids come in.

Outbid Notifications

If a user was outbid they received a text message informing them followed up by the opportunity to immediately rebid on the item.

Winner Notifications

At auction close winners were immediately notified that they won and asked to come checkout.

Auction Status and Winner Report

Staff at the auction were emailed on a regular period the current status of the silent auction as well as a winner report listing all winners and the amount due at auction close.


Users could view the entire auction on a large leaderboard displayed on a TV (powered by laptop w/ a web browser). This same leaderboard was available on smartphones via a web link texted during registration.

The Results

In short Best Buddies killed their silent auction goal by 20%! Keep in mind that this included a pretty sizable goal increase over the previous year.

Concerned people wouldn’t want to use the app, they had staff prepared with the traditional bid sheet process but by the end of the night only ONE person needed it. This was attributed to the entire auction being driven by SMS not necessarily an “app”.

Best Buddies Live Board
Mobile View Auction Buddy Bids
Mobile Auction Buddy Board

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