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Marketing How to Series: How Text Messages Can Maximize Bidding at a Virtual or in-person Event

We all love to text. Some of us even decide to text when a simple phone call would make the conversation much easier. But there’s a reason we all text. The text message is a simple way to communicate on your terms. You can take the time to think carefully about each response. There’s an ease to texting that is comforting in a way. For most of us, it’s become our top form of communication with friends, family, and even work at times. It’s a tool that we all lean on in our daily lives.

So why are we talking about some of the obvious reasons we all choose to text? Well, it’s a reminder that text messages are effective if used in the business setting. And no, we are not talking about those annoying spam texts that we all get. More specifically, in this blog entry, we will talk about using text messages to maximize your bidding efforts at your next fundraising event — whether virtual or in-person.

Why is Texting the Most Effective When it Comes to Creating urgency?

Imagine your in-person event pre-pandemic. How did you communicate with your bidders? Chances are you got their attention through announcements once they had arrived at the venue and your event had begun. The two key phrases above are “got their attention” and the “venue”.

Previously, guests came to you. They were more willing to give their attention to your messaging because they had come to your event with a purpose, to hear what you had to say. For virtual events to be successful, the biggest challenge to overcome is to get the attention of your donors while they are in their houses, in their everyday lives, and dealing with many distractions. Surely you cannot expect your donors to check their email consistently for auction closing announcements. Nor can you expect them to put themselves on a schedule to monitor how much time is remaining as they come home from work, cook dinner, and put the kids to bed. For this reason, text messaging is the most effective way to get these important announcements out to your donors and get their attention to tune in, bid, buy, or donate!

Create A Text Message Plan: If Build It, They Will Come…False!

Let’s talk about how to use texts in a way that will benefit your fundraising event. Unfortunately, pulling off a successful virtual event is not as easy as “if you build it, they will come.” You must go one step further and drive traffic to what you have built. Text messages are crucial to this step, so let’s get started. The first step, meet with your team and create a plan. Ensure everybody is on the same page with how your text messaging approach will work for the event. Next, map out a detailed plan for how and when you plan to use text messages to maximize bidding efforts. Here are some details to consider for your plan:

Create a text communication plan with registered bidders.

Pre-registering your bidders gives you access to their phone numbers for direct communication via text (this is included with AmFund’s Signature Virtual Platform). When you need people to take action in an auction, texting is the most effective form of communication. Email and social media messages do not get the kind of immediate attention that a text provides.

You could have a daily featured item that you announce via text at noon each day. For example, the text message might say: “Everyone who registers will be entered to win a $20 “XYZ” gift card every Friday at 1 pm.” For more help with the wording of your texts, we will provide you with some creative text examples a little later in the article.

Giveaways always work! Who doesn’t love the chance at winning a giveaway? Drive new users to register by having a giveaway every day or every couple of days announced via text (and social media). We recommend using Wheel of Names to help you randomly select a winner.

Host a virtual treasure hunt to build excitement. First, place a little icon (for example, a shamrock for a St. Patrick’s themed event) on one of your auction item photos (or a hidden keyword that doesn’t belong in one of the descriptions on your mobile bidding site). Next, your registrants will be given a clue via text several hours before you announce the clue on social media. The first person to type the keyword or let you know where the icon is located receives a small prize. The idea here is to incentivize registration so your registrants understand they can utilize texting as a faster way to obtain their clues vs. social media.

Text Message Examples To Get You Started

When sending out text alerts to your registrants, the challenge is to keep your texts under 140 characters and always link to the auction or auction item. If you go over 140 characters, the message becomes too wordy (which means most people won’t read it). So keep it short, simple, fun, creative, and most importantly — informative.

Here are some text examples and our recommended schedule to give you a spark of inspiration:

Sample Text Messages: >140 Characters, ten messages.

One week out: Our Auction is open for bidding! Win an amazing trip for 2 with 3 full years to travel! Bid on your next trip now!

Six days out: Amalfi Coast? Beaches of Costa Rica? Yes, please! Go to to make your bids! Your next getaway is only one bid away!

Five days out: Soul-quenching serenity in beautiful Sedona? This spa getaway is just what the doctor ordered! Bidding is open now!

Four days out: Did you know you could support us by kissing the Blarney Stone? Click here to bid on a trip to the Castles of Ireland!

72 hrs Support us, adventure seekers! Up for bidding is your trip to Iceland!

48 hrs Want to visit Greece? Now you can! Bid on the Greece trip for two! Travel for our cause and help Riverstone!

24 Hours before Event:

Only 24 hours left to bid! Don’t wait too long! Your support means the world to us! Thank you from Riverstone!

-------EVENT DAY-------

60 Minutes Before the Close of Event:

Thank you for supporting us! 60-minutes remaining in our auction, and we need your help to meet our goal!

25 Minutes from Close:

AUCTION CLOSING: Only 25-minutes to make your final bids! Bid, Buy & Donate Now at

10 Minutes from Close:

Last Call! The bidding closes in 10 minutes! Bid, Buy & Donate Now at

These examples are each designed for different periods of your auction. Some can be used before, during, or at the close of the auction. Regardless, these creative little texts can be designed for any moment to match up with the specifications of your event. Once you design and implement your text message plan for your next event, your nonprofit will be in a much better position to maximize the bidding at your next fundraising event.

If you need additional ideas on creating a sense of urgency to take action and communicate with your donors before your next event, contact the American Fundraising Foundation. Our team of experienced fundraising experts will do everything possible to make sure your next event is a success. As always, thanks for reading, and stay safe!


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