Jon Douglas is a restless entrepreneurial strategist. Within only a few years he has been able to assist in building iBid in order to establish it as a constant for fundraisers in Europe and North America. Organizing fundraisers is a tough business. Making sure that the whole bidding process during the fundraiser works smoothly is way too often a painful process – but not with iBid!
SponsorMyEvent: What’s the pain-point you are solving with iBid?
Jon Douglas: The pain points that iBid addresses is twofold – on one hand its ‘how can we raise more money’ and on the other it’s ‘how can we do this easily for both the event organisers and the event guests’.
How does it work?
iBid specialise in fundraising technology for silent auctions, live pledging and raffles at events and online. The easy to use technology is easy to set up, simple to use, and really plays on the competitive nature ingrained in each of us. This means that with the aid of live leaderboards and totalisers the charity raise on average 35% more than when using pen and paper to facilitate a similar kind of event.
Is iBid only applicable for bigger fundraisers or can also smaller events take advantage of it?
Absolutely! Although we support over 1,000 large events (350-900 guests) a year of which 90% are gala / seated dinners we have a range of products to suit all nature of events. Our mobile bidding technology has been developed most recently to allow smaller events and charities to benefit from the use of technology at a fraction of the price of our fully managed system. In fact, for the smallest of events, we have an online wizard through which the client can set up their own online auction in a matter of minutes.
How do you assist event-planners with the setup of iBid for their event?
The human element that goes hand in hand with the technology we supply cannot be over looked in its importance. As a result, each client has a dedicated Account Manager who is on hand to walk them through the set up process from start to finish. In the lead up to an event it can be an extremely stressful time so we are always on hand to make sure the iBid system does not add to their workload but is in fact something they can rest assured has been taken care of.
What are the biggest mistakes you have seen when organizing a fundraiser?
We like to think that we bring a consultative approach to everything we do so that mistakes made by the client in the run up to the event can be mitigated, that said the two recurring mistakes are as follows:
- Doing too much: time and time again charities try and use every mechanism possible to raise money during an event. This can include a silent auction, raffle, pledge moment, head and tails game, live auction etc. etc. Getting the balance right between an event that is fun, entertaining and has a fundraising element to it is the key in raising the most money rather than putting the guest off by overloading them with ways to give.
- Running order issues: ensuring enough time is built into the running order to allow for fundraising parts of the night is key. This is particularly important at the end of the evening when the countdown timer is shown on the leaderbaord screens and an announcement is made to drum up another peak in activity. Likewise factoring in 10 minutes after this closes in order to collect payment from guests before they all disappear to the dancefloor is vital.
- What are the highlights that you’ll remember throughout your entire career?
Each and every cause we support is equally important to us no matter its size. There is one thing that connects them all and that is that true happiness was once defined as “living for a cause greater than yourself”.
Therefore we take our hat off to all that we are lucky enough to call a client and have had the pleasure of meeting and working with. This has really been emphasised when seeing first-hand the difference the money raised through the iBid system (£22 million in 2014/5 Financial Year) makes to those that benefit from it and it is this that gives us at iBid such pride in what we do, day in day out, and are pleased to call a day job.