All Posts

See the latest news about our upcoming events, fundraising tips and partners.

U.S. mobile bidding leader Gesture adds operations, marketing experts to team

Chicago, Ill. – January 24, 2014 –Mobile bidding technology leader, Gesture, today announced two appointments: Steve Greanias, formerly vice president of program development for GoHealth, as vice president of operations; and content marketing expert Monika Rydzewski as marketing communications manager.

Gesture serves more than 700 charity partners in more than 120 North American cities. We have helped these great organizations raise $60 million during the three years since launching. By adding Steve’s and Monika’s expertise to our team, we plan to continue revolutionizing the mobile bidding experience,” noted Jim Alvarez, Gesture president and co-founder.

Gesture is the first mobile bidding technology company to allow patrons to bid with their smartphones. It also is first to offer a flat-fee business model so that charity leaders could put the most of every dollar raised into operating budgets to serve community needs.

Steve Greanias, now vice president of operations for Gesture, is a customer operations executive responsible for post-sale client interactions, including implementation, support and retention. GoHealth Insurance grew from 70 employees to more than 1,000 when he worked there from 1997-2013. While on the executive team, the company experienced 400% growth and transformed itself from servicing health insurance agents and agencies’ technology and marketing needs to being a full service distribution partner to the health insurance industry. Prior to GoHealth, Greanias was with Wilson Dow Group, a corporate communication strategies & event productions company where he was director of finance and human resources. Greanias graduated from Indiana University in May 2000 with a degree in finance.

As marketing communications manager, Monika Rydz is the founder of Connect.Inspire.Grow, a networking organization of influential individuals who connect, get inspired and help one another grow. She is also the co-founder of a mobile app called “Show and Tell” that allows people to brand their photos and videos from the palm of their hand. The Chicago Tribune referred to her as an “all-around video marketing expert” and ChicagoNow featured her as one of the top 12 people to watch in the Windy City. Rydzewski’s 10-year experience includes social media growth, strategic development and delivery of video marketing campaigns and communications strategies; corporate sales and partner relationships and event planning-organizing-sponsorships for LA Tan Corporate and Trading Advantage. Rydzewski co-hosted for the FOX Chicago “Upscale TV” and hosts her online show called “Connect.Inspire.GrowTV” that features inspiring people. Her clients are regular contributors for CNBC, FOX Business News and Bloomberg Television. She attended Columbia College.

About Gesture
Based in Chicago, Gesture was founded in 2011 to help non-profits improve fundraising efforts by harnessing the power of technology. The company’s technology platform is responsible for helping to raise over $60 million at hundreds of events annually for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross, Make a Wish, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs, universities such as Notre Dame, Purdue and DePaul, and Chicago-area hospitals including Rush Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Wheaton Franciscan.

View Post

5 Ways to Have a Successful Silent Auction

abc_checkoutSilent auctions are one of the most popular ways to raise money for non-profit groups and engage prospective donors at fundraising events. This article will provide you with helpful ways to ensure that your silent auction is a success.

Choose a prominent location for your silent auction. It is very important that a silent auction is not invisible and silent. You need to choose the perfect setup in order for people to view all your items as well as place bids in a convenient and easy way. You need to have enough space in order to accommodate all people who are willing to bid for your items that you want to offer for the fundraising program.

Match the items with the attendees. Local businesses are great potential donors for auction items. In order for you to attract a lot of bids, consider a variety of factors such as who are those people that will come to your event, what are the particular services and items that they need and want and how much money they are willing to spend. For example, during Valentine’s Day, you need to put items and services that suit both men and women such as flowers, restaurants and gifts. These are items that most people are looking for. It is very significant that you match the event with the items that you want to bid in order to attain success in your silent auction activity.

Create a time limit. It is proven that in order to create a sense of urgency, run your silent auction for a limited time. We suggest opening weeks prior to the event. People can become familiar and engaged well before the event even begins. Also, because people use their own mobile decides, they don’t physically be there to participate. The potential for more time and additional bidders significantly impacts the amounts our charity partners are raising”

Know how to handle your unsold items. It takes some time to spur interest in a silent auction especially when it comes to the starting bid. It is important that you announce and project your auction items on screen. If there is no bid, you can return the auction item to your merchandiser and decide to auction it again on another event. Try to work with consignment companies that allow you to only pay for items after they’ve been successfully auctioned.

Mobile Bidding. One of the most convenient ways for guests to participate in a silent auction is to bid by phone. No more hanging out by the auction table all night, or filling out bid sheets. Not only is mobile bidding more convenient for guests, but realtime alerts help drive up the revenue generated. It can make a big difference in the amount of funds raised for your non-profit organization. Electronic bidding also streamlines the checkout process and getting fundraising reports when the event is over. Learn more about mobile bidding

Watch some of the Live Auction Ideas from our expert auctioneer Renee Jones

View Post


LA Kings Team Up with Gesture

On Saturday, February 1, the Los Angeles Kings Hockey Club will host Tip-A-King at the LA Live Event Deck, a premier event venue located in Downtown Los Angeles. Los Angeles Kings players, coaches and broadcasters will be on hand to receive tips for photographs and autographs from their fans in the carnival style event. Tip-A-King has become the signature fundraising event for the Kings Care Foundation, the team’s award-winning non-profit foundation that provides educational and recreational opportunities for children throughout Greater Los Angeles.

Gesture is thrilled to be picked to provide its mobile bidding services to this great event. The LA Kings Tip-A-King 2014 Auction is live, with great items like game-worn Los Angeles Kings jerseys, signed hockey gear and collectibles (Wayne Gretzky Stick!), great sporting and entertainment tickets and VIP packages, and more! Go to to bid.

All proceeds from the event will benefit the Kings Care Foundation, the team’s award-winning charity dedicated to providing educational and recreational opportunities for youth of the Greater Los Angeles area. Since its inception in 1996 the Kings Care Foundation has donated nearly $6 million in monetary and in-kind support to the local community. In August 2009, the Kings Care Foundation proudly announced a $500,000 commitment to the Blood Donor Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The largest donation ever made by the Foundation will serve to increase the much needed collection of life-saving blood for the most seriously ill and injured children at CHLA through the LA Kings Bloodmobile. Your generous support will help continue to fund this vital initiative.

View Post


Four Reasons Mobile Bidding Works

Gesture Silent Auction Specialistby Monika Rydzewski, Marketing Communications Manager at Gesture

Mobile bidding involves using a smartphone, computer, or tablet to bid in an auction, rather than bidding using hand gestures or paper bidding sheets. A lot of organizations are turning to mobile bidding because it is easier to manage, easier to track, provides more flexibility, and makes more money.

Mobile Bidding Is Easy

With mobile bidding, rather than having to make hand gestures or write on a bidding sheet to bid, attendees can simply bid with a mobile device, inputting some numbers and clicking to submit when they want to make a bid. Mobile bidding is especially easy on smartphones and tablets, where you can enter information with some taps and swipes of your finger, which at this point has become second nature to modern users of mobile devices.

Easy to Track and Less Risk of Error
With traditional bidding, everyone has to sit and pay attention to bids, especially when they want to secure the highest bid. With mobile bidding at an event, people can socialize, stand in line to get food, or enjoy drinks at the bar, and still track bids because they get automatic notifications on their device if they have been outbid. Mobile bidding reduces the margin of error, because a click to bid cannot be mistaken, unlike accidental hand gestures or incorrect bid increments on paper. Mobile bidding is calculated automatically, making tracking easier for staff and eliminating the need for calculators to add up figures on bid sheets.

More Bidding Time Before, During and After an Auction
Because mobile bidding allows registration before the event, bidders don’t have to wait in line to register, so they have more time to bid. This flexibility keeps things moving, making it a smoother process for everyone. Attendees will be more engaged in bidding because they can conveniently bid with a mobile device while doing other things at the event.

Increased Revenue
Because it’s easier to bid with mobile bidding, more bids will be made throughout the auction and more money will be made from each auction item. The money made is also more secure with mobile bidding, because attendees enter their form of payment before the auction, which means payment occurs automatically, so a bidder is less likely to change their mind on a bid and neglect to pay. Mobile bidding is the easier, more efficient and profitable way to bid today.

View Post

Gesture Featured In Chicago Tribune’s Blue Sky Innovation

Gesture Featured in Blue Sky from Chicago TribuneOur partnership with the Chicago Blackhawks and Chicago Fire was featured in Blue Sky, the Chicago Tribune’s new gathering place for news, analysis and events related to innovation and entrepreneurship.

“It began with frustration. Jim Alvarez — serial entrepreneur, partner in the L.A. Tan salon franchises, owner of a Valparaiso, Ind., haunted house — couldn’t fathom why staging a silent auction took so much work.”

Read the full article in Blue Sky

View Post


The May Report Spotlights Mobile Bidding Company Gesture

Startups and Entrepreneur’s section

The May Report – bringing you the latest in Technology Community News, Information, Opinions, Scoop, and Events.

“Some 12,000 charity goers will be sharing its technology platform and team of auction professionals simultaneously in states across the country on one night in March as the season for galas begins.

The mobile bidding platform sends competitive texts when fans are outbid on their favorite items that are sold to support their charity of choice – whether they can attend or not.

The Oak Brook, IL-based game changer has helped 700 charities raise $60 million since 2011. The company will host events in 120 major North American cities this year. More than revenues, the technology guarantees a convenient, simple and fun way to bring charities’ donors into the digital age using their own phones. Many say that the combination of the technology with a dedicated team sets Gesture apart.

The company revolutionized mobile bidding when it started three years ago as the first technology to allow patrons to bid with their own smartphones. It also was the first to offer a flat-fee business model so charity leaders could put the most of every dollar raised back into their operating budgets to serve community needs.

Listen to national charity leaders, including the American Heart Association, Ronald McDonald House Charities and Boys & Girls Clubs leaders, share their perspectives on doubling auction revenue or making $100,000 more in one night by using the platform and the service.

This month Gesture became the first mobile bidding company to offer in-game professional sports auctions so fans could contribute while rooting for their team. 2013 Stanley Cup winner the Chicago Blackhawks’ Foundation intends to raise up to a quarter of a million dollars annually as fans sip cold ones and donate directly from their seats. Gesture also gave U.S. sports fans the opportunity to bid on Chicago Bears’ Brandon Marshall’s green cleats in honor of Mental Illness Awareness Week last fall.

Whether silent, in-game or online, Gesture keeps all types of auctions in an “always-on” mode. As soon as a patron’s smart phone is registered to the charity’s event, the bidding begins – even if the gala is weeks away or physically the fan cannot be present.

The company has placed as high as 350 people weekly across the country on its payroll to help staff events at a time when 44% of young college graduates are under- or unemployed according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It scored $3.5M in annual revenues this year and secured more than 1,000 events on its books for 2014, a far stretch from the 100 that the team managed during its first year.

Let us show you the mobile bidding technology live at an event or feel free to take a test drive by going to”

Read full article on The May Report

View Post


U.S. Mobile Bidding Leader Expands Silent Auction Fundraising Platform with Live Auction Solutions

Gesture appoints auctioneer veteran Renee Jones who has managed auctions from real estate sales in 30+ states to the disposition of assets on behalf of the US Trustee for the Enron bankruptcy

Chicago, Ill. – January 21, 2014 –Mobile bidding technology leader, Gesture, today announced the appointment of industry veteran Renee Jones as national director of live auction services.

“Our philosophy is centered on being the best partner to the thousands of charities that we work with annually,” noted Jim Alvarez, Gesture president and co-founder. “With the appointment of Renee, we plan to offer a full-service auction solution for our charity partners to continue enhancing relationships with their donors.”

Live Auction ExpertJones has earned a reputation over twenty-five years as one of the industry’s most knowledgeable and experienced benefit auction professionals. She has worked with hundreds of non-profit organizations across the country and in the Caribbean as a professional benefit auctioneer, planner and consultant. She was the youngest competitor to win the National Auctioneers Association’s (NAA) prestigious International Auctioneers Championship. Jones has called auctions for the FDIC, US Customs Service, US Marshal Service, as well as federal and state courts, and municipalities.

A sought after speaker, Jones lectures at dozens of national, regional, and state industry related conferences annually. Jones earned a B.S. degree with honors from Texas Woman’s University and graduated from the Certified Auctioneers Institute at Indiana University. She has served two terms on the NAA board of directors and as Chairman of its Education Trustees. Jones is a designated Benefit Auction Specialist and Certified Estate Specialist.

“What differentiates Gesture is that we have now combined technologically-advanced mobile bidding for non profit events with live auction services in a manner which cannot duplicated in the industry,” Said Ms. Jones. “We provide organizations with a unified system and personnel from start to finish ensuring a streamlined and professionally executed event no matter the size or location.”
Jones will be responsible for developing the company’s live auction strategy, portfolio of live auction services, and its operational implementation.

“We are excited to add a very accomplished industry expert to our Gesture team,” said Alvarez. “Renee’s expertise is focused on education and competency. She complements our event team’s knowledge and our relationships with the best and brightest auctioneers across the country as we expand to manage over 1,000 events next year.”

Ms. Jones added, “Every organization and every event is important and unique, so to maximize the outcome requires a thoroughly customized program from beginning to end. Gesture will blend its state of the art bidding technology with providing the best in live auction event and advisory services.
About AuctionsByCelluar

Based in Chicago, Gesture was founded in 2011 to help non-profits improve fundraising efforts by harnessing the power of technology. The company’s technology platform is responsible for helping to raise over $60 million at hundreds of events annually for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross, Make a Wish, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs, universities such as Notre Dame, Purdue and DePaul, and Chicago-area hospitals including Rush Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Wheaton Franciscan. Visit /.

Join the conversation with @GestureTeam or
Monika Rydzewski, 847.409.7189 or

View Post

Gesture TV

Gesture Named A Chicago Startup Destined to Breakout in 2014

Tech Cocktail reached out to a handful of those fully entrenched in the Chicago startup scene to nominate a startup who was destined to breakout. Guy Turner, Managing Director at Hyde Park Ventures, had this to say about why Gesture was his pick:

“Jim Alvarez is an entrepreneur’s entrepreneur. He is in the trenches with his fast growing team and works many of the events that Gesture serves to ensure quality and to get quick feedback from his customers. The market is also ripe with attendees at charity events – regardless of age – now with a smartphone in their hand. Paper auctions are a thing of the past, and Jim and Gesture are poised to accelerate into this opportunity.”

Read the full article on Tech Cocktail.

View Post


Chicago Bears Receiver, Brandon Marshall Auctions Off Green Cleats To Support Mental Health Awareness Week

Chicago Bears Receiver Brandon Marshall Brandon wore a pair of bright green cleats to promote Mental Health Awareness Week during the Bears 27-21 victory. He had a great night, scoring two touchdown passes.

Brandon partnered with Gesture to put together an online auction on just hours before the game.

He was fined $10,500 for violating the NFL’s uniform policy. Said Brandon: “Football is my platform not my purpose. This fine is nothing compared to the conversation started & awareness raised.”

Mission accomplished as his charity, The Brandon Marshall Foundation was mentioned all over the news and his shoes fetched $360l for the cause.

View Post

Gesture is Named a Finalist for the 12th Annual Chicago Innovation Awards

innovationbadgeOut of a record-breaking 562 nominees, Gesture of Chicago IL has been selected as one of the Top 100 Finalists still in the running for the 12th annual Chicago Innovation Awards.  The awards celebrate the most innovative new products and services in the Chicago region across all organization sizes, sectors and industries.  1500 business and civic leaders will come together to honor the winners when they are announced on October 30th at Chicago’s Harris Theater.

The innovation nominated was founded in 2011 to help non-profits improve fundraising efforts by harnessing the power of technology. The company’s technology platform is responsible for helping to raise over $52 million at hundreds of events annually for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross, Make a Wish, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs, universities such as Notre Dame, Purdue and DePaul, and Chicago-area hospitals including Rush Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Wheaton Franciscan.

“Chicago is in the midst of a monumental upsurge in innovation,” said Tom Kuczmarski, co-founder with Chicago journalist Dan Miller of the awards.  “It’s inspiring to see the range of vision and the depth of talent among organizations in the Chicago area.  Companies are investing in innovation and taking more risks to launch new ventures and uncover new value.”

As one of the Top 100 Finalists, Gesture will receive a $2,500 scholarship to attend The Practical Innovator, a day-long executive education course on September 27th led by top faculty who teach innovation at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Each of the Top 100 Finalists is also in the running for the annual “People’s Choice Award,” selected through online balloting at

Out of the Top 100 Finalists, the judges will select 10 winners of the Chicago Innovation Awards, as well as winners of the Up-and-Comer Awards representing innovation in the start-up community, the Social Innovator Award and the Collaboration Award.  The winners will be invited to ring the NASDAQ Bell in New York City, invited to separate meetings with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Governor Quinn to discuss their innovation and profiled in Crain’s Chicago Business.

View Post


U.S. Silent Auction Leader Gesture Adds Tech Guru to Team

Gesture appoints John Polacek, speaker, popular award-winning open source code author, to help lead mobile bidding platform


johnnydayMobile bidding technology company Gesture today announced the appointment of John Polacek to Lead Web Developer, reporting to Chief Technology Officer, Rich Aquino.

“The appointment of John is critical because our philosophy is centered on the best people and technology working in collaboration with our charity partners. We are committed to a mobile bidding platform that keeps increasing the money each raises by 20-60 percent compared to the prior year’s silent auction,” noted Jim Alvarez, Gesture president and co-founder.

Polacek, previously senior developer at global advertising agency Draftfcb, has worked on mobile sites, apps, websites and more for brands such as Motorola, Boeing, Kmart, Volkswagen, Sharpie and Dow. He is best known for developing plugins used by thousands of developers and agencies all over the world to create award-winning work for their clients.

Polacek was sought to speak at Techweek Chicago where he gave the talk: “Open Sourcing Your Code for Fame and Fortune.” His popular responsive web design tools have been featured in Wired Magazine’s WebMonkey and online coding publications like HTML5 Weekly, Codrops and Treehouse. Polacek earned a BFA in illustration from Northern Illinois University.

“We are excited to add a very accomplished developer to the team and to elevate our silent auction technology to a new level as non-profit leaders increasingly seek engaging technologies that are easy-to-use and enhance relationships with their donors. We help charities take fundraising to the next level,” said Aquino.

Gesture plans to help manage 750 charity events in 2014.

About Gesture: Based in Chicago, Gesture was founded in 2011 to help non-profits improve fundraising efforts by harnessing the power of technology. The company’s technology platform is responsible for helping to raise over $52 million at hundreds of events annually for organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, American Red Cross, Make a Wish, American Heart Association, Boys & Girls Clubs, universities such as Notre Dame, Purdue and DePaul, and Chicago-area hospitals including Rush Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Wheaton Franciscan. Join the conversation with @GestureTeam or on Facebook.

View Post

The Denver Post: Charitable silent auctions go digital and ditch the pen and clipboard

BK29AUCTIONTECHThe silent auction, among the last holdouts to succumb to the digital revolution, is finally giving way.

This year, several Colorado charities and nonprofits, from the Children’s Museum of Denver to the Colorado Symphony, ditched the pen and clipboard for the smartphone and Web browser.

By turning to mobile and online-based auctions for marquee fundraising events, charities increased the amount of money raised by 20-60 percent from the prior year.

The Children’s Museum used technology from Gesture, which allows donors to place bids via text message or a mobile Web browser.

“A huge part of Gesture’s appeal was that it allowed guests to bid on their cellphones and still mingle during the gala, as opposed to standing in front of a sheet of paper the whole evening to watch over their bids,” said Rachael Fischer, a marketing coordinator for the Children’s Museum. “Another great factor was that guests and museum employees were able to start the silent-auction process a few days before the gala by registering online.”

Article was originally published in the Denver Post.

View Post

Gesture Products

Make Hope Happen
is more than just a motto.

People want to act on what’s important to them, to contribute to the success of something that matters. But often the business of charity interferes with the experience of giving. Since 2011, we’ve partnered with organizations to capture each helping hand, each friendly smile, and each round of applause by turning inspiration into action.

Meet Our People

1,000+ Organizations have trusted Gesture nationwide

Read What Our Partners Say
Gesture partners with many different nonprofit and charity groups all across the country

Reach Out

Let’s make hope happen!