Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Keeping in Touch with Donors

Posted by Jessica Geer On June 19th

Ahh summertime – the four months out of the year when people relax and recharge their batteries.  Families head out on vacation. Picnics are held in local parks. Florida folks tend to head to cooler climates. And charities reconnect with their donors.

Oh, did that last one throw you off?  Well, let me explain.

Summertime is the best time to reach out to those donors and supporters who gave so generously at your last fundraiser or auction. That’s because your event was probably held between October and May so you’re in that ‘tween stage. The last event is a distant memory but the next event is heading for the spotlight.

It’s always important to remind your donors and supporters that the money they gave last time is being utilized successfully and frugally. Saying thank you – whether it be by spoken word or written note – is important and much appreciated by those who gave.

But it’s even more important that your donors and supporters understand the money they gave previously is being invested wisely and really changing the lives of those for whom the donation was intended.

This summertime reconnection with donors and supporters should be packaged in a three-level message. Here’s an example.

Let’s say a portion of the money raised at your last event was going toward funding reading or math tutoring sessions for students. The message you send to donors and supporters should include the following:

1)   A Message From A Student.  Nothing is more powerful than a grateful quote from a student who is being helped by the tutoring program because the donation is shaping his or her life for the better.

2)   A Message From The Tutor.  This person is not only the engineer guiding the train of knowledge, but is an eye witness to the progress of the life-enhancing, one-student classroom.

3)   A Message From The Director or CEO.  Yes, this is from whom donors and supporters would typically expect to receive a message. This person is important since he or she can give an overall picture of the program, explain how many students the program helped and how it made a difference in their lives. This is also a good note to

include a simple sentence of “save the date” to reconfirm the date of your upcoming event.

Of course, this technique can be tailor made to reflect the charity you represent. So, even if it’s the dog days of summer, be sure to reconnect with your donors and supporters.  This is the ideal time of the year to let them know their previous donation is being put to good use.

This will accomplish two things. It will make them feel good about the money they gave and just might open their wallets a little wider or make their checks a little heavier the next time they attend your event.

Have a great summer!

 

 

Did you know a fundraising auctioneer is much like a power company? They both must watch and adjust their energy level output at all times.

For me, it starts prior to an auction during the cocktail reception. I take a good look at the audience prior to launching the live auction and try to get a sense of the energy in the room.  I do that because when I come out I want my energy level to be 10 to 15% higher than the level of energy of the attendees.Image result for energy level clip art
If we start the live auction with the Fund-a-Need/Special Appeal, I reduce my energy to just 5% above the audience. I want to capture the somber feeling of the moment – and allow the attendees to recognize the good work they are about to do with their donations.  Then once the gifts start to roll in, I increase my energy level up an additional 10% to entice the audience to participate by exhibiting my heart-felt gratitude for their generosity.

I don’t want to be a whole lot higher than that because I don’t want to come out looking like some crazy guy, which can set some people back, especially at first time events.  I also don’t want to come out at their energy level because positive energy is contagious. When people see I’m energetic then they usually adjust themselves accordingly.

Energy levels during an auction fluctuate. The attendees can get more excited or less excited, depending on many variables including, but not limited to:

  • Length of auction
  • Show Flow
  • Room configuration
  • Behavior and participation of auction chairs
  • Bid spotter interaction
  • Use of appropriate and timely music
  • Audio and visuals
  • Current stock market performance
  • Time of day
  • Alcohol consumption
  • Negative interaction with staff or volunteers
  • Décor
  • Mission of the charity
  • History of the event
  • Demographics of the audience
  • Popularity and selection of auction items
  • Political climate

As the auctioneer, I’ve got to recognize the ebb and flow of the energy level in the room and adjust accordingly. If the energy level in the room goes up, I go up, maintaining that 10 to 15% higher level than the audience. If we’re all fired up – we’re really winning. Auctioneers want to do the best they can without becoming that “obnoxious host”, who is just so high energy he or she leaves everyone back in the dust. It’s all about audience analysis and being able to regulate one’s own energy level as the event continues forward. Remember, auctioneers should be entertaining – not the entertainment!

I find the key is to be able to adjust my energy level, and not be a robot on stage always staying at the same level. Adjusting my energy level during the auction is almost like a dance. You have to give your audience what they want. And what they want in an auctioneer is someone who is fun, energetic, enthusiastic, passionate about the cause, and understands where the money is going. All these components have to reflect in the auctioneer’s voice, body language and facial expressions. That’s what makes a good auctioneer great at what they do.

The energy level is all about relating to the crowd. If I’m too high, I’m going to lose the audience. If I’m too low, I’m not going to bring them up to the desired energy level. So, I want to start out with a 10 to 15% higher energy level than they are. Hopefully I’ll bring them up 10 to 15% within a few items, if not sooner. Than I’m going to go up another 10 to 15%, which means I will be at a 30% higher energy level than when I first started to analyze the room prior to making my entrance.  How do I know this? Well, 20-plus-years’ experience as a professional benefit auctioneer helps. Of course, there’s always lessons learned through trial and error.

But, I’ve really been studying the human dynamics of speakers and presenters my entire life. I can even remember silently evaluating my 3rd grade teacher thinking, “She should have presented the lesson in another way to capture my classmates’ attention.” My classmates and I might have been more engaged in the lesson if she had been more engaging”.  And that’s why one of the secrets to a successful fundraiser is to have an auctioneer that can accurately gage an audience – and truly understands and can manipulate the energy level at an event. It’s absolutely crucial to maximize revenue.  Your auctioneer should be able to sense the energy level of the room prior to taking the stage and then adjust his or her level slightly higher than the crowds. As the audience’s energy level starts to climb, the auctioneer’s climbs as well, always staying that 10% to 15% higher.

IImage result for top of mountaint’s much like a professional mountain climber taking a party up a slope.  He leads the way while the others follow closely behind. As he steps higher. They step higher. As they start getting close, he advances a little further upward, encouraging and enticing them to an even higher level.  Eventually, everyone reaches the top and feels self-fulfilling accomplishment. As for the leader – he just smiles knowing he helped the climbers reach an incredible goal – at the top.

The 2017 Celebrity Martini Glass Auction of Naples FL raised another record setting amount of $600,000+! Scott Robertson Auctioneers has been honored to play a role in the fundraising efforts of the CMGA for the past 5 years.

Brenda Melton & Scott Robertson

 

Since its inception in 2010 the event has grown exponentially due to the vision, hard work and perseverance of its Founder, Brenda Melton.
Brenda founded this event to fulfill the mission of making a difference through the power of art.  To do so, she gathered a roster of martini glasses autographed by celebrities or American heroes and then enlisted noted artists to add their designs to the glasses. All while keeping with the personality and accomplishments of their signers.  
Brenda stated “When I brought Scott Robertson Auctioneers in to conduct and consult for the CMGA, I knew it was the right thing to do but it was scary. Previously a professional auctioneer volunteered their time, which was wonderful, but I knew we needed to take the fundraising portion of the event up to a higher level. The year before Scott came in the event raised $90,000, this years event raised $650,000. In the past 5 years we have raised a total of almost $2 million. which is nothing short of amazing.”
This year’s invitation only event took place on March 26, 2017 and is a prime example of how passion and dedication can pay off in a big way for a non-profit organization. Funds raised at this year’s auction will benefit the PAWS Assistance Dogs organization.  PAWS breeds, trains and places support and therapy dogs with children and veterans who have physical, neurological and developmental disabilities.
 

A highlight of the live auction was the martini glass signed by Lin-Manuel Miranda of Hamilton fame.  The glass was beautifully designed and once the bidding reached $20,000 for the glass, generous supporters Jay & Patty Baker stepped up and offered to donate 2 exclusive tickets to a Hamilton show on Broadway.  The tickets increased the value of the package to $40,000 with the Bakers being the winning bidders. At that moment, Patty with a gleam in her eyes announced, “Scott I will donate the tickets to the auction if you sell them right now”. The bidding escalated to $15,000 for the pair of tickets, thus bringing the total value of the package to $55,000.

CMGA is yet another glowing example of how a proven need, motivated chairs, engaged donors, great product when combined with a driving force on stage (Scott Robertson Auctioneers) are a winning combination!

Not All Items Belong in the Live Auction

Posted by Jessica Geer On April 6th

After 20-plus years as a Professional Benefit Auctioneer, I’ve seen charities and organizations make plenty of mistakes when it comes to the Live Auction portion of their fundraising event. Here’s one of the biggest:

Charities or organizations intentionally decide to have items in their live auction which they feel all attendees can afford.

You know the drill – putting three or four items up for bid, in the live auction, that will meet everyone’s price point. By doing this you probably feel better because now everyone can participate in the excitement and have the chance to take something home at the end of the night.

This sure sounds like a great idea. The problem is – come Monday morning – your bottom line will suffer.

You must remember, it takes as much time, effort and energy to auction low priced items as it does more expensive items – and for less money.

Here’s a great example –

You have a trip valued at $3,000 – $5,000 vs. an item in the $20,000 – $25,000 range. Even if the trip would get the top bid of $5,000 – the charity leaves potentially $20,000 on the table. Add that up three to four times during a live auction and you begin to see my point.

(For the record, at your event the “affordable items” may be $300-$500 with the “expensive items” going for $2,000. The percentages are still the same as will be your feelings on Monday morning following the auction.)

So, my recommendation is to put the high priced items in the live auction and place the lower to mid-priced donated items in the silent auction. This is a great way to appease your guests without deep pockets and get them involved.

Another way is to make sure the live auction is lively!  Just because a guest is not a bidder doesn’t mean they can’t have fun cheering on the bidders and watching the action.

 

Time is money.  So invest your Live Auction time wisely.

 

Selecting Consignment Items for Live Auctions

Posted by Jessica Geer On March 15th

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is; “What sells best at a fundraising auction? We’re looking at consignment companies and want to pick items that are going to sell really well to our audience.” questioning-person

My answer is always the same. “It really depends on your attendees and the people you’re going to sell the items to.”

National trends, such as trips, don’t really help because they are specific to those who want to go. For instance, if it’s a trip to Hawaii and bidders have never been there they probably would love the opportunity. But if they have already been there on numerous occasions and don’t really care if they go back, they are more likely to bid on a trip to a different destination.

What was the number one selling auction item in 2015? Good tickets to see Taylor Swift. What are the hot trending items in 2016? The Broadway Musical Hamilton, Ticket to see an Adele concert and Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. What do all these items have in common…..scarcity and demand.

Here’s what I recommend you do. Ask your guests what kind of items they’d like to see. But be sure the attendees who you direct that question to will actually spend money at the auction. If someone suggests a trip to Ireland, but has no intention of bidding on the trip, don’t listen to them. It’s a waste of a your time and energy.

The people you do want to ask are those that have the financial resources and have historically been some of the best bidders and supporters of the charity over the years.

And don’t ask open-ended questions. They are too broad.

paradise

Rather than ask; “What kind of trips would you like to see in this year’s auction?”, be more specific. “If you had the opportunity to go, would you be more interested in a trip to Ireland, Italy, Greece or somewhere else?” That will get the conversation going. In fact, they might even give a clue where they’d like to go. “Those sound good, but I’ve always wanted to go to Mazatlan, Mexico to go sport fishing.”  Bingo. Now you’re onto something.

A follow up question could be, “Does that sound like a $10,000 trip to you?” Their response will give you the opportunity to gauge what you might expect to raise during the live auction.

Here are two additional questions you can ask.

“Is there anything you’ve seen at another auction that really interested you – because we really want auction items that will resonate with our guest?”

“Do you know of someone attending that has something on their bucket list – something that we might be able to offer them? When have great resources we are simply trying to find the best items for our attendees”.

The bottom line is, when you’re selecting items for your live auction, do your homework. Don’t just pick an item and hope that it will sell well. Know going into it you believe it will sell well and you have the people to back that up and will have interest in it.do-your-homework

So, reject items that will merely take up space and present only items that will sell and that match your clientele. And don’t be afraid to ask the important questions to make that happen. That’s the #1 job when you’re producing a live auction.

What to learn more about how to best work with auction consignment companies and which companies you can trust? Reach out to me at scott@thevoe.com

 

 

 

© 2017 Scott Robertson Auctioneers All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means.

What do NFL Kickers and Auctioneers have in Common?

Posted by Scott On February 5th

When the Game’s on the line – hire the best.

On the rare occasion I have a Sunday off I, like many people across the country, enjoy watching NFL football.  Ironically, one of the last games I watched I had an epiphany regarding the field goal kicker. I realized we had something in common.

The scenario was pretty straight forward.  If he made the kick his team would win the game.  If he missed – they would lose.                                                                                                        .football

If you think about it, in a game played within the regulation 60 minutes, the kicker may only be on the field for a maximum of 20 seconds actual game time.  That includes a few field goal attempts and points after touchdown. But those few seconds can be turning point on whether or not his team wins their division, makes the playoffs or takes home the Super Bowl trophy. (The New England Patriots are sitting home this weekend due to a missed extra point)

Team owners and other team officials understand the importance of hiring the best kickers. In fact, the Top 20 field goal kickers in the NFL make $1 million or more annually.  Some are paid as much as $4 million. They are that valuable to the team effort.

One must also realize it takes thousands upon thousands of man hours to get a team ready for play. Even if you just start at the team’s first practice and end when regular season ends, the time and effort put into succeeding is enormous. Yet with all that, it could all come down to one player – on the field – for a short period of time.

It doesn’t surprise me that these top field goal kickers – considering the pressure they are under to produce – can make a good living.

field goal As a professional fundraising auctioneer I often feel like a field goal kicker.

 A great number of people have worked many, many hours to plan an event and then I, like a kicker  with just seconds left in the game for the win, arrive at the event – take the stage – and do what I’ve  learned to do successfully – help charities reach or succeed their  fundraising goals.

Sure it’s a lot of pressure. But when you’re part of the planning process and are totally prepared to do  what you were hired to do – you can approach the task at hand with confidence. The best professional kickers will make the kick. The best professional auctioneer will raise the dough.

I don’t get paid by the hour. Nor does the kicker. We make a good living because of our performance – not by the number of minutes we’re on the field or on the stage.

So when the (fundraising) game is on the line, put me in coach,  and I will put your gala through tfootball coachhe uprights of success.

How I differ from other Charity Auctioneers

Posted by Scott On October 1st

People often ask “So Scott, what makes you different from your competition?”

And really the answer is two-fold. First, there’s my performance the evening of the event (or the day of the event)…whenever it happens to be. So it’s my performance on stage.

But the second, and possibly the most important, is the consulting that I’m able to do with your organization prior to the event.

See, fundraising auctions are all that I do. I eat, sleep, and breathe them all day, EVERY DAY. This is not a side line for me. This is not a secondary type of thing. This is what I do.

When you call, I answer the phone. When you send an email, I respond. And that makes a huge difference in your fundraising success.

You know, there’s lots of tips and tricks and nuances that go on with fundraising auctions and I stay right on top of those trends.

So when you retain my services, not only do you get Scott Robertson the performance auctioneer, you also get Scott Robertson, the fundraising auction consultant.

Not all charity auctioneers are made the same. Some…

Continue reading “How I differ from other Charity Auctioneers” »

You know it seems like 50% of the time when I’m doing an event for the first time, the same question always comes up, right in the heart of the event.

When the silent auction is going on and it’s about to be closed down, someone will come rushing up and say, “Wait, wait! We can’t close the silent auction. We don’t have enough bids!”

Well I’m telling you, ladies and gentlemen, if you don’t follow your timeline, if you don’t close on the timeline…BIG, BIG MISTAKE.

Continue reading “Why You Should Never Delay the Silent Auction at Your Fundraiser” »

Why the Tuxedo at Every Auction Scott?

Posted by Scott On September 4th

Hi, Scott Robertson here and yes, I’m dressed in a tuxedo. I wear a tuxedo every day!

No, just kidding! But I do wear a tuxedo at almost every fundraising event. Why? Because I want people to know who’s in charge when the auction gets started.

See, that’s real important to establish a presence at an event. Not in a dictator manner. But rather just so that people have confidence and understand who’s in charge, who’s leading the event. That’s who you want leading your event is a true leader. And the tuxedo makes me stand out a little more, my voice takes over from there, and everybody wins. We’re all looking for leadership. At a fundraising auction, I consider that my job.

Need America’s leading charity auctioneer to take charge of your fundraiser? Call me at (239) 246-2139 and let’s chat!

-Scott

FB like button

Social Media has revolutionized how we communicate with friends, family, and brands. For decades, the most coveted form of advertising has been word-of-mouth, and now, social media has created a platform where everyone can take part in the conversation. For example, the “Like” button on Facebook has changed how we share information. Every time we “Like” a comment, post, photo, video, or company/organization page, that information is used and perceived in a few ways. If you’re a non-profit, and you can leverage that information, you will be well on your way to being relevant to the next generation of donors.

Facebook is watching your every move.

When you “Like” anything on Facebook, in essence, you are creating your own buyer profile for marketers to target you. “Like” your favorite restaurant or department store page. You will see similar ads show up in your newsfeed for products related to those pages. Do you ever notice when you visit Nordstrom’s website, eyeing a pair of shoes, they magically show up in your newsfeed? It’s powerful stuff! Now, think how you might be able to leverage these tools to reach potential donors and start creating a brand.

Everyone is a spokesmen when using social media, and it has changed how we make purchases.

Continue reading “Social Media for Non-Profits: Building a Culture of Giving One “Like” at a Time” »