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Archive for November, 2014

The Fear of Change (Part 2 of 2)

Posted by Scott On November 21st

In Part 1 of this Blog I talked about change – a natural part of our every day existence.  Change is inevitable – and sometimes essential. This is especially true when it comes to the planning and the execution of a charity fundraising event.

Throughout the course of a year I run into charities and organizations that are resistant to change – afraid to transform their fundraising efforts and program – due in part to tradition, despite the fact their events continue to raise less and less money.

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Even if an event raises the same amount of money each year, the charity is still losing money due to escalating expenses and inflation.  As I said, “Some people just won’t let go of the past – even if it means they’ll have no future.”

In many instances the person or persons most resistant to change are the older committee members of an event – those who have been an active and loud voice of the charity or organization for a great number of years. In fact, they might have even organized the first event decades ago.

Many of these early fundraising pioneers – as well as some newcomers – simply do not like change. And those hung up on tradition often recruit a “following” because they feel there is strength in numbers. The “same old same old” works just fine in their minds and they’ll resist any attempt to steer their sinking ship to a new port.

In many instances just one word explains their reasoning why – control.  They hate to lose it.

If you’re an Event Chair you cannot let this happen.  You must stand strong – take the ship’s wheel – and direct it to that new and exciting port – the one with more riches.

While some charities may have a paid staff person to oversee and coordinate an event, the majority of Event Chairs are actually unpaid volunteers. The person in charge, who feels change is needed, can experience a great deal of self-doubt and expect criticism right up to and including the night of the event. In short, “It’s lonely at the top.” But remember, even Mt. Everest has been conquered.

For the record, I’m not saying change for change’s sake. I am saying “change for the better with time-proven techniques.”

The art of fundraising changes every year and it’s my job to know the trends and incorporate those trends into every auction I host.

Recently I was hired by a group to oversee their fundraising event. During the planning stages I laid out the game plan which included major changes to their past events.  It came as no surprise to me when a few voices sitting around the table disapproved of making changes and insisted their event stay the same as last year citing “tradition!”

Here’s where the strong Event Chair took charge. Under no circumstances was she going to revert back to the old ways. She explained the declining revenue and that change was necessary for the livelihood of the organization and the families counting on them.

 

expectations of a frontman-fundraising auctioneerShe stuck to her guns – quashed the vocal minority – and worked closely with me in the months leading up to the event to assure every “t” was crossed and every “i” dotted. This meant the event did not look the same as previous years, did not have the same items to be auctioned off, did not have the same people touting the cause and was a heck of a lot more fun.

I’m happy to report that during the debriefing meeting – after the event – committee members could not have been more congratulatory. Comments included; “What a great event!”  “We had so much fun!” “That went so smoothly!”

But the most important comment was; “We raised more money!!!”

It takes strong leadership to implement changes – but as this story proves – it’s worth it in the long run.

The older committee members – those resistant to change – may put up a fight and speak in loud voices. But the thrill of putting on a fresh and fun event and raising more money when compared to previous events will speak even louder.

 

 

A full time professional Benefit Auctioneer, Robertson annually conducts 70-80 fundraising auctions, raising more than $25 million dollars thus far in 2014. He is one of an estimated 30 auctioneers in the country that make fundraising auctions their full time profession.  Scott has earned the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) designation from the National Auctioneers Association.  Less than 1% of the auctioneers in the country have earned the BAS professional designation.  To learn more about Scott Robertson Auctioneers visit thevoe.com or call (239) 246-2139.

The Fear of Change-Part 1

Posted by Scott On November 13th

Ben Franklin is credited for the quote, “There are only two things certain in life: Death and Taxes.” Well, with all due respect to one of our country’s favorite Founding Fathers, who was also an author, inventor, statesmen and diplomat – he missed one. The truth is “There are only three things certain in life:  Death. Taxes. And Change.”

Scott Robertson

Change is a natural part of our existence. Things around us change.  Just look at the northern forests as their summer greenery turns into a canopy of brilliant multi-colors. We also change. Not only physically as we get older, but what we wear, what we drive, the technology that we use.

There are those who are resistant to change.  Although any individual in any age group can be guilty, it does seem the older one gets the more likely one is to reject change.

In many ways the status quo is a warm, cozy blanket – and why discard that which is so familiar – that which has been good enough for so many comforting years – for the preconceived untested and unfamiliar unknown.

Why indeed?

Well today, when it comes to the planning and the execution of a charity fundraising event, there is a very, very good reason – indeed.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times in the course of a year I run into charities and organizations that are resistant to change – even though their events have suffered a slow and agonizing decline in recent years. Some people just won’t let go of the past – even if it means they’ll have no future.

There are so many angles to this Blog it’s difficult to pick which road to head down first.  So perhaps the best way to explain exactly what I mean is by telling a true story – one that occurred recently.

Scott Robertson

After more than 20 years as a Professional Benefit Auctioneer I’m proud to say I do come with a wealth of experience.  But I also come with a great deal of enthusiasm and work hard to raise the level of excitement at every fundraiser at which I’m hired and that includes both the silent and live auctions.

This knowledge, this passion comes through early-on in the process of planning a major event. Unfortunately, the knowledge and passion don’t always translate well with some committee members – and especially those – for lack of a better word – curmudgeons – that have been an active and loud voice of the charity or organization for a great number of years. In fact, they might have even organized the first event decades ago.

Many of these early fundraising pioneers – as well as some newcomers – simply do not like change.  The “same old same old” works just fine in their minds and they’ll resist any attempt to steer the sinking ship to a new port. In this particular case they did their best to sabotage the event.

In many instances just one word explains their reasoning why – control.  They hate to lose it.

In Part 2 of this Blog I’ll talk about how the person in charge of the event should handle the taking over of the ship’s wheel and direct the sea-worthy vessel to that new and exciting port – the one with more riches.

 

 

A full time professional Benefit Auctioneer, Robertson annually conducts 70-80 fundraising auctions, raising more than $25 million dollars thus far in 2014. He is one of an estimated 30 auctioneers in the country that make fundraising auctions their full time profession.  Scott has earned the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) designation from the National Auctioneers Association.  Less than 1% of the auctioneers in the country have earned the BAS professional designation.  To learn more about Scott Robertson Auctioneers visit thevoe.com or call (239) 246-2139.

 

 

Utilizing Auction Item Consignment Companies

Posted by Scott On November 6th

Seemingly every day I receive a message from a client asking “How do we secure great items for our fundraising auction”. Does this question sound familiar to you and your committee? You are not alone in this quest to find high profit items that will excite your guests and get them to bid.

Experience has taught me that in order to have a successful fundraising auction you need the following four components in place.

  • The right people in the seats. These guests must believe in your cause, have the financial resources to support the cause, and the desire to help.
  • Great items for the attendees to purchase. Everyone is strategic in their bidding and will not bid on items they don’t intend to use. Pre-event promotion is always a good idea so attendees arrive ready to bid on items that excite them.
  • A great ambassador like a fundraising auctioneer. He or she will be the glue that holds the other components together and motivates the audience.
  • A cause that people can easily support. Those donating their money at a fundraising event want to make sure their donation will make an impact on the lives of others.

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If you have 3 of the 4 components in place – then great – you’re almost there – but not quite. And the component I’ve seen left out most often is #2 – great items.

If the right people are there, if the right auctioneer is there and the cause is right, but the items are wrong, a charity will leave so much money on the table because they weren’t strategic in their item procurement.

I hear from many charities throughout the year. They tell me they would love to have better live auction items but don’t have the resources. I totally understand.  In fact, getting the right items for a live auction is more challenging than ever for some.

One possible solution for these charities may be – and I stress may be – Consignment Companies, great businesses that are totally focused on putting together trips and experiences that are absolutely unique and wonderful top shelf items.

These companies purchase items at volume wholesale prices, mark them up a little, and then provide the item or package to Not-For-Profit organizations at no initial cost. The charity only pays for the item after it is auctioned and sold at the charity’s gala. Rest assured a good fundraising auctioneer never sells an item below the cost of the package. Another advantage of using consignment is that the packages can be sold multiple to times to several bidders, a donated item typically can only be sold once.

When the auction is over the charity contacts the consignment company, informs them which item was purchased, provides them with the funds and then gives them the contact information of the person who won the item.

The consignment company will act as the concierge and contact the bidder directly and work with them all the way until the bidder utilizes the trip. Typically quality consignment companies can be flexible, if needed, to modify the trip to meet the needs of the buyer.

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It’s important the consignment company acts as the concierge so the buyer receives the personal service they deserve and the charity can focus on other matters.

Another great point about these companies is that they often under promise and over deliver and that will make the winning bidder feel even better about the item they purchased. That’s pretty rare in today’s world.

A great opportunity for donors is underwrite the cost of the package. Often time’s potential donors don’t really have a product or service they can donate which will generate active bidding. (Example “Last will and testament provided by an attorney) While the service may be needed by all…………exciting trips and experiences are so much more fun and will generate more profit for the charity.

I do have one caution.  There are a lot of consignment companies out there. Do not go with one you found on the Internet – or the cheapest. You need to use a company that has an outstanding reputation and a great track record for delivering what it promises.

If you’re looking for one, contact me. I have a great one in mind.

I hope this helps those charities looking for unique items and experiences their guests will truly love to bid on.

Sure, there is a cost involved. But even with the cost big dividends await.