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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.

Ice Bucket Challenge A Cool Idea – But

Posted by Scott On October 9th

Ice

So, let’s be honest. How many of you participated in or watched someone do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge this summer? Oh, quite the show of hands.

Well, that comes as no surprise to me. You’d have to have been living under a rock not to know about it. The Ice Bucket Challenge was EVERYWHERE! Not only was it covered by every major news organization in the country and every local news outlet, but YouTube was flooded with people flooding their heads with the cubed liquid.

Some celebrities even tried to make the challenge their own. Forget ice water. Charlie Sheen, for example, put $10,000 in a bucket and dumped it on his head. Matt Damon did it with – well – let’s just say the water came from the bathroom area. But, I’m sure it was clean.

You might be curious about the final numbers.

I did some research on-line and this is what I discovered. According to the International Business Times, approximately $115 million was raised during the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. According to Forbes.com, that represents an increase of donations of 3,500% when compared for the same time period a year ago. In short, it was extremely successful.

Watching hundreds of thousands of celebrities and normal citizens in the United States and beyond – pour ice and ice cold water over their heads as they participated in the Challenge was – well – refreshing. It’s wonderful that an organization researching to find a cure for Lou Gehrig’s disease did so well in such a relatively short period of time.

But, here’s the problem.

During the Challenge I did find one thing very curious – the absence of the ALS group. They remained in the shadows the entire time and just allowed the dollars to rain in. It seemed to me they did not want to get in the way of a good thing. It might have interfered with the dynamic. Believe me when I say this is highly unusual for such a high-profile charity, but strategically brilliant.

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The other thing I found curious was the vague explanation as to where all those millions of dollars in donations would actually be spent. Those who participated and those who paid to have others participate really had no idea where their money was going – except in the ALS coffers.

Gimmicks are great. But in this instance, some felt the gimmick left too many unanswered questions. After all, the monies raised were a windfall – and I would image – the total, totally unexpected.

Donors appreciate specific information. They want to know exactly where the money they are donating is going. This is one of the reasons during a fundraising event I’m constantly reminding guests about the “cause.”
This is especially true when I host a Fund-A-Need event or segment during the gala. That’s when you have a very specific goal, such as purchasing new vehicles to deliver meals to the elderly, and all funds raised go directly to that need.

So letting guests know exactly where their donations will be utilized is key to a successful fundraising event. What typically doesn’t work, in sustainable way, are gimmicks and I advise every Event Chair I talk with to avoid them at all costs.
For the record, I salute the National ALS organization and all those who participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge. $115 million is one heck of a sum.

But regional and local charities should avoid such publicity-driven stunts and focus on their specific mission in a serious, but fun manner. Your guests will be much more likely to return the next year and participate and donate again – unlike the hundreds of thousands that participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge.

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I’m going to see if Charlie Sheen has another $10,000 he can pour on MY head.

Audience Management

Posted by Scott On October 2nd

 

I’d like to take you back in time to your classroom years. Can you hear the school bell ringing signaling the start of a new school day?  Can you smell the food being prepared in the cafeteria kitchen?  Can you hear someone running down the hallway trying to get to class before the teacher closes the door to begin his or her lesson?

Now, I’d like for you to think of your favorite teacher.  You know the one.  It was the class you looked forward to attending every day because the teacher had a passion for what they were teaching.  And their passion became the student’s passion.

What you might not have thought about back then is that the teacher, because of his or her passion for and knowledge of the subject they were teaching and his or her preparation prior to starting the lesson, had total control of the classroom.  It was a control fashioned through positivity – not negativity.

In many ways a benefit auctioneer is exactly like your favorite teacher.

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If a professional fundraising auctioneer is doing his job correctly, he or she has great control over the audience. They don’t gain control by being in the guest’s faces, slamming books on a desk or having someone stand in the corner. They do it through their presence, their experience, their knowledge of the charity and their passion for raising money for a great cause. If the auctioneer is good, this should all appear effortless.

Personally speaking, I won’t work with a group if I don’t believe in their cause. I also won’t conduct an auction until I’ve done my homework and have a total understanding of the charity and its motive and purpose for needing the funds.

Hopefully, during the auction, the auctioneer communicates his passion through body language, facial expressions and gestures, and of course through the words he speaks while on stage or on the event floor.

An auctioneer, like a teacher, should never demand control of the room. It should always be earned without the audience ever being aware of it.  And the best way to earn control is through Presence, Preparation and Passion.

By demonstrating these 3 P’s, you can add to more to your event when it concludes – Perfection and Profitable.

 

I Love my Homework-No really, I do!

Posted by Scott On July 17th

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I love my current occupation as a professional benefit auctioneer. But like many hard working professionals, I often reflect back to my previous occupation and think to myself, “If it wasn’t for the lessons I’ve learned during that job I would not be as successful in my current job.”

What’s ironic about that statement is my previous profession was that of a teacher – and a coach. For 16 years I taught high school – and yes – I assigned plenty of homework.  But I did it with a smile on my face and with passion in my soul knowing that a little hard work on the students part would make them more productive citizens once they tossed their graduation caps into the air and continued life’s wonderful journey away from these hallowed halls.

And during those 16 years I took an old teacher’s adage to heart, “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care!”  There must be something to those 14 words.  I was fortunate enough to win many awards recognizing me as an outstanding teacher.

Today, most of us shutter at the thought of homework.  I would bet many of you have nightmares on occasion about a homework assignment you didn’t complete – or lost on your way to school.

As for me, I love it. And I have homework assignments every day – every week of the year.

That’s because, as a fundraising auctioneer, I really get involved with the charity or organization I am going to represent.  After all, how can I stand in front of – or in many cases intermingle closely with their guests and donors – if I know very little about the charity and its cause?

So now I have a new adage.  “No one knows how much you care until they know how much you know about their good work.”

To me, homework is everything. It’s the foundation of what I do. In fact, I really don’t care for the word “work” in homework.  I find it enjoyable and rewarding.  And it is a critical component to not only my success – but to the charity’s success as well.

Ahh Homework!  I think I’ll get back at it right after I put the period at the end of this sentence.

 

“For additional information on fundraising auctions and Scott Robertson Auctioneers, please visit his website“© 2014 Scott Robertson Auctioneers. All Rights Reserved. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without express written consent of the author.

The Strategy For A Successful Silent Auction

Posted by Scott On May 22nd

“Instant Purchase” Option Gaining Popularity At Silent Auctions

Over the past few months I’ve been focusing on the Live Auction portion of fundraising since it is the part of the event which brings in the most money. But the Silent Auction portion is also very important and I have several tips which will certainly help your silent auction go more smoothly – and more profitably.

A silent auction does have a “life cycle.” My first advice is to have the silent auction tables set up and the silent auction items on display prior to the first guest arriving. This is important because the minute your guests arrive, they usually head directly to the bar and then begin having conversations with friends.  After all, no one ever walks in the doors of a fundraising event and immediately begins shopping. This only occurs on “Black Friday” at 4 a.m. when the doors open at Best Buy.

Now, here’s a really big tip.  Place your best silent auction items near the bar and/or where the line forms for drinks. This gives your guests something to do while they await their turn for the bartender’s attention.

Please understand that wherever you place the bar is the location where people are going to stop and congregate.  So, one bar located deep in the silent auction area is a great idea.

Also, if you have high tables set up for people to gather around – place their drinks – and converse with friends prior to the sit-down dinner – be sure to place those tables close to the silent auction tables. This makes it easier for people to bid on silent auction items. By the same token do not place these tables so close to the silent auction items that they interfere with the traffic flow of the silent auction.

silent-auction-animation1The silent auction should start the minute you open the doors to the venue but should only go on for an hour and a half. So if your event starts at 6 p.m. – the silent auction should conclude at 7:30 p.m. or before dinner. Never expect your attendees to go to the dining room and then get up and come back to bid more. The only people who do this are bargain shoppers.

During the time period of the silent auction it is perfectly acceptable to remind your guests about the auction items.  And it’s a good idea for effective board members of the charity as well as Event Chairs and other high-ranking event volunteers to work one-on-one with the guests.

But don’t do it the minute the doors open. Give your guests about 30 minutes to relax – have a drink – and converse with friends. Then let the “did-you-see-our-silent-auction-items” sales pitch begin.

And finally – if you’re an Event Chair or in charge of the silent auction DON’T PANIC if a lot of people don’t participate early in the silent auction.  My experience tells me the majority wait for the last 15 to 30 minutes to place their bids. That’s why it’s important to remind the guests about the silent auction while it’s going on.

It’s even more important to close the silent auction at the planned time. Deadlines create excitement and create a sense of urgency. More time does not equal more money.

 

Finish With A Flourish

Posted by Scott On April 17th

rock band

I’m going to guess that the majority of us have attended at least one rock concert in our lifetime. Of those I’ve attended, I’ve always noticed one thing – they always save their rockingest song for last.

I’m not talking about the encore – or encores as the case may be. I’m talking about the last song of their regularly scheduled set list.  The one that has all attendees on their feet – swaying to the beat – shouting at the top of their lungs – and clapping with unbridled enthusiasm as the band’s lead singer yells out: “THANK YOU AND HAVE A GREAT NIGHT!!!”

Rock bands always Finish with a Flourish. And so should your fundraising event.

This means your entertainment should be set up ahead of the event starting so they can hit the stage the second the live auction is completed and the thank you’s have been said. Nothing ruins the festive mood of an event like a momentum killer.

Here’s another way to look at it.

If you were watching the Oscars on TV and there was a 10 to 15 minute gap between an award presentation and the start of a live musical performance – and the camera stayed on the stage shot the entire time while they were setting up – you’d be thinking, “What the heck is going on?” You’d probably get bored – change the channel – or even worst – decide to go to bed.

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Transitional  momentum is key to having your guests enjoy the entire evening you took so long to plan.

With that said, if you are a reader of my articles and/or attend my seminars you know that I am a big proponent of saving the “thank yous” to the end. This can all be done while maintaining momentum.

So, let the appropriate people say thank you and let them count down the band. If the auction doesn’t have a band, the event still needs to end with a planned upbeat moment, such as playing energetic pre-programmed music.

Never end with a whimper. There’s nothing worse than having guests staring at each other with a “What’s Next?!?” look on their faces.

So Finish with a Flourish. And that means short but sincere thank yous followed immediately by the entertainment or upbeat exit music.

Either way the transition should be smooth and leave people feeling good about the event and the charity they just helped to fund. What doesn’t work is silence and confusion.

2013 – The Year in Review

Posted by Scott On January 2nd

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I am incredibly grateful and humble at the success of Scott Robertson Auctioneers in 2013. Being able to work with so many great people – at such great organizations – is a true blessing.

 

My motto is and always has been: “To help not-for-profit organizations – as well as schools – raise the necessary funds so they can continue their good work helping to improve the lives of those in need.”

 

The fundraising auction business is seasonal.  By that I mean it’s much like a school year since it spreads out over two calendar years – albeit just a 12 month period. With that disclosure here are the actual facts, figures and results of my 2013 charity fundraising schedule.

 

1)    72 fundraising auctions conducted

2)   59 of the 72 established new and historic fundraising records for their respective event

3)   Monies ranged from $11,000 to $2.5 million

4)   Longest single distance traveled for an auction was 2,600 miles – to San Diego

5)   Shortest distance traveled was a half mile (by boat) to Bert’s Bar in Matlacha for the “From Our Hearts” benefit

6)   $21,757,000 in live and silent auctions as well as Special Appeal.  That’s the total I helped to raise in my calendar year.

 

There were so many highlights throughout the year. Here are just four examples of the generosity of the attendees at four major events in Southwest Florida.

Winefest standing 2013

1)   The Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest in Fort Myers raised $2.5 million during the auction.  That total was matched ($2.5 million) by Joe and Mary Anderson of Benovia Winery. And the Anderson gift ($2.5 million) was then matched by Tom Golisano.  That made the grand total for the day – an incredible $7,500,000.

 

2)   The Conservancy of Southwest Florida “Magic Under The Mangroves” has emerged to be one of the country’s premier events. Event and Corporate Relations Manager Nikkie Dvorchak, and her team of professionals, continually pioneer new ideas and concepts in auction items, decorating, entertainment and food service – establishing new high standards for others to follow. This year’s event profited a record setting $950,000.

 

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3)   A private school in Tampa typically generated less than $40,000 during the Live Auction and Fund-a-Need part of its event’s program. After a little research, I knew there was great potential in both areas and laid out a game plan.

 

With the development office totally on board, the Live Auction and Fund-a-Need combined to yield just under $250,000 – or 6 times the school’s past fundraising effort.

 

The key to this event’s success was the total buy in from the development office and volunteers. Often change and a new way of thinking and executing a plan can maximize the final fundraising result.

 

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4)   The Immokalee Foundation (TIF) decided four years ago to take a different approach at their Charity Classic Gala. Louise Penta, a long time supporter of TIF and the chairman of the gala in 2010 said; “Scott, our donors don’twant or need any more stuff! They simply want to help the children of migrant farm workers break the cycle of poverty!”

 

This event now features a very small Silent Auction, no Live Auction, but an incredible Fund-a-Need of direct donations.  TIF even trademarked this technique “Fund-a-Dream” as these dollar fund the dreams of many needy children in Immokalee, Florida.  This year’s record setting event-when combined with Pro-Am Golf tournament and sponsorships-generated an amaing $1.7 million.

 

Congratulations to these four outstanding organizations.  I am so grateful to be their ambassador for the evening and facilitating the event they worked so hard and long on to make a success. It’s truly an honor.

"This is why we are here today". Scott with child artist Ella who is an alumni of the Golisano Children's Hospital NICU

“This is why we are here today”. Scott with child artist Ella who is an alumni of the Golisano Children’s Hospital NICU

 

Yes, I love what I as as a profession.  But my real joy comes from knowing the effort of the charity-along with a little guidance from me – will help literally tens of thousands of children and families – all across the nation – have better and more productive lives.  And you can’t put a price tag on that.

 

 

 

From $0 to $7,500,000 in Just One Afternoon

Posted by Scott On March 6th

 

 

Eight years ago, as the Benefit Auctioneer for the Southwest Florida Food and Wine Fest Auction, I helped to raise $70,000. At that

time, the organizers of the event were ecstatic in regards to the event’s success since it was the very first.

"This is why we are here today". Scott with child artist Ella who is an alumni of the Golisano Children's Hospital NICU

“This is why we are here today”. Scott with child artist Ella who is an alumni of the Golisano Children’s Hospital NICU

On Saturday, February 23, 2013, once again repeating my role as the Benefit Auctioneer, I was witness to an incredible and historic moment in the Food and Wine Fest’s fairly brief existence.

For the record – and to quote Walter Brennan’s character in the late 1960s TV series The Guns of Will Sonnett: “No brag – just fact!” I say that because at this year’s event a new fundraising record was set.  The total:  $2.5 million.  But that’s not where this story ends – nor the final total.

At the 2012 Food and Wine Fest $2 million was raised – which was a record at that time. So, two days prior to the event, Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane of Benovia Winery pledged to match the total if the upcoming event in 2013 achieved the same record of $2 million or better.

 At the end of the auction the tote board had amazing news!

At the end of the auction the tote board had amazing news!

Not to add any pressure on me and the organization, but four months prior to the event Tom Golisano had issued a separate challenge match as well. In fact, his offer – although presented earlier – matched the Anderson/Dewane pledge if the goal of $2 million was reached.

In other words, the raising of $6 million was a possibility.  We just had to cross the $2 mil mark first.

So, the “pressure-filled” afternoon was set.  And although the monies raised were going to assist the local Children’s Hospital Building Fund – the event got off to a bit of a slow start. The auction lots were selling well, but we were not on track to reach the magical number.

 

And then……the momentum kicked in.  Time flew by.  The crowd cheered.  Wine was consumed. I was doing everything but standing on my head.  And the next thing you know the final minutes of the auction were upon us as the last item sold for $150,000.  That brought our total up to $2,455,000.  We had exceeded our goal of $2 million. But, the crowd wanted to make a bigger impact for the Golisano’s Children’s Hospital.

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Scott going through a tunnel of Raven’s Cheerleaders.

Supporters and bidders cheering on the bidding of each and every item

Supporters and bidders cheering on the bidding of each and every item

So, within 45 seconds we were able to raise another $45,000 – thanks to several generous guests who despised that odd number and wanted the event to reach the once unthinkable, unimaginable plateau of an even $2.5 million! We made it!  WOW!!

Take the auction’s $2.5 million.  Add the individual’s matching challenge gift of $2.5 million.  And add in the matching challenge gift of $2.5 million pledged by the couple and that gave us a final-final total of $7.5 million. Not bad for an afternoon which start at $0.

I cannot think of a profession more rewarding than the one I chose.  And thanks to all those wonderful, generous attendees and the unfathomable generosity of the two very special donors for their matching challenge gifts – February 23, 2013 was not only a day to remember.  It was a day to celebrate – for the children.

Pairing Items with Needs

Posted by Scott On November 8th

“A question I am frequently asked is “what items should seek out for our fundraising auction”? The answer…..it totally depends upon the demographics of your attendees. Click on this link for a short video (1 minute) which will better explain my thoughts.

Scott

 

Scott Robertson Fundraising Consultants/Auctioneers

“For additional information on fundraising auctions and Scott Robertson Auctioneers, please visit his website“© 2012 Scott Robertson Auctioneers. All Rights Reserved. All content is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced in any form without express written consent of the author.

Ringman

Posted by Scott On October 16th

The Art of the Ringman

Benefit Auctioneers are comfortable in a room no matter the number of people.  However, that doesn’t mean they don’t need a little help on occasion.

Scott has a rule of thumb.  If the crowd size is 200 or less, he’s able to handle the auction depending on the configuration of the venue.  But for every 100 people above 200, he surrounds himself with expert ringmen. As an example, if the benefit auction had 500 guests, Scott would work with three ringman.  If there were 1,000 guests, Scott would have eight strategically placed around the room.

The ringman’s responsibilities are to observe the crowd and work with bidders and potential bidders, than pass that information to the benefit auctioneer through designated voice or hand signals.

A ringman’s job is not to just spot bids, but to solicit bids without being confrontational or offensive. That’s why Scott often prefers women ringmen at benefit auctions – a welcome change since most auctioneers and bid spotters are traditionally male.

A professional ringman also knows exactly where to stand as to not block the potential bidders’ view of the action – yet must always be within eyeshot of the auctioneer

And finally, bid spotters must develop a trust and really get to know the people in their section of the room.  Knowledge of the items up for auction is also crucial.  A quality ringman always completes his or her homework and is able to answer any questions coming from their assigned area regarding a particular item.

In large crowds, professional ringmen play an important role in the success of benefit auctions.  By connecting personally with the bidders and helping their bidding voices be heard, the ringmen help keep the momentum of the auction fast paced and exciting – and the charity comes out the winner.