Twenty years is a long time to be in the same business. Some people may burn out being in a position for such an extended period of time.
I, on the other hand, wake up every day with an unbridled enthusiasm and a passion to – not only get the day going – but to fine tune and review the details for an upcoming auction which I was contracted to host.
I also enjoy assisting other fundraising auctioneers and event chairs from around the country that have called or emailed me regarding a specific question that arose during the planning of their event. I’m honored to help out any way I can.
I take my job – my career – as a Professional Fundraising Auctioneer very seriously. I do it because I truly love what I do.
But, what matters most are the charities and the amount of money they raise during an event. There’s no better feeling in the world than to help make life a little easier for those who need the help the most.
Don’t get me wrong. I realize some charities feel they can’t afford a professional benefit auctioneer. They believe a local celebrity, a local politician or even a volunteer from their organization can handle the demanding duties of being the host and play the role of auctioneer for an event.
I’ve seen some succeed. But, I’ve also seen a great deal more fail, all at the detriment of the charity. The main issue – they didn’t take the role perhaps as seriously as they should. So, what did they do wrong? Here are a few examples.
1) Should the volunteer auctioneer’s performance is less than stellar, the charity has no recourse because the volunteer auctioneer is not getting paid. (Generally the charity is grateful he or she showed up at all.) Event organizers tend to “walk on egg shells” when dealing with higher profile volunteers. That tends to add to the problem since the volunteer auctioneer never receives any real feedback on their performance.
2) They are often focused on doing what they always do in their normal life and don’t take the time to prepare and complete the background work needed prior to an event. When the decision comes down to “Should I work on my business item or on the charity for which I am donating my time” – guess which choice wins.
3) They often arrive late after the doors are opened for the event, ask for a list of the items, then the microphone and rely on their “personality” to carry them through. If they do several events per year, they and their family are likely tired of giving up their prime evening time for no compensation. This makes the event becomes less fun for them and more of a responsibility. The less time they spend on and at the event the less pain for them and their loved ones.
4) A common volunteer auctioneer tactic, provided they know people in the crowd, is to call attendees out by name and shame them into bidding. Certainly knowing the attendees is a good thing. But, calling people out to bid……. tacky, which can silently backfire on the organization.
5) When the auction chairman says “We have spent so much on food, drinks, venue, flowers, decorations, entertainment, etc – so we need to cut back somewhere.” So, the one person, the professional fundraising auctioneer, who can most significantly and positively impact the net revenues of the event, is eliminated in favor of non-profit generating items.
The 5 examples listed above relates to less money for the charity. In the beginning, the “free auctioneer” may look great as a line item on the event budget. But the reality is many more times than not they actually cost the charity in terms of lost revenue.
In a future Blog I’ll expound on this subject with a list of additional mistakes a volunteer auctioneer makes.
Until then, when it comes to naming who you’ve selected to be your event auctioneer, take all these factors into consideration. A mistake could cost your charity – well – serious cash.
© 2013 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.