Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Supportive Bidders

Posted by Scott On November 21st

supportive bidders-fundraising auctioneer

At any live auction there are usually three types of supporters in the crowd.  The first is a guest who feels the price of admission was enough charity and doesn’t plan to bid on any item.  The second is an enthusiastic guest that has money in his pocket and is willing to bid as high as necessary to get an item and help the charity in the process.  The third is what I refer to as a “supportive bidder.”

Supportive bidders are there to have fun. And, they are there to help the charity maximize its fundraising effort by bidding on items simply to get the price of the item up.

I’m not referring to a “plant” or a “shill.”  A charity should never place a person in the room whose only purpose is to compete with other bidders with the intention of never actually winning a bid.

A supportive bidder does this on his or her own accord. They are really “soft bidders.”  By that I mean if they bid on an item and would happen to get it they are happy.  But, their real purpose is to make more money for the charity by getting others to bid higher – especially if they feel the current bids are below the items true value.

fundraising auctioneer

An auctioneer often doesn’t know who the supportive bidders are until the live auction actually starts. However, by reading a bidder’s body language and mannerisms a professional benefit auctioneer can spot them rather quickly and use them to the charity’s advantage.

When bidding on an item is slow or if a current bid is far below what I think an item should sell for I find myself drifting towards the supportive bidders as a means to get the ball rolling a little faster – and the bids a little higher.  I think most of the time they know that I know what they are doing and they usually play along.

So remember, no “plants” or “shills.” But keep in mind supportive bidders are in the room and can play a key role in your fundraising success – if the auctioneer knows how to spot them – and use them for your benefit.

 

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.

Musical Chairs

Posted by Scott On November 14th

 

musical chairs

A few days ago a strange, but an absolute right-on comparison popped into my head and I thought I’d share it with you today.  A fundraising gala – that has both a silent auction and a live auction – is much like a game of musical chairs. You weren’t expecting that comparison where you?! But, hear me out.

During an event, with both a silent auction and a live auction, there is a time when your guests should be on their feet and a time when they should take a seat.

Let’s begin with the silent auction. This is the time of the event you want your guests on their feet.  You want them to be mobile so they can walk around and mingle – preferably bidding on the silent auction items.

It’s alright to have a little bit of seating for those who have difficulty walking or standing, but place the seating in the corners of the room and away from the silent auction area.

bb-fn12hi

 

However, you can have tables near the silent auction area, but they should be high cocktail tables with NO bar stools. This will give your guests a place to rest their drinks and chat with those immediately around them without them sitters.  Remember, once a person sits they tend to protect their “real estate” and not move from their seats. Keeping them standing or walking around the silent auction tables will result in higher revenue being generated for the charity.

With that said, it’s just the opposite during a live auction. You want everyone seated – no movement.  This will keep your guests focused on the PowerPoint presentation containing the live auction slides, the auctioneer, and especially the items being auctioned.

It’s much like a high school football coach, when near the end of practice, he tells his players to take a knee as he goes over today’s practice and what they can expect at this week’s game.  By doing this the coach knows he’s taller than the players – and he has the stage.  It also assures no player’s view is blocked and his message will reach everyone within listening distance.

If your guests are walking around the room where the live auction is being held they create a disturbance and the others in the room lose focus. A loss of focus is a loss of revenue.

 

This is one of the primary reasons not to have a buffet at your fundraising auction. Whenever possible choose the sit down dinner

So keep them standing when they should be standing.  Keep them seated when they should be seated. At the end of the day your bottom line will thank you.

Supportive Bidders

Posted by Scott On July 26th

supportive bidders

At any live auction there are usually three types of supporters in the crowd.  The first is a guest who feels the price of admission was enough charity and doesn’t plan to bid on any item.  The second is an enthusiastic guest that has money in his pocket and is willing to bid as high as necessary to get an item and help the charity in the process.  The third is what I refer to as a “supportive bidder.”

Supportive bidders are there to have fun. And, they are there to help the charity maximize its fundraising effort by bidding on items simply to get the price of the item up.

I’m not referring to a “plant” or a “shill.”  A charity should never place a person in the room whose only purpose is to compete with other bidders with the intention of never actually winning a bid.

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

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

A supportive bidder does this on his or her own accord. They are really “soft bidders.”  By that I mean if they bid on an item and would happen to get it they are happy.  But, their real purpose is to make more money for the charity by getting others to bid higher – especially if they feel the current bids are below the items true value.

An auctioneer often doesn’t know who the supportive bidders are until the live auction actually starts. However, by reading a bidder’s body language and mannerisms a professional benefit auctioneer can spot them rather quickly and use them to the charity’s advantage.

When bidding on an item is slow or if a current bid is far below what I think an item should sell for I find myself drifting towards the supportive bidders as a means to get the ball rolling a little faster – and the bids a little higher.  I think most of the time they know that I know what they are doing and they usually play along.

So remember, no “plants” or “shills.” But keep in mind supportive bidders are in the room and can play a key role in your fundraising success – if the auctioneer knows how to spot them – and use them for your benefit.

thanks

One of the first blogs I posted on my website had to do with the subject of saying “thank you.” The focus of that blog was when to send a follow-up thank you to your event’s VIPs and largest, most generous contributors.

If you will recall, the answer was within days. Any thank you that arrives after that time frame seems like water under the bridge since too much time would have elapsed and memories of the event begin to fade.

In this blog I want to discuss saying thank you during an event.

 

party-hostess1Although every guest should receive a warm welcome and feel as if their presence is very much appreciated – the verbalization of a thank you carries a much heavier weight and is much more appreciated by your guests when it is spoken immediately after the fundraising portion of the event.

Avoid saying “thank you” at the beginning of an event.  And avoid saying “thank you” during the middle of an event.  Overdoing those two words early on is like adding water to soup – it dilutes the power the words and those words will have less meaning when they’ll really mean the most.

Wine Fest 2010 222

My philosophy is:  “Welcome – and away we go with the auction.”  Nationally this is a fairly new trend – but it has proven to work.  So, save every “thank you” for the end.

And don’t forget – a nice thank you goes great with a strong, sincere handshake or a warm hug – when appropriate. It’s not only the perfect combination to end the night – or day – but it will help build the foundation for the guest list for your next year’s event.

Now that I’m done with this blog – may I just say “thank you” for reading it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moves Like Jagger

Posted by Scott On May 2nd

Moves Like Jagger

My performance – or mannerisms on stage during a live auction have been called “larger than life” by those who hired me to be their benefit auctioneer, as well as those guests in attendance.   I’m honored with each and every comment I receive, although the truth be told – I cannot take all of the credit.  Some of it must go to Mick Jagger.

Yes, you read that right.  Mick Jagger. Let me explain.

In 1978 I attended my first Rolling Stones concert. Since then I’ve attended at least 10 other Rolling Stones concerts – both in big and smaller venues.  And, here’s what I noticed.

_7644755329

While performing in a larger venue, Mick’s gestures – his mannerisms – were larger, more exaggerated. While performing in a smaller venue, his mannerisms were more subdued – but still right on cue.

It didn’t take me long to realize why this was occurring. Mick wanted to make sure that even the audience members – sitting in the seats furthest away from him – got to experience his performance just as much as those sitting up front near the stage.  The further those attendees sat – the larger his gestures.

Now, here’s something else I noticed.  Mick always wore pants with an elastic waistband.  The reason?  He often slipped his hand-held mic in the waistband, although unnoticed by the crowd, so his hands were free to gesture to the audience – and get them more fired up.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to wear pants with an elastic waistband.  I work totally from a headset microphone so my hands are always free.

I do however gesture – using both arms – with a specific focus in mind. These purposeful gestures help me better communicate where the bidder is seated – the amount I’m asking for – and sometimes simply to animate a point I’m trying to make.  These mannerisms help keep the attendees engaged – brings emphasis to what is being auctioned off – and adds a fun and exciting element to the benefit.

So, at your next fundraising event be sure your emcee, host or auctioneer keeps your guests entertained and alert by being animated on the stage or in the audience as he or she moves around.

Remember, a Rolling Stone gathers no moss.  That’s because acting like a Rolling Stone will keep the event moving and the attendees more attentive.

exchanging packages beneficial for charities

Oh the holidays.  The time of year you exchange presents – wrapped packages if you will – with family and friends.  The feeling you get when you give.  The feeling you get when you receive.

In this case, however, I’m not talking about exchanging Christmas packages, but rather auction packages.  Let me explain.

I live in Southwest Florida and work with many outstanding charitable organizations in the area.  It’s easy for us to put together a package of goodies that focus on sun, sand, and water to be auctioned off.  We have access to Gulf-front hotels, superb restaurants, fun fishing charters, private world-class golf courses and excursions through the Everglades National Park. Yes, it’s paradise.

That’s the good news.  The not-so-good news is “we live here.”  These are things we can do every day.  But, these are not things the residents of our northern states have access to on a daily basis.

Exchanging Packages Beneficial For Both Charities

Now reverse the situation.  A charity in Wisconsin, as an example, has access to a luxury cabin in the woods on a lake, with fresh water fishing right outside the door, a hillside golf course just miles away and fine restaurants scattered about the historic old town just down the road.

If this package was auctioned off in Wisconsin, it probably would not garner a great deal of excitement since this is something many of the residents of the state can do on a regular basis.

So I propose a trade.  An even swap.  Place the Wisconsin getaway package in a Florida benefit auction and place the Florida getaway package in the Wisconsin benefit auction. All you need to do is find a willing trading partner.

So, how do you locate such a partner?  If you are a Florida charity concerned about environmental issues locate a similar organization in Wisconsin. If your group raises money to fund children’s programs contact groups in Wisconsin with the same cause.

It may take a little time to locate the right trading partner – but when you do you will discover it’s a win/win/win situation. Both charities have fresh “getaway packages to exciting destinations” to auction off and that will bring in more money to the charity’s bottom line.

“Instant Purchase” Option Gaining Popularity  At Silent Auctions

More than a year ago I released my Top 14 Tips on how to make a silent auction run smoothly – and profitably. I’m happy to report I just updated my Top 14 list by adding another important tip which will surely add to a charity’s or organization’s bottom line.

 

That important 15th tip deals with the option of “Instant Purchase.”  As many of you know, during a silent auction attendees monitor items during a period of several hours and continually up the bid if someone has outbid them.

 

Instant Purchase is just that – Instant.  It allows bidders to purchase a silent auction item instantly at a predetermined price.  The price should be decided for each individual item base on perceived popularity.  The general rule of thumb is to price the item at 150% to 200% of the item’s retail value.

 

As an example, let’s say the silent auction included a family ski vacation with a retail value of $5,000. A guest could instantly purchase that vacation for $7,500 or $10,000.  Another prime example is a strand of pearls. After the wife hints she really likes them the husband purchases them at the marked up price and takes them off the market. It’s a win-win situation as the husband doesn’t take the chance of being out bid and the charity sells the item more much higher than retail.

 

It’s important to note that not all silent auction items lend themselves to the “Instant Purchase” option. Those items are the ones that have no definite retail price or are not normally sold in the retail marketplace.

For example, a celebrity wine dinner or a class project constructed by the 2nd grade at a school auction.  A week stay in a mountain cabin owned by a friend of the charity but is never available for rent also would not qualify.

 

The bidders who enjoy the instant purchase option are generally male who simply do not want to continually monitor the silent auction sheets, but prefer to buy the item at the inflated cost which affords them the opportunity to hang out with their friends at the reception.

 

So, the next time you are conducting a silent auction, don’t forget to make some of the items up for bid available through the “Instant Purchase” option.

 

And don’t forget about my other Top 14 Tips.  Check them out by going to my website, www.thevoe.com.

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.

_5235392161

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.

I Love Homework- No really, I do!

Posted by Scott On February 7th

2011-11-09 14.15.26

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“© 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.

An In“Vest”ed Interest

Posted by Scott On November 26th

I’ve often said, when it comes to live auctions, you never know what is going to take place. One must stay on his toes.  One must be willing to act and react quickly no matter the circumstance that arises. In one such case, I had to give the shirt off my back

Well, it wasn’t my shirt, but another article of clothing that I hold very dear to my heart – one of my signature, colorful vests. My trademark

The incident occurred recently during a fund-a-mission for a private school looking to raise money for financial aid for students. The event was going along as planned when suddenly a voice in the crowd yelled out, “I’ll donate $5,000 to the school in exchange for your vest.”  Without hesitation I unbuttoned my jacket – and then the vest – and handed it over to the gentleman who made the generous offer

As I started to walk away the same gentleman asked, “What about the matching bow tie?”  Turning back towards him I replied, “That wasn’t part of the deal” – which made the guests in the room laugh as they waited for a response

“Alright,” the vest-holding donor said, “I’ll donate $2,500 more for the bow tie.” Which, of course, I promptly removed and handed to him much to the crowd’s delight

That night an extra $7,500 was raised for a great cause.  One of the guests went home with a vest and a tie.  And I went home with my suitcase just a little bit lighter.

I’m just glad he didn’t ask me for my shoes.

 

 

 

For additional information on fundraising auctions and Scott Robertson Auctioneers, please visit his website.