Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

The Virtual Fundraising Gala

Posted by Jessica Geer On March 17th

By Scott Robertson

Thanks to Sara Rose Bytnar and I being in a close network with some of the top fundraising auctioneers in the country, I’ve been able to spend my waking hours learning all that I can about virtual galas. As we know, information is constantly emerging and flexibility is key in situation such as this.  Here is what I know as of today, March 17, 2020.

These are strange times for our nation.  Many fundraising galas have cancelled or postponed their events as advised by government officials.   If your organization is wondering how you’ll be able to continue funding those you serve with a postponed or even cancelled fundraising event, I encourage you to consider a Virtual Fundraising Gala.

This method may not work for every organization and their supporters, however it’s an innovative way to keep your organizations cause at the forefront of your supporters minds during these unsettling times.

Below are a few tips for conducting a Virtual Fundraising Gala.

Event Details

  • If possible; keep your event date. Your philanthropists have already obligated themselves to the date and changing the date could create additional issues for scheduling.
  • Be decisive – decide on a date, a format, a theme, and stick with it. Just like a traditional gala be expecting suggestions and quick criticism for any and all decisions. Changing your mind to fit committee members whelms based upon what they think may be a good idea will add confusion and in stressful times, no one likes confusion. These are uncharted waters which we are attempting to navigate and everyday/hour we are learning more and more. At Scott Robertson Auctioneers our full focus is formatting plans to help our clients anyway and every way we can, including Virtual Fundraising Galas
  • Prepromotion and email marketing prior to the event is critical, be sure to include specific instructions on how to bid and participate. Social Media is perfect for communicating with your philanthropists.
  • Encourage watch parties to gather friends and supporters in small groups together to watch. This will make it more fun for the viewers as well as help to increase the feeling of comradery to support the cause. If appropriate encourage the watch party participants to come in gala wear and share photos from their gatherings with hashtags created for your event.
  • Remember, even in Florida, people can still get “cabin fever” due to the shutdown of any sort of group gathering. A watch party can be an event people can look forward to attending
  • Delivering party favors, gift bags, or gala beverages etc. a few days ahead of the event will keep the event date foremost in their mind.
  • Stay in contact with your donors. Calling, emailing, or using social media to communicate with your donors, especially a few days before the event, is paramount to success.

Technology 

  • Back of the house video and audio support is critical. Enlisting the help of an experienced team of AV professionals that have the equipment and expertise for live streaming will be worth their weight in gold. Yes, you could do this on your iPhone or android but why take the chance?
  • Broadcast sound, while this is dependent in large part to the users internet strength and speaker grade but the broadcast quality going out will only further enhance or decrease the ability for the viewers to hear. If viewers can’t hear we’re likely going to frustrate and loose them.
  • AV Company can use live shots, recorded videos, power point slides, etc., to promote and discuss live auction items on the live stream and special appeal.
  • Make sure that everyone has a list of phone numbers to call if they are experiencing technical difficulties. Every cell phone in the studio audience should be available for ppl to call in if they’re having challenges.   This is another good reason to have a good AV company in studio.

 

The Broadcast

  • Someone needs to be the director/producer for the broadcast. They make are the decision maker and are charged with keeping the broadcast flowing
  • For live streaming there are several choices, the ones I’m aware of are  Facebook Live, Youtube Live, Vimeo, WebX or other webinar hosting platforms. Additional hosting sites are coming up daily as they retrofit to be useful for virtual galas.
  • You need to have a place to create a studio. It’s likely affective to use pipe and drape in the background. You may already have a “stand and repeat” banner you had planned to use as a backdrop for photos. Your AV company should be able to provide this in additional to other equipment such as lighting, microphones, audio mixing boards, video switching devices, and most important; the knowledge to tie all of this equipment together to make it work.
  • A studio audience is a must. The studio audience should consist of a core group of staff and supporters (team members) i.e. auction chairs, development director, CEO and other known staff that would normally be supporting your gala. This studio audience will be helpful for your emcee and auctioneer  to work in front of.  Late night talk show hosts go into millions of homes but thrive on having a studio audience of 100 or so people so the on-stage talent can have a better feel for timing, laughter, etc.  Here, of course, our studio audience would be 10 or less.
  • The on-air personalities will need confidence monitors to monitor on line bidding, what the live audience is seeing, and what is coming up.
  • Latency – that’s the delay that you have with live streaming. For some providers it’s 10 sec others its 30 seconds. This eliminates the ability for the auctioneer to utilize the live auction chant. This technology is likely to get better but for right now we just have to plan that there is going to be a delay.
  • Encourage the studio audience to engage with the program; applaud, laugh etc.
  • The broadcast should be fun and interesting. This is where your professional fundraising auctioneer will shine.  They know the language, they have no fear of being in front of a camera or large group. They know what to say, and when (and how) to say it.   Other people can be and should be included but be sure to leave the heavy lifting of fundraising predominantly with your fundraising auctioneer.
  • An emcee is needed to keep things flowing, make announcements, and banter with the auctioneer.
  • “Instances” is a live streaming term that essentially means, each viewing element is an instance. The auctioneer, emcee, PowerPoint slides, videos, sponsor slides are all instances. Remember the more instances you have the more opportunity to have something mess up.
  • Good chemistry between emcee and the auctioneer is important for purposeful and humorous banter. The folks watching at home will be quick to pick up if there is tension on the set.
  • Many of the same things you would do at a traditional gala (as far as production goes) will hold true for live streaming. Such as testimonials either live or pre-recorded on video, entertainment, other videos, PowerPoint slides, etc. Just do not make your production too complicated.
  • Remember, when you’re live on air, you’re live. So, practice, practice, practice!  Even with all of our new found technology it is important to practice exactly how the virtual gala will run start to finish.

 

Mobile Bidding

  • Using a mobile bidding platform is a must.
  • Use a platform that has expertise in this area not just the lowest cost option. I’ve communicated with many of the mobile bidding companies and ALL are racing to develop a better platform for virtual galas, but as of today it seems that Greater Giving is leading the way.
  • The mobile bidding platform would be utilized during the silent auction. You should close the silent auction before the live auction so they don’t compete. 
  • The paddle raise/special appeal portion can be done starting at high numbers and working our way down, just as a standard in person gala.
  • Matching gifts are especially helpful at virtual auctions.

As with every fundraising gala, challenges will arise.  However, with the right team, equipment and fundraising auctioneer on your side, a Virtual Gala can provide needed funds to support the organization’s beneficiaries and remind donors why their support is needed now more than ever.

Questions?  Visit our website for more information or contact us, we’re ready to help!

From the planning stages of a fundraising event right through the actual event itself everyone knows their specific role. The Event Chair knows his or her assignment, as do the Chair’s committee, the volunteers and even the auctioneer.

The group which often seems the most confused as to their role is the members of the Advisory Board or the Board of Directors of the organization. I hope this Blog clearly states what their responsibilities should be and explain why they play such a crucial role in the success of a fundraising event.   

Let me begin by saying, as a former member of several not for profit boards, I know the Board Members put in their time and energy throughout the process of putting an event together. Although their input is welcome they should allow the Event Chair to make the final decisions. In addition, Board Members should not expect to receive complimentary tickets to the event. They should pay for the tickets in support of the cause just as the attendees do.

As for the event itself, Board Members should not sit back as observers. They should be active participants with name tags, identifying them as board members, so the guests know who they are.

Now, here are the four stages of a fundraising event. We’ll discuss the role the Board Members should play in each stage following the list.

  • Pre-Arrival of Guests
  • Social/Cocktail Hour and Silent Auction
  • Live Auction
  • Guests Depart
  • Thank you calls after the event

Let’s begin with the pre-arrival of guests. The Board Members should not show up late. They need to think of themselves as volunteers and should be in place long before the doors open. They should ask the Event Chair if there is anything they can do to help since so many last minute tasks sometimes crop up.

As the doors open for the social hour and silent auction the Board Members need to split up and work the crowd. They need to welcome the guests they know and approach guests they don’t know. And since the social hour is often a networking event, the Board Members should introduce people they know to other guests in the room they don’t know. Or in other words, bring two “stranger parties” together. This creates a good feeling in the room – a sense of camaraderie. And since all fundraising events are all about emotion – the better people feel – the better time they’ll have and the more likely they are to donate – and donate significantly.

During the live auction Board Members should help set the tone for the event and be participants, not observers. This means Board Members should bid on items, especially at the start of the bidding process of each item, to help ignite excitement in the room.

Everyone in the room is observing the Board Members and if they don’t bid on items and participate in the fund-a-need the others in the room will feel the Board Members don’t support the “cause” so why should I.

When someone wins a bid it is perfectly acceptable for a Board Member to stand up, walk over to the high bidder’s table and congratulate him or her. I’m not saying walk way across the room and make a big scene “hey look at me” but rather Board Members should be sitting at tables in various locations throughout the venue and the closest member to the winner should take on the “congratulations” role. This creates excitement and even more important – makes the bidder feel appreciated.

When the auction ends and everyone begins to leave the Board Members should not be the first to the parking lot or valet line. Their role isn’t over.

Board Members should be assigned to the exit doors and valet line and personally thank each guest for coming. Some should also be present at the checkout line thanking the winning bidders again.

As the final guests depart the venue it’s also very important for the Board Members to approach the Event Chair and the volunteers thanking them for their hard work and dedication.

Nothing is more gratifying after a hard day’s work – or should I say hard year’s work – than a warm handshake, a gentle pat on the back and a few kind words. Showing appreciation is a confirmation that all their time, talent and effort was worth every minute of stress.

The next part is critical for the success of your future fundraising events. Make a list of sponsors, donors, bidders along with any other people who made your event successful. Distribute this list to key staff people and the board. Identify which staff person or board member is to contact specific people on the list and make these calls the day after the event.

The call does not have to be long, just show your grateful appreciation and in a timely fashion. Timing is critical as showing gratitude, while the event is fresh in everyone’s mind, making a lasting impression.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Fundraising events must be planned and executed with positive energy. And positive energy by board members is absolutely the catalyst to a fun, and more importantly, financially successful event.

The Day After an Event is No Time to Relax

Posted by Jessica Geer On March 7th

You just hosted a great event the previous evening. You feel really good. The event exceeded expectations for fundraising. Everything went smoothly. You’re feeling very proud of yourself and your team. And you should feel proud. Congratulations. That was a job well done.

However, if you’re thinking; “Now that that’s behind me I can take the day off to get some rest. I’ll deal with all those small details that we need to take care of in the next week or two. I deserve a little break.” Think again!

The day after the event there are two very important things that need to be done.

One is to write down everything that went well and everything that was challenging or needs improvement. This information will be revealed during the debriefing meeting that will be held in the near future and executed during next year’s event.

The second thing, and perhaps even more important, is to get on the phone and call the generous people who donated to your cause – who made the event so successful – and to say thank you.

It doesn’t have to be a long phone call. It doesn’t have to be from the CEO. It can be from volunteers. It can be from board members. It can be from almost anyone. Just call.

Remember, a timely phone call placed the day after the event is not interfering in your attendees’ lives – it’s going to make them feel very grateful for attending and giving. Pre-write the script and keep your thank you short. Have just a few talking points and remind them where the money is going. But most of all, just extend your gratitude.

We all know that everyone is busy and not always at home or in their office. This could mean your call will be forwarded to voicemail. That brings up the question; “Should I leave a message of thanks, or call the donor back at a later time and talk to him or her in person?” Now this answer may surprise you – Leave the Message.

Voicemails work even better to your favor because you’re going to be able to say what you wish to say and extend your gratitude, and it’s going to take less time. Leaving a voicemail is just as good as speaking with the person on the phone. Don’t be afraid to do it.

The important thing to remember is to extend your gratitude to the donors immediately the next day – while they still have the euphoria for giving. Two weeks down the road, your event will be a past memory.

And don’t ask them for their support next year, just stay in the present. Extend your gratitude for this year. If you do that, you and your charity will be viewed as people who truly care and are truly grateful.

So, write that short script. Then burn up the phone lines. If they’re not home, leave a message. It will pay off in dividends for years to come. And, hey, it’s the right thing to do.

 

Name Tags: An Easy Solution to a Registration Table Issue

Posted by Jessica Geer On December 14th

It’s really no secret; nearly everybody planning or conducting a fundraising event dislikes the registration process. From auction chairs, to event planners, to registration table volunteers. They all hate it.  Now, you can add one more group to that list – the guests. Especially your VIPs.

 Let me begin by saying – thank heaven for volunteers. In many instances they are the free wind that keeps the event sailing along. They also fulfill a key position that allows the event organizers and executive committee members to mingle with their guests.

 But, as much as we appreciate the well-intended volunteer’s participation, they often don’t know who the attendees are – especially when it comes to the top donors.

 Those top donors walk up to the registration table and are perplexed when the volunteer says, “Hello, welcome to our event. What’s your name?”

 That top donor will look at the volunteer and think to himself or herself. “What? You. Don’t. Even. Know. My. Name. Wow. I thought I was a VIP around here. Maybe I’ll give less if this is the way they’re going to treat me.”

 A VIP is exactly what they should be – and treated as – a V.I.P. So here’s a little tip that will make it so much awkward for your VIP’s and less awkward for the volunteers managing the registration table.

 On a table, just prior to the registration table, have a table with names tags on it, in alphabetical order. Encourage guests to pick up their name tag and put it on or place the lanyard around their necks prior to reaching the registration table.

 Now, when the volunteer looks up and sees them, they’re able to read the person’s name, and call them by name with a warm greeting. “Well, good evening Mr. and Mrs. Anderson. So good to see you here tonight.”

 To begin with, there is no awkwardness. Conversations start smoother. The line moves faster. And most importantly, the guest feels like a VIP and heads into the fundraising event feeling positive. It seems like a small thing, but believe me, it’s a big thing. And, it’s simple, fast, easy, and effective.

 Remember, a happy top donor, who is recognized and appreciated, is more likely to open up his or her pocketbooks a little wider. 

 

 

Throughout the years, I’ve found distributing bidding paddles at the registration desk can become a real hassle. Nobody wants to stand around with a cocktail in one hand, an appetizer in another, and a bidding paddle under their arm.  

Here’s what I recommend. Always assign tables and put the group of bundled paddles on the table with the bidding number and bidder’s name printed on each one, with the numbers and names matching your computer software. When the people sit down, they can unbundle the paddles and distribute to the right party.

Make sure this is done prior to the live auction beginning. This can be accomplished several different ways.

  • Have a few hand selected volunteers stop by each table, reach for the package of paddles/cards and say, “Welcome, we’re glad you’re here. Would you like me to assist you in distributing the donor paddles tonight?” Then pass them out. Hopefully the volunteers recognize many of the guests, which will help make this process smooth and simple.
  • You can incorporate the passing out of the donor paddles as part of the welcome speech. Just realize this needs to be done near the end of their remarks as passing out the paddles will create a slight disruption and increase the audio volume in the room. This is not a bad thing, just be prepared movement will occur and plan for it.
  • This is not my first recommendation, but it is an option. You can have your auctioneer make the announcement and facilitate the paddle distribution. One trick I use is to have a photographer in place and ask everyone to hold their paddle in the air so we can take a picture. Give a three-count, then snap the photograph. Generally, it takes three pictures to get everyone in the room.
  • Remember, you don’t want to slow down or delay the start of a live auction with people in disruptive conversations regarding as to who gets which paddle.

Charities often tell me, “But Scott, we don’t know if we can do that because we don’t know where they’ll want to sit.”  Chances are most of your tables are assigned and you know who will be seated at most tables, you just don’t know the exact seat location. And, that’s why you leave the paddles on the table and not on the seats. You want the head of the table to determine who sits where. Let me explain.

As a donor, if I bought the table and invited my friends, I’m going to expect to have the best seat at the table, which is the one facing the stage and auctioneer. If the table is round, those with their backs to the auctioneer have the worst seats. That is not where you want your table buyer, and usually, lead bidder sitting.

If you have a VIP purchase a whole table, a person I refer to as the “table captain”, get the name of the guests from the table captain and make little name tents, aka, place cards. Then place these small name tents in a stack on the table, but not in front of any seat.

Advise the table captains when they arrive, that at any time prior to the event starting, he or she can go to their assigned table and place the name tents in front of the seats where they want their invited guests to sit. Once the table captain performs that duty, the bidding paddles can be placed on the right seats.

An auction venue is not much different than a wedding. Name tents take away the confusion as to where people should sit. And strategically speaking, once you place them where you want them, there’s usually a symmetry to the room. Everybody knows where to go. Everybody knows where to sit.

Another added benefit is people will sit down quicker as they do not need to wait on their hosts and other people at their table to determine where everyone should sit, which can be a bit awkward.

Besides, people love seeing their name in print. They feel important. Empowered. And that usually means they’ll be lifting those bidding paddles with more enthusiasm.

Always remember, it is not what you say to your attendees, it’s all about how you make them feel. So, make them feel Loved. Wanted. Important. And, they will reward you with stronger giving.

Frightful Fundraising Tales

Posted by Jessica Geer On October 31st
In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d share a frightful tale of a fundraising event gone wrong.
I decided to attend a high profile fundraising event as a guest with a good friend of mine.  I was there as a guest because the organization had decided to use a volunteer auctioneer to ‘save money’.  Upon arriving, we were  immediately confronted by two ‘greeters’ who were selling raffle tickets. We were told we could buy one ticket for $5 or 3 tickets for $10 and once we purchased a ticket we’d receive a blinking light up pin so that no one would attempt to sell us any additional tickets.  The scary part was the first impression.  Instead of being greeted and seated, we were confronted and intensely encouraged to purchase these raffle tickets that were being sold for very low  prices. This took away from the elegance and overall feel of the evening.  We came out dressed in black tie attire ready  to donate to a great cause but when we arrived it felt more like a fair when the game leaders are trying to get you to play their game; “3 tries for $5!”
Putting this aside, my friends and I found our table and sat down. The event décor was well done, with the exception of the centerpieces.  We would’ve been seated to have a great view of the stage, but the centerpieces, though beautiful, were tall and bulky and obstructed the view for a few people at our table.
And then the live auction began.  The volunteer auctioneer, I’m sure had the best of intentions by donating his time to be the auctioneer at this event. However, he had no auctioneer experience.  The bidding for each item started off at $100, regardless of if it was a bottle of wine or a weekend get away.  This caused the bidding to get stale quickly.  There was even a point where someone bid $1,500 on a piece of art work and then called the auctioneer over to whisper in his ear.  The auctioneer then announced that the current high bidder had resigned his bid, therefore the piece would sell for $1,400.  We were within earshot of the person who bid $1,400 and she wasn’t happy.  She felt if the other person has resigned their bids, she should get it at the price she bid before the resigned bids came into play.  For the remainder of the night this guest did not raise her hand to bid again, nor did anyone at her table. The live auction had 7 items and took almost 2 hours.  People seemed bored and not at all engaged.
The special appeal came next.  As it began, people were raising their hands and pouring money into the need of the charity.  But then, dessert was served; during the special appeal!  Needless to say, the donations ceased because people were distracted by the wait staff and the delicious dessert in front of them.  There was a lot of money left on the table because of a distracted audience.
These are just a few of the points that stuck out.  So, please, unless you’re going for a frightening theme, remember these tips when hosting your next fundraising auction:

 

1.  First impressions are important and set the tone for your event.  When guests walk through the door, remind them why they are there and make them feel appreciated for attending.

 

2.  Hiring a fundraising auction professional is a no brainer.  In this case, the organization thought they were saving money by using a volunteer, but they left a huge amount of money on the table by not having someone who knew how to engage the crowd and effectively run the live auction and special appeal.

 

3.  No distractions during fundraising.  It is important, especially during the special appeal, to keep your audience engaged.  Wait staff walking around and food being placed on tables is an easy way to loose your audiences’ attention fast.

 

Want more information on the do’s and don’t of fundraising auctions?  Contact me and let’s discuss all the ways you can make your next event a great success! 

Hiring an Auctioneer is Not a Full Committee Decision

Posted by Jessica Geer On August 14th

Classical Greek philosopher Plato once said, “A good decision is based on knowledge and not on numbers.” As a professional benefit auctioneer, I could not agree more. 

Throughout the course of the year I’m contacted by various charities and organizations searching for a fundraising auctioneer. When the decision maker makes the call and signs the contract everything moves smoothly along.  Where the system bogs down is when I hear the words, “I’ll need to present your credentials and agreement to our full committee and will get back in touch with you.”

The decision regarding who to hire as a fundraising auctioneer should never be delegated to a full committee. Sure, it sounds great and wonderful to have everyone aboard, but the problem is, “too many cooks spoil the broth.

Recently, the Executive Director of an organization wanted to hire me for their upcoming fundraiser. The Event Chair also wanted to hire me. But both wanted to get everyone on the full committee to agree.  When you bring in a lot of people a number of issues pop up, many of which are unfair as the auctioneer is not present to answer the question and resolve the concern.

Based upon feedback I hear the top three issues that arise during the full committee meeting are:

1)  Someone will say “we are all volunteers, we shouldn’t have to pay for an auctioneer/consultant.

2)  Some committee member says “I saw someone who did a really good job at the _______ gala. I will get more information on that person and present it to the committee”, thus delaying the decision until at least the next meeting. (Do not be surprised when this committee member forgets to get the information and delays things even further.)

3)  Another committee member says “I know someone with a great personality, and is really funny, who might be willing to be our auctioneer.

This list could go on and on as suddenly the committee is more concerned with price than with performance. They forget the decision should always be based on ROI, return on investment.

So, from the time the charity or organization first contacts me to the time they get back to me with a decision weeks may have gone by. During this waiting period, a different group not only contacted me, but signed the agreement to hire me, which left me no other choice but to tell the other group, “Sorry, but I’m already booked.”

I learned from the past – I can’t hold dates for organizations. When full committees get involved in the decision process, precious time is lost, and that often results in disappointment.

The solution is simple – the decision to hire an auctioneer should be made by a steering committee of two or three people – but no more than five. This steering committee needs to take the lead and make the decisions so everything is handled efficiently and effectively. These are the people that deal with the consulting portion of the auctioneer services for the months leading up to the fundraising event. The full committee needs to trust those in the steering committee to make the executive decisions.

Everyone has an opinion.  But like I said in the beginning, “Too many cooks….”   

 

Do you have additional questions?  Contact Scott today!

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!