Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Archive for May, 2012

A few blogs back I talked about the importance of saying thank you to attendees and major donors during and immediately after a benefit fundraiser as they exit the venue.  But, it’s also crucial and beneficial to say thank you days or weeks following an event.

In 1839, English author Edward Bulwer-Lytton wrote, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”  So here is a tip you should “ink” about doing – writing Thank You notes.

Although sending a thank you note is always a great follow-up – a second tier of sincerity and appreciation for the attendees generosity, what they really want to know is; “Was the money put to good use?”

If the money was donated for a specific cause, send a Thank You note to the person or persons that gave and confirm their money has indeed changed lives.

As an example, if donors gave so underprivileged children could have access to new computers, write to the donors and tell them the computers have arrived – are now in place – and the children are beginning to benefit from them. And don’t be hesitant to send along a photo

If the total amount raised during a benefit isn’t known until after the event send Thank You notes to all attendees informing them of the event’s successful.  Everyone wants to be part of a winning team.

And don’t forget to send Thank You notes to those individuals and companies that gave items to be auctioned off.  They often receive high praise and recognition as they give – but are often left out of the post-event Thank You loop and may never know what their donation really meant to the success of the occasion.

Remember, a verbal thank you is great to hear.  A written thank you is even more noteworthy.


Friday Night “De” Lights

Posted by Scott On May 24th

If you are going to conduct a fundraising event on a Friday night I have three words for you. THINK HAPPY HOUR.

Unlike any other day of the week, Fridays lend themselves to be an automatic fun fest. The work week is done.  Everyone is in a positive, party-frame of mind.  People tend to have more energy than a Saturday night.  They are looking for an easy place to escape and reward themselves for their hard work.

Some may pop by their house to change.  Others may come as they are.  Either way, have a cold drink ready for them the minute they walk through the door.

Make sure your doors are open by 5:30.  And be sure to wrap it up by 8:30 or 9.

Although some may need to run home to relieve the babysitter, others will be in the mood to continue the festivities. Don’t let this opportunity slip by.

Prior to your event check out the local establishments within walking distance of your venue.  Approach the owner, explain your event, and ask if they’d like to host the post-party.  What owner wouldn’t welcome a throng of new patrons just willing to spend more dollars?

If they agree to “host-the-post”, don’t be afraid to hit them up for a donation item to be auctioned off at your event.  This mutual business agreement could be the start of a long business relationship.

Give Thanks to Those who Give

Posted by Scott On May 17th


I cannot think of two words – placed back-to-back – that have more positive impact than Thank You.  They are heard on a daily basis and in all kinds of settings.

Just the other day I held the door open at a convenience store as a lady was walking in.  She gave me a warm “Thank You.” Even the cashier at my favorite supermarket thanked me for stopping by.  Simply stated – a thank you means a lot.

As a professional benefit auctioneer, I thank each winning bidder as I close down one item and head to the next. But the Auction Chair, CEO and other key people within the organization should stand in the corridor that leads out of the building to personally shake hands and thank the people for attending and their generous bidding.

Now, how about a surprise thank you?  Have your parking valets place chilled bottles of water in the cars for your guests to enjoy on their way home. Chocolates are also a nice thought, but only if the temperature assures the tasty treats won’t melt.

And don’t forget to thank the businesses which donated items for your auction.  During the event encourage your guests to patronize these businesses and say thank you – and make sure they mention they say the item at the auction.  Not only is it the right thing to do – it will also help the following year when you return to that business and ask them once again to donate an item.

As for Thank You notes – well – they too are crucial when it comes to showing your appreciation.  I’ll tackle that subject in a future Blog.  But, if you need to know now call or email me.  I’d be happy to pass on a few tips.

I’ll conclude for now by simply stating:  “Thank You can never be said too much.”  So, to all of you, Thank You.  Your enthusiasm encourages me to work harder every day.

My Auction Day Routine Part 2

Posted by Scott On May 8th

In the last blog we talked about my day leading up to a live auction.  I told you how I prepare.  What I review.  When I eat. What I load into my car.  What I do on the way to the venue. And then I stopped at my arrival.  So, now let’s continue my journey from the first hello to the final thank you and goodbye.

By the time I arrive at the venue I pretty much have my game face on.  I know what I need to do.  I know who I need to meet prior to the live auction.

But, the first major item on my agenda is the all important – in fact crucial – sound check and meeting with the sound engineers.  Unless they are totally in sync with me – and know the program from start to finish – the auction will not have the professional atmosphere I demand and that could reflect on the charity’s bottom line.

After coordinating the sound check I meet with the volunteers and other staff members who will be working with me, especially the recorders, clerks and bid-spotters.

30 minutes before the auction begins is ME TIME. I don’t want anyone to talk to me unless it is absolutely necessary.  This is when my final game face goes on and I totally focus on the task ahead – the charity that is depending on me to deliver – and the families my effort will help.  So please.  No idle chit-chat.

With 10 minutes to go – I like to be alone. I need to review my final preparations.  I need total focus. I need my head clear.  And then, the adrenaline begins to flow.  I’m getting amped up. I’m being introduced.  I’m walking into the room.  I scan the crowd quickly.  And think to myself; “Hello folks.  Game On!”

From here on out – it’s all fun.  All the preparation, work, meetings, phone conferences, research and planning comes out as the first auction item is revealed and doesn’t stop until the last one is sold.

When the event concludes and the attendees begin heading toward the exits – with adrenaline still high – I make a point to personally thank every major bidder as well as the organizers for the event.

As the ambassador for the organization, at least for that night, I feel it is my responsibility to shake every hand I can – and in return – help those high-bidding heroes bond tighter with the charity.  I don’t do this out of obligation, but rather as a heartfelt thank you.

Occasionally, a well-intended person will approach me after the event and say, “WOW. You make pretty good money for just an hour or two of work!”  I simply smile and respond, “Yes, I do.”

But, as they walk away I reflect on the past 6 months or longer that I’ve worked with the charity.  All the meetings.  All the phone calls.  All the planning. All the detail.  And, as those “well-intended” walk out the door I smile and think to myself, “If they only knew!  If they only knew!”

My Auction Day Routine (Part 1)

Posted by Scott On May 1st



It’s been 20 years since I started my career as a professional benefit auctioneer.  I’ve learned a great deal from the nearly 1,000 auctions I’ve hosted.  Come to think about it, it’s probably over 1,000.  Either way, lots has changed.  I’ve grown older.  Events have become more frequent and the charity’s goals have increased right along with the need.

But, there is one thing that hasn’t changed – my routine.  Oh sure, I’ve made a few minor adjustments.  But overall, it’s been the same since day one.

I compare an auction day to a game day. Although I have been preparing for a particular auction for months ahead of time, my game day preparation is unique compared to other benefit auctioneers.

When I wake up my first thought is; “I have an auction today”.  I know the charity.  I know the cause.  Even with that I still review my notes on the charity.  I want to refresh my memory of the organization and the items that are going up for auction.

I also review my notes meticulously – looking for every detail – every word mentioned from previous meetings with the auction chairman and/or committee.  I want to make sure I know the challenges of the past and contemplate strategic solutions – and then write those solutions down on paper so I don’t forget to share them with those involved once I get to the venue.

Reviewing the entire event in my mind is the next step.  I think about pacing.  I mentally picture where I will be in the venue at various times. And, if I’m made aware of the potential larger bidders – the most generous of the generous – I go online to try to learn more about them so I can address them directly in a knowledgeable way.

Music is a crucial element of the production of my live auctions. I confirm the music list matches the compact disc I created previously and the cue points are all exactly where I want them within a song.

Once that task is complete I go through my checklist to make sure I have all the items I need for the event and then load them individually into my car.  That checklist includes everything from extra batteries for the microphone to cuff links for my tuxedo.  Every item, no matter how small, is crucial for a successful presentation.

Now, it’s time for a little relaxation.  I like to work out by swimming, running or lifting weights. If I have a work out partner I let them know I will not be talkative unless it has something to do with the auction. This is something my wife Mary is used to.

After exercising I usually have something to eat, depending on the start time of the event.  If the fundraiser begins early evening I prefer to have a late lunch.  I need to fuel up so my energy level remains high every minute I’m on stage or running around the room.

As for transportation, if I’m driving I turn off the radio and focus.  During this time I talk to myself by practicing introducing the auction items and other emcee responsibilities.  If I’m in the air, the private flight also provides time to reflect thanks to autopilot and my flight instructor of seven years, Rhonda.

With the day behind me I arrive at the event and……..!  Well, what happens next will be discussed in the next blog.  But, I will give you a little clue – my focus intensifies.  Stay tuned.