Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Archive for May, 2013

Space Invaders

Posted by Scott On May 30th

space invaders-fundraising auctioneer

We’ve all heard the phrase, “personal space.” Wikipedia defines personal space as “the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs.  Most people value their personal space and feel discomfort, anger, or anxiety when their personal space in encroached.”

Who of us have not felt the discomfort of someone invading what we perceive as our personal space?  And what distance from a person is that border – that invisible fence – the stay-this-far-away-from-me property line? It’s not an easy question to answer since – to be totally honest – it really varies from person to person.

That’s the dilemma professional auctioneers and other benefit hosts face during a fundraising event.  They are constantly asking themselves, “How close can I get to a bidder without making him or her uncomfortable?”

I wish I had a definitive answer.  I can only tell you that you have to be constantly aware of a person’s body language. You must know how to read their signs.  And then hope that your “I’ll-pat-you-on-the-back” or your “stay-this-far-away” calculations are correct.

“Instant Purchase” Option Gaining Popularity At Silent Auctions

My experience tells me the more fun a person is having the closer you can approach them.  Those that are having fun – and enjoy being the center of temporary attention – usually don’t have a problem with an auctioneer being by their side. In a way, having the emcee of the event near or in their personal space, helps to shine a brighter light on the bidder.  They truly enjoy the spotlight and their participation adds to the fun factor and entertainment of the event.

On the other hand, some bidders prefer to remain hidden in the shadows and are uncomfortable with any notoriety. Again, by reading their body language – if you feel any negative vibes – if he or she avoids eye contact – you should instinctively stay a distance away.

Every crowd is different and every person is different.  Defining a person’s personal space – their approachability – takes keen observation.  It’s a skill that can be learned, but it does take time. Remember, “When in doubt – from his or her personal space stay out.”

In a future blog we’ll discuss another dilemma that faces a benefit auctioneer – when to push or not push a bidder to a higher bid.


  © 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.


Treat Your Celebrity Talent as A VIP

Posted by Scott On May 23rd

treat your celebrity talent like a vip-fundraising auctioneer

At many local fundraisers you’ll see local TV news anchors and reporters assisting the charity – by not only promoting the event on air – but by participating in the actual event itself. Since they are easily recognizable personalities their presence automatically increases the significance of the event in the minds of the other guests in attendance.

That’s why I have two basic rules when it comes to local TV personalities who volunteer their time to join you at your worthy cause.  1) Treat them like a VIP. 2) Make it as easy for them as possible.

Since many fundraising events start in the early evening hours – and the news anchor or reporter will be arriving late due to the fact they just got done with their early evening newscast – have a reserved parking space for them as close to the venue entrance as possible. An orange cone is always an easy target for them to spot and it reserves the parking space.


Keep in mind – if you don’t have a reserved parking space for them they end up parking in the last spot in the lot because they’ll probably be the last to arrive.  They’ll also have to walk the furthest once the event is over. So keep them close – even if you do offer valet parking.

Here are several more helpful hints on how to treat your local celebrities.

Make sure they receive an auction catalog ahead of the event.  This will give them time to study it at their leisure.

Upon their arrival they should be greeted by a charity representative and handed a 3-ring binder with the auction items, notes and timeline clearly spelled out – with their portion highlighted.

And don’t forget to give them a pen to write with or a bottle of water to refresh them.

The celebrity should be escorted to his or her table – preferable as close to the stage as possible.

Time is a precious commodity for everyone. Typically when a celebrity is donating their time, a 2-3 hour commitment is the expectation on their part. If their presence is needed for a longer period of time, this should be discussed in advance.

And finally, present them with a gift card at the end of the event. Remember, not only are they donating their time and talent, but they do have expenses such as travel, hiring a babysitter and buying new clothes – to name just a few.

So treat your local VIPs like the celebrities they are.  Their presence will boost your exposure and make your guests feel they are hobnobbing with TV stars.

My Not-So, Laugh-In Moment

Posted by Scott On May 9th

my not so laugh moment-funraising auctioneer

Having grown up being a fan of the old TV show “Laugh-In”, I was very excited for the opportunity to work as a co-auctioneer with one of its stars, Lily Tomlin. The event was “Arts for ACT” a significant fundraiser for the Abuse Counseling and Treatment Center in Fort Myers, Florida.  The venue was the Harborside Event Center and more than 1,200 attendees were present.


I found Lily to be a wonderful, down to earth, funny-as-hell personality.  She was a joy to work with.


At this particular auction, due to the large number of items up for bid, the organizers decided to have two professional auctioneers take turns selling 10 items at a time. When I was not calling the bids I was able to converse with Lily and point out particular individuals in the crowd for her to “pick on” via the microphone.


When we were about two-thirds of the way through the auction she turned to me and asked if I thought it appropriate if she had a gin and tonic. I explained to her that the way she had endeared herself to the crowd I didn’t think she could do anything wrong.



So off the stage we went walking, arm in arm, toward one of the cash bars set up to serve the thirsty auction attendees.


I was feeling pretty proud of myself – to be escorting such a well-known celebrity in my hometown – and having the privilege of buying her a drink.  But, my pride quickly turned to panic as I suddenly realized I had no money in the pockets of my tuxedo.


Fortunately, as we neared the bar I saw the manager of the event center, a man I had worked with on numerous occasions in the past, and quickly introduced Lily to him.  As they shook hands – and without missing a beat – I said: “Wouldn’t the Harborside Event Center like to buy Ms. Tomlin a drink?”


What a relief when I heard the reply, “Of course we would!”  Whew. I was off the hook.  And ever since that near “Laugh-In Disaster Moment” I always keep a bill in my pocket when I’m on the stage with celebrity co-auctioneers.

 © 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.

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.


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.