Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Archive for July, 2013

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.

HandShake, Rattle & Roll

Posted by Scott On July 18th

fundraising auctioneer

I’m often surprised by the number of people who know my name.  I’m not talking about colleagues. I’m referring to people who I might know casually or meet on occasion.

The manager of a local Fort Myers, Florida restaurant is one good example. The minute I step in the door she greets me with a warm smile, sometimes a handshake, but always with the words, “It’s good to see you again Mr. Robertson.  Welcome back.”

I have to be honest with you.  I think I only introduced myself to her once several years ago. Yet, she approaches me like a long lost friend. And that does something to me that makes me feel good about being there.

In this day and age of high-tech gadgetry – where emails have replaced the personal, handwritten letter – and the art of face to face conversation has been reduced to text messages or a ‘tweet’, it does the heart good to know a simple greeting – that includes an actual name – can change a person’s total disposition.

Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than at a charity fundraising event.

I’ve always encouraged the event chairs I work with and every charity VIP to know who will be coming through their event’s door. This is easily done by simply studying the guest list and then actually greeting the guest as they arrive – by name.


I’ve stood near these greeting lines on occasion and have watched faces turn from “We’re here – what do we do next?” to “What a nice hello – and she knew my name!” Their smiles said it all.

And for lack of a better phase – it made them feel important. This is even more true when the people being greeted by their names bring along friends that are unknown to the charity’s members. This scenario really boosts the ego of those who are known while at the same time makes their guests feel as if they are attending the event with VIP’s themselves.

But don’t forget.  Even an unknown guest should be greeted warmly.


The bottom line: Know your guests by their names – and greet them with a warm handshake.  This will put them in a positive and happy frame of mind and they’ll be more eager to rattle cash out of their wallets and purses.  And of course, that means there will be an increase in the charity’s bankroll.


Attitudes Are Contagious

Posted by Scott On July 11th

attitude is contagious-fundraising auctioneer

Attitudes at fundraising events are contagious. These attitudes start at the top with the Chairperson and trickle down to every volunteer and staff member associated with the event. And attendees take notice. Whether verbal or non-verbal, guests unknowingly process the attitudes and the actions of the staff and often adjust their attitude accordingly. This is often referred to as “the vibe”. And as you’ll discover – nothing brings more money in than a positive vibe.


Recently I had lunch with a professional colleague who happens to be in the marketing/public relations field. During our hour-long meeting the subject of negativity in daily conversation came up.  After citing a few examples of the “downer dialogue” he’s heard throughout his career he looked at me and said, “You know Scott, I always tell the ‘downer dialoguers’ the same thing. Negative feeds negative.  Positive feeds positive.”


I couldn’t agree more – especially when you are in a benefit auction setting.

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Throughout my career I’ve heard my fair share of “downer dialogue” at fundraising events – much of it by well-intended event chairs, amateur auctioneers and guest speakers.  The charity’s story – as well as an explanation for why the charity needs to raise money should be told.  But the message should always be positive and uplifting – not depressing.


The reason is simple.  The guests are attending your event because they want to support the charity and donate to a great cause.  But, they also want to have fun. Negative energy can deflate the “fun balloon” faster than a sharp, 4-pronged pitchfork.


The solution is also simple. Be prepared.  All of your guests should know about the charity, its cause and need for money long before they even arrive at the event. That means the minute they walk through the doors they enter an atmosphere filled with fun and positiveness. If the doors to the event are scheduled to open at 6 p.m., EVERYONE should be in position – relaxed – and with a smile on their face at 5:55.

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Every charity representative, every volunteer and every staff member should also permeate positive energy. Smiling faces.  Warm handshakes and hugs.  Light, upbeat conversation. Displaying genuine gratitude for the attendees’ participation.


So at your next event think fun. Think Positive. Remember, happy guests tend to donate more. And that’s something for which I’m positively positive!”