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Fundraising Auctioneer

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Archive for January, 2014

electronic bids

In my previous blog I discussed the growing trend of utilizing an Electronic Bidding system during silent auctions.  I also talked about its current cost and discussed some of the pros and cons of using e-Bidding. Now, let’s delve into this subject a little further.

As I see it, the e-Bidding system does have some limitations. Here are a few.

1)   Your attendees have less “window shopping”. opportunities to see items that have a low number of bids.

2)   There is no bid sheet to see the items that are not getting much attention.

3)   With e-Bidding there is usually a list of items with no bids. But once the item receives a bid the attendee has to search for the item on the device to see the current price.

4)   The attendees have less interaction with other attendees and tend to stay clumped in groups with friends.

5)   The BANDWIDTH of the facility is CRITICAL. Depending upon the location there might not be enough bandwidth to support all of the mobile devices in a small area. If this is the case an auxiliary system is brought in by the e-Bidding provider to supplement the house system.

6)   Smart Phones and other electronic devices have limited battery life. This could create a problem if the bidding extends past 3 hours.

Here are some additional advantages to using the e-Bidding system.

1)   If the silent auction area cannot contain the number of attendees, this method allows them to make one pass through the silent auction area, determine the items on which they desire to bid, and then retire to a larger area to congregate and continue to bid.

2)   Attendees can chat with their friends and be notified immediately when they are outbid.

3)   Reconciling the silent auction is automatic as the bidding devices interface directly with most computerized auction software.

4)   Everyone automatically knows if they have “WON” a silent auction item.

pros and cons of electronic bidding

So now, let’s recap.  The main disadvantage of going to the e-Bidding system is the cost. Your silent auction should raise enough money to a good return on investment before considering making the change. Other disadvantages include: Older attendees tend to shy away from technology. It takes the human factor out of bidding.  And strolling past the item does not allow the bidders to see the popularity of the item.

The main advantage of going to the e-Bidding system is speed. This is especially true during “check out” since all the information is already interfaced with the computer. This is a big plus when your event has more than 400 attendees.

Now, I must give you fair warning. Electronic Bidding is fun and different.  And once you use e-Bidding you will likely have to bring it back year after year since your attendees will demand the service.

Feel free to contact me for additional clarification or for information regarding who provides this service. You could send me a letter – but doing it electronically will sure be a lot quicker.


© 2014 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.

The Pros and Cons of Electronic Bidding

Posted by Scott On January 23rd


pros and cons of electronic bidding

Anyone involved in fundraising is probably familiar with how a silent auction is conducted.  For those unfamiliar, guests go up to tables – grab a pen – and write down on a bidding sheet how much they are willing to bid on a specific silent auction item.  If another guest writes down a higher offer, the other bidders are able to revise their old bid.  At the end of the silent auction, the item goes to the highest bidder.

For many years the pen-and-bid-sheet method has proven to be both fun for the guests and beneficial for the charity.  But alas, the silent auction’s “pen and paper” days may be numbered.

Why?  Well, e-Bidding is beginning to infiltrate the world of fundraising.  Down the road, a few years in our future, it will probably be commonplace. As for now, charities will need to decide if utilizing Electronic Bidding is right for their event – and especially – their guests.

There are advantages and disadvantages of using e-Bidding, which is typically done on Smart Phones or the Apple I-Touch. The purpose of this blog is to discuss the pros and cons in an effort to allow charities to determine if e-Bidding is a good fit.

pros and cons of electronic bidding-fundraising auctioneer

Let me start by saying that e-Bidding is not a fad.  It is the future of silent auctions. However, at this time, e-Bidding may not be a practical or effective fundraising avenue to travel down. That’s because the largest objection to Electronic Bidding is the cost.

I have no doubt that the pricing is destined to be reduced as technology increases and more vendors get in the game. So for now, here are a few factors I feel must be in place before a charity decides to invest in electronic bidding.

1)   A charity’s silent auction revenues must exceed an amount which justifies the additional cost.

2)   The charity’s age demographic embraces technology. E-Bidding is not difficult, but some attendees resist anything related to technology.

So, who loves e-Bidding?

1)    Attendees in the 20s and 30s love the use of technology in the silent auction.

2)    Tech-Savvy individuals who always buy cutting edge technology.

3)   Males who hate to shop, but are competitive in nature.

4)   Individuals who like to win on eBay.

Who dislikes Electronic Bidding?

1)    Older individuals who did not grow up with technology.

2)   Individuals who purposely do not have Smart Phones.

3)   Sniper bidders who are always seeking a bargain and love to swoop in at the end of the auction to make a last minute bid. (This occurs sometimes after the bidding is closed)


In my next blog I’ll discuss the limitations of e-Bidding and the additional advantages and disadvantages of utilizing such a “high-tech” system.

In the meantime, I’ll grab a pen and a piece of paper – or should I use my I-Phone – to jot down a few other factors that might help you in your “should I” or “shouldn’t I” decision. Until then…






Expectations of the Front Man

Posted by Scott On January 16th


expectations of a frontman-fundraising auctioneer

I often refer to a professional benefit auctioneer as the “front man” of an event.  Sure, I am the host and chief money-raiser, both rolls by the way which I cherish tremendously.  But, I’m also so much more.

In fact, I often think of myself as an on-course official at a professional golf event whose sole job it is to monitor a player’s or group’s “pace of play!” Those officials are out there to assure the daily schedule is adhered to and that everything runs on time, as smoothly as possible, without feeling rushed.

I do the same as a professional benefit auctioneer. But, rather than constantly watching a timepiece – I trust my inner clock – my instincts – to keep the event moving along at the pace the guests expect.

Let me state emphatically – Pace is Crucial. Here’s why!

When attendees pay large money to participate in an event – they have the expectation the event will flow along in a smooth and effortless manner. One must remember, these VIPs are often heads of corporations, major local business owners and other “movers and shakers” within the community. Their businesses are well-oiled machines.  And they expect the fundraising event to be the same.

So please remember, the minute your attendees walk through your gate – whether it be a door or an opening to a fashionable tent – their time is valuable.  So keep your event paced from start to finish.

Now, here’s another piece of advice. At the beginning of this Blog I said I was the “front man” of an event. If you’ll notice, I never used the word “Star” and never have used the word “Star” to describe my role.

In fact, I am not the star of any event I host.  That title goes to your attendees – and they should be treated as such from the moment they arrive to the moment they depart.

The bottom line:  Your event should flow along in a smooth and effortless manner. Anything else makes your guests uncomfortable and they can easily start to wonder – “If the event is disorganized and has minutes of hesitation and large gaps of indecision – how is the organization or charity we are supporting run.”

And treat your VIPs like – well – VIPs. By doing both, your financial goals will not only “stay on pace” with your expectations – but exceed them.




 © 2014 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.

2013 – The Year in Review

Posted by Scott On January 2nd


I am incredibly grateful and humble at the success of Scott Robertson Auctioneers in 2013. Being able to work with so many great people – at such great organizations – is a true blessing.


My motto is and always has been: “To help not-for-profit organizations – as well as schools – raise the necessary funds so they can continue their good work helping to improve the lives of those in need.”


The fundraising auction business is seasonal.  By that I mean it’s much like a school year since it spreads out over two calendar years – albeit just a 12 month period. With that disclosure here are the actual facts, figures and results of my 2013 charity fundraising schedule.


1)    72 fundraising auctions conducted

2)   59 of the 72 established new and historic fundraising records for their respective event

3)   Monies ranged from $11,000 to $2.5 million

4)   Longest single distance traveled for an auction was 2,600 miles – to San Diego

5)   Shortest distance traveled was a half mile (by boat) to Bert’s Bar in Matlacha for the “From Our Hearts” benefit

6)   $21,757,000 in live and silent auctions as well as Special Appeal.  That’s the total I helped to raise in my calendar year.


There were so many highlights throughout the year. Here are just four examples of the generosity of the attendees at four major events in Southwest Florida.

Winefest standing 2013

1)   The Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest in Fort Myers raised $2.5 million during the auction.  That total was matched ($2.5 million) by Joe and Mary Anderson of Benovia Winery. And the Anderson gift ($2.5 million) was then matched by Tom Golisano.  That made the grand total for the day – an incredible $7,500,000.


2)   The Conservancy of Southwest Florida “Magic Under The Mangroves” has emerged to be one of the country’s premier events. Event and Corporate Relations Manager Nikkie Dvorchak, and her team of professionals, continually pioneer new ideas and concepts in auction items, decorating, entertainment and food service – establishing new high standards for others to follow. This year’s event profited a record setting $950,000.



3)   A private school in Tampa typically generated less than $40,000 during the Live Auction and Fund-a-Need part of its event’s program. After a little research, I knew there was great potential in both areas and laid out a game plan.


With the development office totally on board, the Live Auction and Fund-a-Need combined to yield just under $250,000 – or 6 times the school’s past fundraising effort.


The key to this event’s success was the total buy in from the development office and volunteers. Often change and a new way of thinking and executing a plan can maximize the final fundraising result.


2013-11-16 19.51.04

4)   The Immokalee Foundation (TIF) decided four years ago to take a different approach at their Charity Classic Gala. Louise Penta, a long time supporter of TIF and the chairman of the gala in 2010 said; “Scott, our donors don’twant or need any more stuff! They simply want to help the children of migrant farm workers break the cycle of poverty!”


This event now features a very small Silent Auction, no Live Auction, but an incredible Fund-a-Need of direct donations.  TIF even trademarked this technique “Fund-a-Dream” as these dollar fund the dreams of many needy children in Immokalee, Florida.  This year’s record setting event-when combined with Pro-Am Golf tournament and sponsorships-generated an amaing $1.7 million.


Congratulations to these four outstanding organizations.  I am so grateful to be their ambassador for the evening and facilitating the event they worked so hard and long on to make a success. It’s truly an honor.

"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


Yes, I love what I as as a profession.  But my real joy comes from knowing the effort of the charity-along with a little guidance from me – will help literally tens of thousands of children and families – all across the nation – have better and more productive lives.  And you can’t put a price tag on that.





Several Blogs back I discussed the usual mistakes a volunteer auctioneer makes during the course of a fundraising event.


At this time I’d like to list three addition mistakes a volunteer auctioneer often makes and then expand on each one.  The three are:

1)    They don’t know when to say “SOLD”

2)   Their performance is not smooth.

3)   They don’t understand bid increments.

As for not knowing when to say “SOLD” – well – this usually comes from their inexperience.

They either wait too long – which drags out the event – or they have what is known in the auction business as “a quick hammer.” By that I mean they say SOLD before getting to all the money that was available for the item being auctioned off. Knowing when to say SOLD is crucial to the charity’s fundraising effort and only comes through years of experience and the ability to analyze an audience.

Choose Your Fundraising Auctioneer Carefully

The second item on our list deals with performance. I’ve been a witness to the performance of many volunteer auctioneers who were anything but smooth and polished.

The performance of the auctioneer is crucial. A non-polished one adds length to the event, and is more often than not, painful to listen to and watch. The guests paid good money for their tickets and they expect professionalism throughout the entire event – especially during the live auction. I often say a charity won’t hire an amateur garage band as the entertainment so why did it hire an amateur to lead their critical fundraising effort.  It simply doesn’t make sense.

And finally there’s the subject of bid increments. Volunteers usually have no idea what those increments should be. And if they do, they generally cannot adjust on-the-fly which is often needed in the heat of aggressive bidding.

Recently I watched a volunteer start the bidding of an item at $1,000. The next logical increase was $2,000. Instead volunteer asked for $1100. The item evidently sold for $5,200 which was great, but it took a long time to get there in $100 increments.

to helm and back-Scott Robertson Auctioneers

A volunteer auctioneer also lacks the pace necessary to move the auction forward.  A professional will always be able to sell more items in a shorter period of time without the attendees feeling rushed. The profit of just two additional items may make a major impact in terms of profit for the event.

There is a big difference between and volunteer and a professional auctioneer. To me the choice is clear. It all comes down to if a charity wants to gamble with the success of its event.