Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Archive for April, 2014




I mentioned in several previous blogs that keeping focused during the course of a live auction is one of my highest priorities.  That’s why around 20 minutes prior to an event I place myself in my “performance zone.”  I need this “alone time” to gather my thoughts and review the program in my mind.  Any interruption could derail all the hard work that started weeks or even months earlier.

What’s even a bigger challenge is to stay focused during the live auction when event chairs or event volunteers try to communicate with me.

During the live auction, my brain, like my vocal chords are racing at 100 mph. If someone attempts to talk to me – to give me a message during the live auction – one of two things happen.

  • My brain screeches to an abrupt halt forcing me to go off message as I search for an answer or response to the communication.
  • My brain continues racing along as I stay focused on the mission and unfortunately must ignore the message.

Neither option is productive to serious fundraising.

What I’m saying may make it appear as if I’m antisocial during the course of a live auction – or worse yet – a Prima donna.  Nothing could be further from the truth. The charity and I have but one goal – and that is to raise as much money as possible in a relatively short period of time. My preferred method of making that happen – limiting the number and timing of interruptions – helps me accomplish our mutual goal.


With that said, here’s what works for me and hopefully will help your emcee or auctioneer if and when these situations arise at your event.

I find if someone will write me a note, sticky note preferred, and attach it to my auction binder located at the podium I can read the note without derailing my thoughts or interrupting the momentum of the live auction.

This is why at each auction I request that one cool-headed person be designated as my contact. This gatekeeper will be the only person to share information with me. This makes for better productivity for everyone and will increase the results of the auction.

That which I just described is a controllable situation.

In my next blog I’ll discuss the uncontrollable – the unexpected situation – when a drinking guest interrupts the flow of the live auction by presenting what he or she believes is a “great idea.”

Here’s a hint!  There’s no easy answer. Until then…




Finish With A Flourish

Posted by Scott On April 17th

rock band

I’m going to guess that the majority of us have attended at least one rock concert in our lifetime. Of those I’ve attended, I’ve always noticed one thing – they always save their rockingest song for last.

I’m not talking about the encore – or encores as the case may be. I’m talking about the last song of their regularly scheduled set list.  The one that has all attendees on their feet – swaying to the beat – shouting at the top of their lungs – and clapping with unbridled enthusiasm as the band’s lead singer yells out: “THANK YOU AND HAVE A GREAT NIGHT!!!”

Rock bands always Finish with a Flourish. And so should your fundraising event.

This means your entertainment should be set up ahead of the event starting so they can hit the stage the second the live auction is completed and the thank you’s have been said. Nothing ruins the festive mood of an event like a momentum killer.

Here’s another way to look at it.

If you were watching the Oscars on TV and there was a 10 to 15 minute gap between an award presentation and the start of a live musical performance – and the camera stayed on the stage shot the entire time while they were setting up – you’d be thinking, “What the heck is going on?” You’d probably get bored – change the channel – or even worst – decide to go to bed.

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Transitional  momentum is key to having your guests enjoy the entire evening you took so long to plan.

With that said, if you are a reader of my articles and/or attend my seminars you know that I am a big proponent of saving the “thank yous” to the end. This can all be done while maintaining momentum.

So, let the appropriate people say thank you and let them count down the band. If the auction doesn’t have a band, the event still needs to end with a planned upbeat moment, such as playing energetic pre-programmed music.

Never end with a whimper. There’s nothing worse than having guests staring at each other with a “What’s Next?!?” look on their faces.

So Finish with a Flourish. And that means short but sincere thank yous followed immediately by the entertainment or upbeat exit music.

Either way the transition should be smooth and leave people feeling good about the event and the charity they just helped to fund. What doesn’t work is silence and confusion.

Temperature at your event is important

Posted by Scott On April 3rd


I received an interesting email a short while back. The subject matter dealt with the issue of room temperature. According to the email writer, he attended an inside, night event in Naples, Florida and soon found himself getting overheated since he was in a jacket and tie. He also stated several women sitting at the same table also felt uncomfortably warm.

However, he also mentioned that he overheard several conversations at nearby tables where several women, dressed in beautiful slinky gowns, were stating they felt a little chilly.

So, what’s an Event Chair to do?

Unfortunately for the men they should just grin and bear it since they are at a formal fundraising event. This is especially true when it comes to “Black Tie” events. Two coping mechanisms that I employ for my tuxedo are:

1)   Most of my tuxedos are “Tropical Weight Wool” which is much cooler than a traditional tuxedo.

2)   The tuxedo shirts I typically wear are made of microfiber. Microfiber shirts are thin, look good, are breathable and do not require starch.  I find the layer of starch acts as a vapor barrier, which creates more heat and makes the wearer uncomfortable.

As for the women – I always encourage them to bring a wrap. Yes, they want to look their best and often wear their finest dress – which are usually designed with very light fabric. A wrap is a great way to stay a little warmer if they get a little chilly. And it enhances their look – not detracts from it.

Now for my best advice to all Event Chairs regarding room temperature.

If you live in a warm climate or hold a fundraiser when it’s warm and muggy outside – be sure to turn the thermostat down at the venue’s location long before the first guest arrives.  Usually three to four hours ahead of time will suffice.

to helm and back-Scott Robertson Auctioneers

Once guests arrive their body heat will naturally warm up the room and this should keep everyone as comfortable as possible for as long as possible.  If you turn down the thermostat once everyone is present – it has a minimal – if any affect.

And finally, keep the venue’s doors closed as much as possible. The warm, humid air rushing in through the doors creates a challenging situation for the HVAC system.

Often times the hotel staff will prop the doors open when they are moving items in. And they usually leave them open until their job is completed.

Don’t be afraid to have a volunteer work the doors during this process so they stay closed as much as possible. Your guests will be not only thankful – but more comfortable.

I hope you find this helpful.  And keep the questions coming.



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