Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Archive for December, 2014

One of the greatest joys of being a parent is watching your children open their presents on Christmas morning. The looks on their faces has to make you smile as their tear into the wrapped boxes and discover they got exactly what they wanted.


downloadSo how did the parents nail it?  How did they know what to get and who to get it for? The answer is usually pretty simple. Depending on the child’s age, they asked them directly or they asked them covertly in the months leading up to what many consider the “Happiest Time of the Year.”

This approach is the same approach Event Chairs or the Committee Members in charge of procuring items for a Live Auction should follow.

Your attendees are very strategic when it comes to bidding. Just because they want to support the charity and its cause does not mean they will bid on an item they don’t want. The truth is, they will only bid on items they want – and feel they will be able to use or enjoy.

So the goal is to find items for the live auction that match the wants, needs, interests and personalities of your guests.

But, how do you do that?  You ask!

Some prefer the direct route. “A couple wants to donate a trip for two for an African safari. Do you know of anyone who would have a specific interest in that?”

Some prefer the covert route. “I overheard a couple talking about an African safari they took this summer. Boy, it sure sounded like they had a lot of fun!”

Now the question arises – who do you ask?

Well, you don’t ask the people who typically don’t spend their money at your live auction because it won’t matter to them what’s up on the bidding block.

You ask those who do spend their money to support the charity.  They are the ones where it’s important to know what they are seeking and will be excited to bid on.

If you don’t want to ask your best supporters or donors directly or indirectly, you can always ask their friends or significant others. They are usually very willing to help out especially since their information is going to the advancement of a worthy cause.


As for what they want. They want trips.  They want experiences. These often come up as auction packages or consignment packages.

They also want consumable products. They generally are not looking for items that have to be stored for a lengthy period of time – although there are some exceptions to this rule.

So, the key to having a successful Live Auction at your next fundraising event is to have items your attendees not only want – but on items in which they are willing to bid high.

Knowing what your guests will bid on in advance – or will have a huge interest in – goes a long way in adding to your bottom line.  So ask the questions that need to be asked – and ask the right people. If they end up with the highest bid they just might be as delighted as a child on Christmas morning.


 Robertson is considered one of the premier professional benefit auctioneers working in the United States today.  In the past 20 years, Robertson has conducted hundreds of benefit auctions throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States and annually raises millions of dollars for a variety of not-for-profit organizations, schools and charities.

For more information about Scott Robertson of Scott Robertson Auctioneers visit his Web site “The Voice of Experience” at or call (239) 246-2139.

Investing in an Auctioneer

Posted by Scott On December 11th

You’ll have to forgive me while I go on a personal crusade for this Blog. But, the following situation arises on a regular basis and I thought it appropriate to talk about an important matter concerning the hiring or not hiring of a Professional Benefit Auctioneer.

Recently I was asked to send a proposal for my auction services to an organization that was in the planning stages for an upcoming event. I did just that and waited for a response.  And I waited some more.


Scott RobertsonEventually I took it upon myself to contact them – to follow up. That’s when I learned they indeed had received my proposal – which was good to know – and that the gala committee had reviewed my proposal. My contact with the organization went on to say that, “The committee decided not to use my services because they did not want to spend the money.”

When I heard those words I knew my proposal was presented inappropriately.  By the way, my least favorite word in that entire sentence was “spend.” I wanted to inform them there is a big difference between spending and investing.

Let’s talk about spending.  When you spend you are paying for something that eventually goes away – or at a minimum – depreciates. You spend money on food – it is eaten – it goes away. You spend money on fuel – it’s consumed – it goes away. You spend money on a new car – it depreciates in value the minute you drive it off the dealership lot.

Now let’s talk about investing. We invest in the stock market. We invest in education. When we invest money the expectation is that the investor will get a return.  It’s not always guaranteed, but the goal is to get a larger amount of money back than originally put out.

The hiring of a Professional Benefit Auctioneer should be looked at as an investment – and not an expenditure.

As for the organization I was dealing with, I asked, “Did you take my proposal fee and simply subtract it from the amount raised last year?”  Their response, “Yes.” To which I responded, “That’s not how my fee should be viewed!”

What they should have done is estimated how much a Professional Benefit Auctioneer will bring to the table – the added profit factor if you will – and then subtract the fee from the total.

The truth is I know how to bring in additional funds to an organization. When I don’t think I will be an asset to the group I am the first to tell them.


helpMy schedule is quite busy and can be selective as to which groups I want to work. And I only want to work with groups I think I can help.

If I feel my fee isn’t justifiable, I’ll tell the organization and try to find them a no-cost or lower-cost auctioneer. I do not want to cost organizations money – I want to make them money. I do not want to be something they spend money on. I want to be an investment – and a solid investment at that!

It’s all about the cause.  It’s not about me.

My disappointment with the organization I’m using as an example in this Blog has little to do with them not hiring me and everything to do with the fact their fundraiser will just remain status quo as they try to match the previous year’s take.

I know I could have helped them reach higher – been more profitable. But then on the bright side – there’s always next year.

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Posted by Scott On December 4th

Many times organizations have low expectations when it comes to the amount of money they might raise during their event. I have a pretty good theory why they think that way – fear of failure.

Event Chairs and his or her committee members feel if they set a high goal and don’t reach it they will be perceived as failures and the event will be perceived as a failure.  And as we all know, nobody wants to fail.

So what do they do?  Well, they usually stick with the status quo, repeat the past event, and pray and hope that they can match that which was raised the previous year – or at least get close to it.

This negative – or at minimum – neutral thinking doesn’t do the organization or its money-raising efforts justice. I say, “Reach High! Don’t Sell Yourself Short!”

In January of this year I wrote a Blog that focused on the fact 2013 was a record-setting year for me.  In all, I helped raised more than $22 million for charities all across the country.


Did I sit back and say, hey Scott, let’s see if you can tie that amount in 2014?  Heck no!  My goal was to exceed it and I’ve already accomplished that back in May. Organizations need to think the same way.

The hiring of a Professional Benefit Auctioneer is one way charities can reach higher when it comes to the amount of money they could raise. Yes that comes with a price tag. But my experience shows it’s worth it. As an example, every time I’ve been hired to host an event for the first time the organization set a new record.  No brag. Just fact.

After an event, I love it when the organizers say to me, “We never knew the room had that kind of potential.”  And I say, “The room always had that kind of potential.  It’s just a matter of extracting it.”

Everybody wants their event to grow. That might not happen in the number of attendees, but it can grow with the quality of attendees. And quality attendees translate into more dollars generated.

So here are four suggestions.

  • Figure out how to get the right people and charitable new individuals to the event.
  • Figure out how to get your current supporters to open their pocketbooks a little wider.
  • Engage the board of directors to be the leaders of giving and not merely attendees. Board members must lead by example if they expect others to give.
  • Secure items the attendees will want to purchase with competitive bidding.


This will occur by exuding quality, not only of the event and venue or the items to be auctioned off, but in the cause itself. Donors want to know their money is not only needed, but will be invested wisely.

Everybody can dream of reaching a new level and raising more money – but it’s the planning that will get them there.  Those that don’t plan or try to reach higher usually revert back to their “little cocoon of comfort” located in Status QuoVille.

Stay out of that town if you want to grow. You must remember, the more your event grows the more your organization can help the cause.

With a little positive thinking – a lot of planning – an abundance of quality – and maybe even a Professional Benefit Auctioneer to pull it all together – you’ll discover reaching higher wasn’t so much of a reach after all.