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Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Not All Items Belong in the Live Auction

Posted by Jessica Geer On April 6th

After 20-plus years as a Professional Benefit Auctioneer, I’ve seen charities and organizations make plenty of mistakes when it comes to the Live Auction portion of their fundraising event. Here’s one of the biggest:

Charities or organizations intentionally decide to have items in their live auction which they feel all attendees can afford.

You know the drill – putting three or four items up for bid, in the live auction, that will meet everyone’s price point. By doing this you probably feel better because now everyone can participate in the excitement and have the chance to take something home at the end of the night.

This sure sounds like a great idea. The problem is – come Monday morning – your bottom line will suffer.

You must remember, it takes as much time, effort and energy to auction low priced items as it does more expensive items – and for less money.

Here’s a great example –

You have a trip valued at $3,000 – $5,000 vs. an item in the $20,000 – $25,000 range. Even if the trip would get the top bid of $5,000 – the charity leaves potentially $20,000 on the table. Add that up three to four times during a live auction and you begin to see my point.

(For the record, at your event the “affordable items” may be $300-$500 with the “expensive items” going for $2,000. The percentages are still the same as will be your feelings on Monday morning following the auction.)

So, my recommendation is to put the high priced items in the live auction and place the lower to mid-priced donated items in the silent auction. This is a great way to appease your guests without deep pockets and get them involved.

Another way is to make sure the live auction is lively!  Just because a guest is not a bidder doesn’t mean they can’t have fun cheering on the bidders and watching the action.

 

Time is money.  So invest your Live Auction time wisely.

 

Selecting Consignment Items for Live Auctions

Posted by Jessica Geer On March 15th

One of the questions I’m most frequently asked is; “What sells best at a fundraising auction? We’re looking at consignment companies and want to pick items that are going to sell really well to our audience.” questioning-person

My answer is always the same. “It really depends on your attendees and the people you’re going to sell the items to.”

National trends, such as trips, don’t really help because they are specific to those who want to go. For instance, if it’s a trip to Hawaii and bidders have never been there they probably would love the opportunity. But if they have already been there on numerous occasions and don’t really care if they go back, they are more likely to bid on a trip to a different destination.

What was the number one selling auction item in 2015? Good tickets to see Taylor Swift. What are the hot trending items in 2016? The Broadway Musical Hamilton, Ticket to see an Adele concert and Pappy Van Winkle bourbon. What do all these items have in common…..scarcity and demand.

Here’s what I recommend you do. Ask your guests what kind of items they’d like to see. But be sure the attendees who you direct that question to will actually spend money at the auction. If someone suggests a trip to Ireland, but has no intention of bidding on the trip, don’t listen to them. It’s a waste of a your time and energy.

The people you do want to ask are those that have the financial resources and have historically been some of the best bidders and supporters of the charity over the years.

And don’t ask open-ended questions. They are too broad.

paradise

Rather than ask; “What kind of trips would you like to see in this year’s auction?”, be more specific. “If you had the opportunity to go, would you be more interested in a trip to Ireland, Italy, Greece or somewhere else?” That will get the conversation going. In fact, they might even give a clue where they’d like to go. “Those sound good, but I’ve always wanted to go to Mazatlan, Mexico to go sport fishing.”  Bingo. Now you’re onto something.

A follow up question could be, “Does that sound like a $10,000 trip to you?” Their response will give you the opportunity to gauge what you might expect to raise during the live auction.

Here are two additional questions you can ask.

“Is there anything you’ve seen at another auction that really interested you – because we really want auction items that will resonate with our guest?”

“Do you know of someone attending that has something on their bucket list – something that we might be able to offer them? When have great resources we are simply trying to find the best items for our attendees”.

The bottom line is, when you’re selecting items for your live auction, do your homework. Don’t just pick an item and hope that it will sell well. Know going into it you believe it will sell well and you have the people to back that up and will have interest in it.do-your-homework

So, reject items that will merely take up space and present only items that will sell and that match your clientele. And don’t be afraid to ask the important questions to make that happen. That’s the #1 job when you’re producing a live auction.

What to learn more about how to best work with auction consignment companies and which companies you can trust? Reach out to me at [email protected]

 

 

 

© 2017 Scott Robertson Auctioneers All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means.

2016; Another Record Breaking Year

Posted by Jessica Geer On February 24th

Well, another year has come and gone. And I’m happy to report 2016 was another record-breaking year for Scott Robertson Auctioneers.

We hosted 68 fundraising auctions during those 52 weeks.  And as New Years’ Eve turned into New Years’ Day, the combined total of those auctions reached $35,319,700. Our previous record, which was set in 2015, was just under $29,438,000.

When 2012 started, Sara Rose Bytnar and I had set a personal goal to raise $50 million for charities and organizations within four years. In March of last year, we crossed the $100 million mark. That doubled our original goal in just four years and three months. Here are the actual annual totals for the past five years.

2012 – $14,853,100

2013 – $21,757,360

2014 – $28,152,250

2015 – $29,437,980

2016 – $35,319,70

Total:  $129,520,390

 

Although we are proud of every auction we host, we are especially delighted in six auctions. They include:

  1. *$4,600,000 raised at the Sonoma Wine Weekend Auction, in Sonoma CA.
  2. *$3,205,500 raised at the Philbrook Museum of Art Wine Experience in Tulsa.
  3. *$2,800,000 raised during the Southwest Florida Wine and Food Fest in Fort Myers.
  4.  *$2,300,00 raised at the Immokalee Charity Classic in Naples.
  5.  *$2,057,000 raised at the FARA Energy Ball in Tampa.
  6.  *$1,200,000 raised at Magic Under the Mangroves for the Conservancy of Southwest Florida in Naples.

In addition to raising record-setting dollars, 2016 held some other highlights for Sara and I.

To start with, Sara competed in the International Auctioneer Championship, and was named First Runner-Up. In the world of auctioneering this is a huge honor.

I was selected to be on the Education Committee for the National Auctioneers Associations’ Conference & Show which will be held in Columbus, Ohio in July. I’m currently lining up presenters on my favorite subject – and passion – “How to Make the Most of Your Benefit Auction.”

In August, I presented at the Benefit Auctioneers Summit, sponsored by the National Auctioneers Association and held in San Diego, CA. One hundred twenty four of the top fundraising auctioneers in the USA attended this year’s event.  

Speaking of the National Auctioneers Association, at last summer’s Conference & Show, I took a 3-day course on Social Media marketing. The class dealt with Facebook specifically and was very educational. Sara had taken this class previously and convinced me of its importance. We are firm believers that you need to constantly be reinventing yourself by keeping up with the times. And you simply cannot ignore the impact social media has on today’s world. Even the world of Benefit Auctions.

And finally, I was selected to do 3 live webinars on the subject of Time Lines for Benefit Auctions. These webinars are co-hosted and sponsored by Winspire, a company that offers travel and trip experiences for auctions and other charitable events on a consignment basis.

My first webinar was held in December. It dealt with the subject of Silent Auction timelines and more than 650 people, from around the country, registered for it. On Tuesday, January 17, I’ll be discussing the topic of timelines for Live Auctions and on Tuesday, January 31, I’ll be discussing the topic of timelines for Special Appeals aka Fund-a-Need. Each webinar lasts an hour-and-a-half.

For more information regarding the webinars and to register to listen to them once they’re recorded and aired live, go to our website www.thevoe.com.

So, that wraps up 2016. It was a very rewarding and satisfying 365 days. But, a new year is now upon us. We have new challenges to meet. More money to raise. And more children, families, and animals to help.

 

 

One would think that, after helping to raise millions of dollars for charities in the past 9 months, Benefit Auctioneer Scott Robertson would unwind during the summer.  Kick off his shoes. And simply relax at his Fort Myers, Florida home.  

Well, that’s not Scott.  Instead, he’s spending his summer – his time off from his hectic auctioneering world – to guide hundreds of white water rafters down a fast-flowing river in what they often consider an adventure of a lifetime.   

According to Scott, being an auctioneer and being a white water rafting guide, his two passions besides his wife Mary of course, have many similarities.   

Scott’s career as an auctioneer began over 20 years ago.  But his love for the water – and auctions – started much earlier than that at his childhood home about 50 miles outside of Lexington, Kentucky.

“When I was seven years old I built my first wood raft,” recalled Scott.  “Ironically, that’s about the same age when I started attending farm and antique auctions with my parents. I guess it was destiny the two would meet later on in my life.”

Scott’s early adventures on Flat Creek didn’t stop at rafting. While fishing the swift and cold Kentucky stream he also learned about water flow by observing the bobber at the end of his line.

As often as he could he would be found floating on the creek or fishing from its bank, Scott spent just as much time with his dad, a farmer, and his mom, an antique storeowner, attending auctions.  That’s when he began appreciating the concept of the auction and the power of the auctioneer.

It was 34 years ago this summer when Scott first put his rafting skills and water current knowledge to the test when he became a rafting guide for Adventures On The Gorge on the New and Gauley Rivers in Fayetteville, West Virginia.

“Every summer I really enjoy hanging up my tuxedos and colorful auctioneer vests in exchange for a wetsuit and lifejacket,” said Scott. “I guide about 35 trips down the river during the rafting season.  But, that’s far fewer than the number of trips I take for the remaining nine months traveling the country as a professional benefit auctioneer.”

During one of his rafting trips last year Scott realized there were several similarities between his career as an auctioneer and his summer job, of being a white water rafting guide.

“The first thought I had when comparing the two was nervous energy,” said Scott.  “I always have nervous energy prior to an auction and prior to launching the raft.  Regardless of the number of auctions you conduct or trips you take down the river you are only as good as your next trip or performance.”

Another comparison can be stated in four words:  Living in the moment.

“It’s impossible to have anything else on your mind but the mission ahead when you are entering into a rapid or conducting an auction.  You must have total focus,” he said.  “And you must think two to three moves ahead – planning where you need to be and what you need to do to get there.”

Then there’s analyzing the audience.  According to Scott, an auctioneer must be able to size up the attendees at a fundraising auction to maximize the charity’s profit. The same holds true for those eight individuals boarding the white water raft.  The guide must be able to size up each passenger and play to their strengths to minimize their weaknesses.

The final two comparisons are Scott’s favorites.

“Everyone depends on my leadership role whether times are good or challenging.  As a benefit auctioneer you must control the action from start to finish. The organizers and attendees of the event depend me to take charge of the auction and see it through to a successful completion.

The same is true when I’m a white water rafting guide.  There is a trust factor and those on the raft must have total confidence that I’m going to get them down the river safely.”

Scott added, “Perhaps my favorite comparison deals with having fun.  Guests at a fundraiser want to have a good time and be entertained in the process.  The passengers on my raft want the same thing – to have fun.  There’s no better sensation than the “feeling of satisfaction” trip after trip or auction after auction.”  

Scott, who turned 56 a few months back, said he has no immediate plans to hang up his wetsuit any time soon.  In fact, he and his wife Mary, who he met while being a guide and is a guide herself, purchased 6 acres about four miles from the rafting company and relocated a 200-year old cabin on the site.

“This is my home away from home,” stated Scott.  “I still love white water rafting as much today as I did when I first arrived 34 years ago.” 

“It’s the same with auctioneering.  I think it’s even more fun now. I simply love the interaction with people, especially the event chairs when their fundraising goals weren’t just met – but exceeded.”

Scott concluded, “I have to admit, if I’m being honest, I truly love what I do.  Whether it’s being a guide on a white water rafting adventure or being the auctioneer for an important fundraising event – I love to lead.  You might say regarding both disciplines, I’m ‘SOLD!’”

 

 

What do NFL Kickers and Auctioneers have in Common?

Posted by Scott On February 5th

When the Game’s on the line – hire the best.

On the rare occasion I have a Sunday off I, like many people across the country, enjoy watching NFL football.  Ironically, one of the last games I watched I had an epiphany regarding the field goal kicker. I realized we had something in common.

The scenario was pretty straight forward.  If he made the kick his team would win the game.  If he missed – they would lose.                                                                                                        .football

If you think about it, in a game played within the regulation 60 minutes, the kicker may only be on the field for a maximum of 20 seconds actual game time.  That includes a few field goal attempts and points after touchdown. But those few seconds can be turning point on whether or not his team wins their division, makes the playoffs or takes home the Super Bowl trophy. (The New England Patriots are sitting home this weekend due to a missed extra point)

Team owners and other team officials understand the importance of hiring the best kickers. In fact, the Top 20 field goal kickers in the NFL make $1 million or more annually.  Some are paid as much as $4 million. They are that valuable to the team effort.

One must also realize it takes thousands upon thousands of man hours to get a team ready for play. Even if you just start at the team’s first practice and end when regular season ends, the time and effort put into succeeding is enormous. Yet with all that, it could all come down to one player – on the field – for a short period of time.

It doesn’t surprise me that these top field goal kickers – considering the pressure they are under to produce – can make a good living.

field goal As a professional fundraising auctioneer I often feel like a field goal kicker.

 A great number of people have worked many, many hours to plan an event and then I, like a kicker  with just seconds left in the game for the win, arrive at the event – take the stage – and do what I’ve  learned to do successfully – help charities reach or succeed their  fundraising goals.

Sure it’s a lot of pressure. But when you’re part of the planning process and are totally prepared to do  what you were hired to do – you can approach the task at hand with confidence. The best professional kickers will make the kick. The best professional auctioneer will raise the dough.

I don’t get paid by the hour. Nor does the kicker. We make a good living because of our performance – not by the number of minutes we’re on the field or on the stage.

So when the (fundraising) game is on the line, put me in coach,  and I will put your gala through tfootball coachhe uprights of success.

How I differ from other Charity Auctioneers

Posted by Scott On October 1st

People often ask “So Scott, what makes you different from your competition?”

And really the answer is two-fold. First, there’s my performance the evening of the event (or the day of the event)…whenever it happens to be. So it’s my performance on stage.

But the second, and possibly the most important, is the consulting that I’m able to do with your organization prior to the event.

See, fundraising auctions are all that I do. I eat, sleep, and breathe them all day, EVERY DAY. This is not a side line for me. This is not a secondary type of thing. This is what I do.

When you call, I answer the phone. When you send an email, I respond. And that makes a huge difference in your fundraising success.

You know, there’s lots of tips and tricks and nuances that go on with fundraising auctions and I stay right on top of those trends.

So when you retain my services, not only do you get Scott Robertson the performance auctioneer, you also get Scott Robertson, the fundraising auction consultant.

Not all charity auctioneers are made the same. Some…

Continue reading “How I differ from other Charity Auctioneers” »

You know it seems like 50% of the time when I’m doing an event for the first time, the same question always comes up, right in the heart of the event.

When the silent auction is going on and it’s about to be closed down, someone will come rushing up and say, “Wait, wait! We can’t close the silent auction. We don’t have enough bids!”

Well I’m telling you, ladies and gentlemen, if you don’t follow your timeline, if you don’t close on the timeline…BIG, BIG MISTAKE.

Continue reading “Why You Should Never Delay the Silent Auction at Your Fundraiser” »

Why the Tuxedo at Every Auction Scott?

Posted by Scott On September 4th

Hi, Scott Robertson here and yes, I’m dressed in a tuxedo. I wear a tuxedo every day!

No, just kidding! But I do wear a tuxedo at almost every fundraising event. Why? Because I want people to know who’s in charge when the auction gets started.

See, that’s real important to establish a presence at an event. Not in a dictator manner. But rather just so that people have confidence and understand who’s in charge, who’s leading the event. That’s who you want leading your event is a true leader. And the tuxedo makes me stand out a little more, my voice takes over from there, and everybody wins. We’re all looking for leadership. At a fundraising auction, I consider that my job.

Need America’s leading charity auctioneer to take charge of your fundraiser? Call me at (239) 246-2139 and let’s chat!

-Scott

FB like button

Social Media has revolutionized how we communicate with friends, family, and brands. For decades, the most coveted form of advertising has been word-of-mouth, and now, social media has created a platform where everyone can take part in the conversation. For example, the “Like” button on Facebook has changed how we share information. Every time we “Like” a comment, post, photo, video, or company/organization page, that information is used and perceived in a few ways. If you’re a non-profit, and you can leverage that information, you will be well on your way to being relevant to the next generation of donors.

Facebook is watching your every move.

When you “Like” anything on Facebook, in essence, you are creating your own buyer profile for marketers to target you. “Like” your favorite restaurant or department store page. You will see similar ads show up in your newsfeed for products related to those pages. Do you ever notice when you visit Nordstrom’s website, eyeing a pair of shoes, they magically show up in your newsfeed? It’s powerful stuff! Now, think how you might be able to leverage these tools to reach potential donors and start creating a brand.

Everyone is a spokesmen when using social media, and it has changed how we make purchases.

Continue reading “Social Media for Non-Profits: Building a Culture of Giving One “Like” at a Time” »

Say No to Status Quo

Posted by Scott On August 7th

Today we’re gonna talk about “saying NO to status quo.”

You know, fundraising events need to be fun and they need to be fresh. And they need to be tweaked every year to make them fun and fresh and exciting for your guests to attend. You know 93% of people who attended fundraising events surveyed replied that the reason they attend is because of fun. And fun generally translates into “fun and fresh” which means saying no to status quo.

You know, fundraising events trend. And fundraising ideas trend. Where do you get these new ideas?

Continue reading “Say No to Status Quo” »