Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

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.

Space Invaders

Posted by Scott On May 30th

space invaders-fundraising auctioneer

We’ve all heard the phrase, “personal space.” Wikipedia defines personal space as “the region surrounding a person which they regard as psychologically theirs.  Most people value their personal space and feel discomfort, anger, or anxiety when their personal space in encroached.”

Who of us have not felt the discomfort of someone invading what we perceive as our personal space?  And what distance from a person is that border – that invisible fence – the stay-this-far-away-from-me property line? It’s not an easy question to answer since – to be totally honest – it really varies from person to person.

That’s the dilemma professional auctioneers and other benefit hosts face during a fundraising event.  They are constantly asking themselves, “How close can I get to a bidder without making him or her uncomfortable?”

I wish I had a definitive answer.  I can only tell you that you have to be constantly aware of a person’s body language. You must know how to read their signs.  And then hope that your “I’ll-pat-you-on-the-back” or your “stay-this-far-away” calculations are correct.

“Instant Purchase” Option Gaining Popularity At Silent Auctions

My experience tells me the more fun a person is having the closer you can approach them.  Those that are having fun – and enjoy being the center of temporary attention – usually don’t have a problem with an auctioneer being by their side. In a way, having the emcee of the event near or in their personal space, helps to shine a brighter light on the bidder.  They truly enjoy the spotlight and their participation adds to the fun factor and entertainment of the event.

On the other hand, some bidders prefer to remain hidden in the shadows and are uncomfortable with any notoriety. Again, by reading their body language – if you feel any negative vibes – if he or she avoids eye contact – you should instinctively stay a distance away.

Every crowd is different and every person is different.  Defining a person’s personal space – their approachability – takes keen observation.  It’s a skill that can be learned, but it does take time. Remember, “When in doubt – from his or her personal space stay out.”

In a future blog we’ll discuss another dilemma that faces a benefit auctioneer – when to push or not push a bidder to a higher bid.


  © 2013 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.


Moves Like Jagger

Posted by Scott On May 2nd

Moves Like Jagger

My performance – or mannerisms on stage during a live auction have been called “larger than life” by those who hired me to be their benefit auctioneer, as well as those guests in attendance.   I’m honored with each and every comment I receive, although the truth be told – I cannot take all of the credit.  Some of it must go to Mick Jagger.

Yes, you read that right.  Mick Jagger. Let me explain.

In 1978 I attended my first Rolling Stones concert. Since then I’ve attended at least 10 other Rolling Stones concerts – both in big and smaller venues.  And, here’s what I noticed.


While performing in a larger venue, Mick’s gestures – his mannerisms – were larger, more exaggerated. While performing in a smaller venue, his mannerisms were more subdued – but still right on cue.

It didn’t take me long to realize why this was occurring. Mick wanted to make sure that even the audience members – sitting in the seats furthest away from him – got to experience his performance just as much as those sitting up front near the stage.  The further those attendees sat – the larger his gestures.

Now, here’s something else I noticed.  Mick always wore pants with an elastic waistband.  The reason?  He often slipped his hand-held mic in the waistband, although unnoticed by the crowd, so his hands were free to gesture to the audience – and get them more fired up.

Luckily for me, I don’t have to wear pants with an elastic waistband.  I work totally from a headset microphone so my hands are always free.

I do however gesture – using both arms – with a specific focus in mind. These purposeful gestures help me better communicate where the bidder is seated – the amount I’m asking for – and sometimes simply to animate a point I’m trying to make.  These mannerisms help keep the attendees engaged – brings emphasis to what is being auctioned off – and adds a fun and exciting element to the benefit.

So, at your next fundraising event be sure your emcee, host or auctioneer keeps your guests entertained and alert by being animated on the stage or in the audience as he or she moves around.

Remember, a Rolling Stone gathers no moss.  That’s because acting like a Rolling Stone will keep the event moving and the attendees more attentive.