Fundraising Auctioneer - Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog

Fundraising Auctioneer

Scott Robertson Auctioneers Blog



When it comes to promoting your auction many of your guests will be looking on your website for the date, time and place as well as other general information.  When it comes to promoting the items you are going to auction off during the fundraising event, nothing beats an old fashion catalog.


I recommend sending out the catalogs two weeks prior to the event – no more, no less.  This will give individuals and couples plenty of time to page through the catalog and determine which items they are interested in bidding on but not allow them time to postpone reviewing the catalog.


Although the first few pages can have a few words from the event chair and some information regarding the charity itself, when it comes to the actual auction items, each live auction item should have a page of its own.


Each page should include a photo of the item and a brief, easy to read description. It’s important to note that color photos are preferred if the printing budget allows for it. Yes, it’s more expensive.  But, we live in a let-me-see color world and fortunately I’ve learned over the 20-plus years I’ve been a benefit auctioneer that catalogs with color pays for itself by raising the level of interest in an item and the level of excitement during the auction. And that translates into higher prices.


Finally, I recommend testimonials be included with an item where appropriate.



Here’s a great example.  Let’s say you are auctioning off a fishing trip to Alaska, which includes a stay at a private chalet and the best fishing captain at the port.  If you auctioned off the same trip the year prior get some quotes from the person who took the trip and let them describe – in their own words – what a fantastic adventure it was.  You simply can’t beat positive personal experiences.


And don’t forget about silent auction items. Although it increases the work load, listing all the silent auction items, in categories provides greater exposure to the profit makers. For instance if you have  golf experiences from various country clubs. The catergory will be “GOLF” with the items listed below with the their respective silent auction number. (see example below) This will allow you spread out the golf trips all around the silent area but group them in the catalog. Pictures are generally not provided for silent auction items.


 Golf Packages


Item number                 Description                            Location

12                        Foursome at Fiddlesticks CC        Ft Myers FL

23                        Foursome at Quail West                 Naples FL

42                        Foursome at Black Diamond       Crystal River FL

66                        Foursome at Bear’s Paw                 Sarasota FL


So, don’t forget to get those catalogs out on time and give each live auction item its own colorful, descriptive page. And be sure to have a copy of the same catalog at the event so your guests can remind themselves exactly on what they want to bid.




Take Note of Society Event Columnist Part 1

Posted by Scott On August 22nd



Getting pre-publicity and post-publicity for a fundraising event can play a major role in alerting the public to the need of the charity, organization or school as well as getting members of the public to attend the event in hopes of raising more dollars.

Your local Social Event Columnist should be one of your first contacts – and most important.  You should also be communicating with the Columnist’s Editor perhaps as much as 6 months to a year in advance with the goal of getting the Editor to put your social event on his or her assignment calendar – since it fills up extremely quickly.

It’s also very important to be prepared when the writer arrives on the day or night of the event.  Even though the writer may have covered the event in previous years and is familiar with the charity – and even if the writer was sent or given a pre-event press kit or initial program – make sure a complete package of information is presented to the writer upon arrival. The exact contents of that package will be discussed in Social Event Columnists: Part 2.


I’m often asked by Event Chairs, “Where do we seat a Social Event Columnist?” I always tell them the same thing.  “Greet them warmly – and show them to the best seat possible.”  But keep in mind you should reserve the absolute best seats in the venue for those likely to donate the most money.  Society Columnists are great at what they do and can get their story no matter where they are seated.

When the event is done a Chair or event representative should personally thank the Columnist for attending and ask if they need any other information, such as the list of top selling packages.

It’s also important that the Chair and Columnist share telephone numbers and email addresses so there is an easy exchange of the most critical information of all – the total amount raised – which could take hours, if not longer, to add up.

images (1)

And finally, be sure to forward that total by 10 a.m. the next day.  Social event Columnists are on deadlines too.  The earlier they receive the information – the easier and less stressful you make it for them.

I’ve learned over the years that social event columnists are wonderful professionals – who enjoy covering their city’s major fundraisers – and reporting on the charitable organizations that strive to make their city a better place to live.

It’s the Event Chair’s responsibility to make the writer’s job as easy as possible by giving them the information they need in advance of an event – during the event – and immediately after the event.

The more you take note of a Social Event Columnists important role in making your event successful – the more the Columnist will take note of you and your event.

 © 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














One of the first blogs I posted on my website had to do with the subject of saying “thank you.” The focus of that blog was when to send a follow-up thank you to your event’s VIPs and largest, most generous contributors.

If you will recall, the answer was within days. Any thank you that arrives after that time frame seems like water under the bridge since too much time would have elapsed and memories of the event begin to fade.

In this blog I want to discuss saying thank you during an event.

Although every guest should receive a warm welcome and feel as if their presence is very much appreciated – the verbalization of a thank you carries a much heavier weight and is much more appreciated by your guests when it is spoken immediately after the fundraising portion of the event.

Avoid saying “thank you” at the beginning of an event.  And avoid saying “thank you” during the middle of an event.  Overdoing those two words early on is like adding water to soup – it dilutes the power the words and those words will have less meaning when they’ll really mean the most.

“Instant Purchase” Option Gaining Popularity At Silent Auctions

My philosophy is:  “Welcome – and away we go with the auction.”  Nationally this is a fairly new trend – and it has proven to work.  So, save the “thank you’s” for the end when you are actually saying “thanks” for everyone’s generosity.

And don’t forget – a nice thank you goes great with a strong, sincere handshake or a warm hug – when appropriate. It’s not only the perfect combination to end the night – or day – but it will help build the foundation for the guest list for your next year’s event.

Now that I’m done with this blog – may I just say “thank you” for reading it.







Treat Your Celebrity Talent as A VIP

Posted by Scott On May 23rd

treat your celebrity talent like a vip-fundraising auctioneer

At many local fundraisers you’ll see local TV news anchors and reporters assisting the charity – by not only promoting the event on air – but by participating in the actual event itself. Since they are easily recognizable personalities their presence automatically increases the significance of the event in the minds of the other guests in attendance.

That’s why I have two basic rules when it comes to local TV personalities who volunteer their time to join you at your worthy cause.  1) Treat them like a VIP. 2) Make it as easy for them as possible.

Since many fundraising events start in the early evening hours – and the news anchor or reporter will be arriving late due to the fact they just got done with their early evening newscast – have a reserved parking space for them as close to the venue entrance as possible. An orange cone is always an easy target for them to spot and it reserves the parking space.


Keep in mind – if you don’t have a reserved parking space for them they end up parking in the last spot in the lot because they’ll probably be the last to arrive.  They’ll also have to walk the furthest once the event is over. So keep them close – even if you do offer valet parking.

Here are several more helpful hints on how to treat your local celebrities.

Make sure they receive an auction catalog ahead of the event.  This will give them time to study it at their leisure.

Upon their arrival they should be greeted by a charity representative and handed a 3-ring binder with the auction items, notes and timeline clearly spelled out – with their portion highlighted.

And don’t forget to give them a pen to write with or a bottle of water to refresh them.

The celebrity should be escorted to his or her table – preferable as close to the stage as possible.

Time is a precious commodity for everyone. Typically when a celebrity is donating their time, a 2-3 hour commitment is the expectation on their part. If their presence is needed for a longer period of time, this should be discussed in advance.

And finally, present them with a gift card at the end of the event. Remember, not only are they donating their time and talent, but they do have expenses such as travel, hiring a babysitter and buying new clothes – to name just a few.

So treat your local VIPs like the celebrities they are.  Their presence will boost your exposure and make your guests feel they are hobnobbing with TV stars.

exchanging packages beneficial for charities

Oh the holidays.  The time of year you exchange presents – wrapped packages if you will – with family and friends.  The feeling you get when you give.  The feeling you get when you receive.

In this case, however, I’m not talking about exchanging Christmas packages, but rather auction packages.  Let me explain.

I live in Southwest Florida and work with many outstanding charitable organizations in the area.  It’s easy for us to put together a package of goodies that focus on sun, sand, and water to be auctioned off.  We have access to Gulf-front hotels, superb restaurants, fun fishing charters, private world-class golf courses and excursions through the Everglades National Park. Yes, it’s paradise.

That’s the good news.  The not-so-good news is “we live here.”  These are things we can do every day.  But, these are not things the residents of our northern states have access to on a daily basis.

Exchanging Packages Beneficial For Both Charities

Now reverse the situation.  A charity in Wisconsin, as an example, has access to a luxury cabin in the woods on a lake, with fresh water fishing right outside the door, a hillside golf course just miles away and fine restaurants scattered about the historic old town just down the road.

If this package was auctioned off in Wisconsin, it probably would not garner a great deal of excitement since this is something many of the residents of the state can do on a regular basis.

So I propose a trade.  An even swap.  Place the Wisconsin getaway package in a Florida benefit auction and place the Florida getaway package in the Wisconsin benefit auction. All you need to do is find a willing trading partner.

So, how do you locate such a partner?  If you are a Florida charity concerned about environmental issues locate a similar organization in Wisconsin. If your group raises money to fund children’s programs contact groups in Wisconsin with the same cause.

It may take a little time to locate the right trading partner – but when you do you will discover it’s a win/win/win situation. Both charities have fresh “getaway packages to exciting destinations” to auction off and that will bring in more money to the charity’s bottom line.

“Instant Purchase” Option Gaining Popularity  At Silent Auctions

More than a year ago I released my Top 14 Tips on how to make a silent auction run smoothly – and profitably. I’m happy to report I just updated my Top 14 list by adding another important tip which will surely add to a charity’s or organization’s bottom line.


That important 15th tip deals with the option of “Instant Purchase.”  As many of you know, during a silent auction attendees monitor items during a period of several hours and continually up the bid if someone has outbid them.


Instant Purchase is just that – Instant.  It allows bidders to purchase a silent auction item instantly at a predetermined price.  The price should be decided for each individual item base on perceived popularity.  The general rule of thumb is to price the item at 150% to 200% of the item’s retail value.


As an example, let’s say the silent auction included a family ski vacation with a retail value of $5,000. A guest could instantly purchase that vacation for $7,500 or $10,000.  Another prime example is a strand of pearls. After the wife hints she really likes them the husband purchases them at the marked up price and takes them off the market. It’s a win-win situation as the husband doesn’t take the chance of being out bid and the charity sells the item more much higher than retail.


It’s important to note that not all silent auction items lend themselves to the “Instant Purchase” option. Those items are the ones that have no definite retail price or are not normally sold in the retail marketplace.

For example, a celebrity wine dinner or a class project constructed by the 2nd grade at a school auction.  A week stay in a mountain cabin owned by a friend of the charity but is never available for rent also would not qualify.


The bidders who enjoy the instant purchase option are generally male who simply do not want to continually monitor the silent auction sheets, but prefer to buy the item at the inflated cost which affords them the opportunity to hang out with their friends at the reception.


So, the next time you are conducting a silent auction, don’t forget to make some of the items up for bid available through the “Instant Purchase” option.


And don’t forget about my other Top 14 Tips.  Check them out by going to my website,