On this episode of Bloomerang TV, Steve Roseman, President of WEDO Auctions, stops by to talk about optimizing the live auction at your fundraising event.
Steven: All right, welcome. Hey there. Thanks for joining you s for
this week’s episode of Bloomerang TV. My name is Steven: I’m the VP of
Marketing here at Bloomerang, and today I’m really pleased to be joined by
our guest. He’s actually here in Indianapolis along with Bloomerang. He is
Steve Roseman. He is the President of a company called WEDO Auctions.
Hey there, Steve. How’s it going?
Steve Roseman: Doing well, doing well. Thanks for having me on.
Steven: Yeah, absolutely. It’s always good to have someone in town
versus across the country, so we always try to bring in
folks who are in Indy and in a non-profit scene. So thanks
for being here.
So you run a company, you do consulting for charity auctions. Isn’t
that right? Maybe you could tell people a little bit about
what you do.
Steve Roseman: Yeah. We do auctions, DVA-based. We do charity auctions.
That’s how you would find us. But yeah, we work with
charity organizations on a national level, helping them in
any area that they need with their fundraising silent
auctions, predominantly on the mobile bidding side of
things. But we do a lot of consulting with them as well, to
help their overall [inaudible 00:01:02] yeah.
Steven: Okay, cool. So we’re recording this in August, and event season
is right around the corner. It seems like it kind of fires
up in October and November, and people will do auctions.
Auctions are pretty popular for a fundraising gala or an
annual event. What should people know before they start to
create their auction in terms of getting the items together
and presenting them? What are your tips for putting those
items together to start with?
Steve Roseman: The big thing is going to be your volunteer staff, for
one, or the group that you have working with you. Silent
auctions are becoming a very prevalent thing in communities
all around the country, so the big thing that you want to
try to do is separate yourself from anyone else out there.
Obviously you have your standard items that everybody
wants, you know, your gift cards, your hotel stays,
different things of that nature. But it’s really just
creating those relationships so you can go and generate
items year after year.
But the one thing that I always advise organizations to do is, look
at your auction kind of like a retail store. And try to
cater to everyone. A lot of organizations out there think
that they have to have a lot of lavish items, and it has to
look really good. Unfortunately that means, traditionally,
high price points.
Steve Roseman: Unfortunately, not everybody can spend that kind of money
at the event, and it really helps for everyone to be able
to participate in the auction. Everybody likes to take
something home. They look at it like a prize. That’s the
main thing that I would advise is that they try to find
things that cater to their entire patron base who is going
to be attending that night.
Steven: It seems like I’ve been to some events where there’s a theme,
and it seems like that kind of runs contrary to what you
just suggested. Would you discourage themes? Because it
seems like it would only cater to one type of audience, and
if your people aren’t into that thing, you’re probably not
going to move many items.
Steve Roseman: Yeah, when the theme of the event is great, I think that’s
phenomenal, because that does help separate you from other
organizations out there. But when it comes to the items,
once again, I just highly recommend that they cater to the
Unfortunately, I’ve worked with organizations that were off-base.
They didn’t want to take any advice that we had to offer.
They know their patrons better than I, so I was [inaudible
00:03:32]. Then, unfortunately, the starting bid on
everything was like $300. It just, unfortunately,
statistically doesn’t work that way.
Steven: So I’ve sat in on some of your presentations and webinars, and
one piece of advice you give is to pre-launch an auction.
Can you kind of explain that process and how to go about
doing that? What that actually is?
Steve Roseman: Yeah, no problem at all. A lot of the, in my opinion, on
the pre-launches isn’t necessarily about the technology
itself. It’s more the marketing side and raising more
funds. Now with the pre-launch, if you’re watching this,
and you don’t really understand what that is, by using
mobile bidding technology or online technology, you’re able
to launch your auction before the event even starts. That
gives your patrons the capability of looking at the items
before the event and start to bid and have that activity.
The great thing about that is, they’re not rushed. They’re sitting at
home. If you’re like my wife and myself, I might be
watching TV, and she’s sitting there playing on her phone
and having a good time. She might be able to bid that way.
One big thing that we’ve noticed with a pre-launch is, with
your live auction items, if you’re talking items that are a
couple of thousand dollars, a lot of couples or a lot of
individuals don’t want to make that decision within two
Steve Roseman: So that gives them that time. But it also helps market
your event. If you look at schedules logistically and when
people arrive at the event, people tend to be a little
late, you know, fashionably late. So if they’re arriving
late, that’s going to shrink the time they can look at your
auction items before the presentation or the dinner that
you have starts. So it really increases the visibility of
your items, which increases the amount of activity.
Steven: That makes sense. So you can tell people what kinds of things
to expect, and then maybe that decision-making can happen a
little bit before they get to the event, and then they pull
Steve Roseman: Exactly. Exactly.
Steven: So do you share all of the them, you think? Or just kind of a
sampling, or maybe the things that [inaudible 00:05:44].
What is your strategy there on the pre-launch?
Steve Roseman: That’s going to be based on the organization and the type
of event, as you mentioned before, the theme there. You
know some organizations, at least with our platform, as
they’re loading the items in, that’s when individuals will
start to see the items on the software. Other organizations
strategically will have 25, then they’ll add another 25 as
the event gets closer, so it’s really situational there.
But there is that capability of showing the items without
them having the capability of bidding. So there are a lot
of different things that we can do that cater to
organizations that we work with.
Steven: Cool. All right. So everyone follows your advice, they know
their audience, they put the right items together, they pre-
launch, they’ve done all the promotion. It’s the night of
the event. The auction’s been open for a little while.
Maybe the fundraisers start to feel a little nervous.
Things aren’t moving. What can you do at the event to maybe
make things a little more appealing or generate some
activity on the auction itself, before the night runs out?
Steve Roseman: That’s a great question. We get that quite often. People
think that our service is a fundraising service, but we
provide more the customer service behind things. The number
one thing that I would recommend is making sure the auction
items on the tables aren’t cluttered. If anybody can’t
focus on any one thing, and they’re walking through, and
they’re focused on time, they’re chatting with their
friends, socializing, we have to make the items easily
visible to the eye and eye-catching there. That would be my
number one suggestion.
The other thing that I highly recommend is, whoever is hosting or the
live auctioneer verbally talking about specific items,
promoting it from the stage, or just from a microphone. It
doesn’t have to be from the stage. As well all know, the
emotion is a lot easier to create verbally than through a
text message. We get a lot of questions, “Can you shoot out
a message?” And we can. It’s just not as exciting
Steve Roseman: When you’re getting up there promoting different items. So
those are the big things there.
Steven: Yeah, I see a lot of people who just kind of always set it and
forget it. They do a beautiful job setting it up, and then
suddenly no one’s there pushing it from the stage.
Steve Roseman: Right. One last thing that I would recommend that I even
noticed in my own foundation when we threw our gala two
years ago, we changed venues, and we had the auction items
outside of the ballroom where most of the activity was
And once people entered in that ballroom, you might as well have just
turned off the silent auction posted at that point. So
another thing I would recommend is, if you have the
capability, trying to have the silent auction items visible
throughout the entire event until you are ready to close
that silent auction. That would be a huge, huge benefit to
Steven: That makes sense.
Steve Roseman: Yeah.
Steven: Well, cool, Steve. This is really awesome advice. Hopefully
people will take this into account as they start to plan
their fall events or any events they have, honestly. So
where can people find out more about you and the work you
Steve Roseman: Yeah. You can just go to wedocharityauctions.com, and it
maps out our services and different things that we offer
there. It’s probably the easiest way to get in contact with
Steven: Cool. We’ll link to all that. We’ll share all this advice as
well. Steve, thanks for hanging out with us for a little
while and sharing all this advice.
Steve Roseman: Oh, thank you for having me, once again.
Steven: All right, everyone, we will catch you next week with another
chockfull episode of advice for fundraisers and non-
profiteers. We will see you then. Bye, bye, now.