Fall Fundraising

Our first fundraising auction for the fall season started with the Borland Free Clinic and their Borlandia Gala. Held in a private airplane hanger surrounded by private jets and collector cars it created the perfect setting for the 250 guests, who had just seven unique auction packages to bid on.

One of my favorites was a vintage Harley Davidson which was sold twice, bringing the the total sales price close to $10k. Great food, live music and supportive patrons made it a great event. If you would like to learn more, or support the clinic visit www.borlandclinic.org.


On the run.

The second week in May is always a busy for me. We start off on Tuesday with one of my long time clients, the Fly Fisher Club of Oregon, with their annual foundation auction. We will be raising money again this year for the continued protection of native fish and stream reclamation projects here in the state of Oregon.

On Saturday we will be working the Blosser Center, they help both children and adults who are dealing with Dyslexia. In between that I’ll be doing weekly car auction here in Portland and then heading down to Las Vegas to finish out my week.



I got a call the other day from an auction chair asking if I was available to work an auction on short notice. The original auctioneer that had been hired ended up refusing to work in the space that was selected for the fundraiser. In my entire time as an auctioneer, I had never heard that before!

While some venues may not be the ideal space for live auction, this one seemed completely workable to me. I have always believed that any space can work as long as there are these two things - a place that guests can gather and a sound good system with which the emcee and auctioneer can work.

So I got to thinking about all the places where I have worked as an auctioneer - hotels, schools, country clubs, golf courses, fairgrounds, basements, garages, parking lots, junkyards, airplane hangers, kitchens, sound stages, radio stations, galleries, courthouse steps, under the shade of a tree, a bowling alley. I have even worked in some unusual and harsh conditions; like in a rainstorm, a snowstorm, a thunderstorm in the Tetons.

Any kind of auctioneer can make any auction work anywhere!



All of my Saturday nights through the spring and fall are filled with fundraising auctions. This last week though, our team had back-to-back-to-back auctions Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings! I am glad to report that we managed to meet or exceed the goals at each and every event and surpassed the expectations of all those who were involved.

It really is satisfying for me when my clients feel that we knocked an event out of the ballpark. It is especially rewarding when they are loyal clients whom I have had the pleasure of working with the longest in my auctioneering career. In today’s fundraising world, if the same auctioneer is invited back for three or more years in a row; that is considered a long stretch. So, I consider myself supremely lucky to have working relationships of upwards of ten years with some of my schools and non-profits.

I still have a few full weeks ahead, so see you at the next auction!



October kicks off the fall fundraising season here at srdorsey auctioneering! Instead of the bevy of beer and bratwurst that defines Oktoberfest, our month is chockerblock full of benefits and galas, special appeals and fundraising auctions.

This year, we are back at the World of Speed Museum. We are working again with Chad Brown and his Soul River Foundation in Portland, then onto San Francisco for the Wild Salmon Center 25th anniversary celebration at the end of the month. We will likely raise over a million dollars at these three auctions alone. Very exciting stuff.

On the car side of things; I worked a collector car auction with my old boss Mitch Silver, over the weekend. We'll be meeting up again in Southern California and Las Vegas. Check back in with us at the end of the month to see how we made out!

My Other Job

This weekend marks the end of the traditional fundraising season. This autumn through spring, each of the not-for-profit groups that I worked with saw another solid year of growth. But I didn't do it all on my own.

We have to thank all the volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year for these schools and committees; so that when I show up on the day of the big event, the audience shows up and is ready to do its part by giving. It really does take a huge team, most of which are your steadfast volunteers, to make sure that your fundraising auction is successful. So when it comes time; before, during, and post-event, make sure that you recognize how much you appreciate the help of your event staff!

I have some exciting auctions coming up, with a bit of a break in July and August. So I'm looking forward to enjoying some warm weather this summer and then to branching outside the Portland area this coming fall.

Back On the Run

Within the first week of January, I have already been to Canada, California, and Las Vegas. It's good to be busy!

While the fundraising part of the auction business doesn't get rolling until February, January is chock-a-block full of collector car and vintage motorcycle auctions.

First up is Scottsdale, where a week-long collector car feast made up of seven auction companies competing for the business of car enthusiasts world-wide. It also happens to be a multi-million dollar week! Barrett-Jackson alone, is expecting to sell in excess of $100 million in cars; with the rest of the auction houses coming close to match that same amount too. You're playing with the big boys here.

Next up in the week immediately following, the focus shifts from cars to motorcycles in Las Vegas; where hundreds of motorcycles will cross the combined auction blocks of Mecum and Bonhams auction companies. At Bonhams (www.bonhams.com), a rare Crocker motorcycle is expected to go for $500 to $600 thousand. Over at Mecum (www.mecum.com), it is offering a fantastic selection of motorcycles at no-reserve. It's sure to be an excitement-filled week. I'll be there, so I hope to run into some of you. Drop me a line on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter; or just swing by to say hello.

Happy New Year everyone and happy bidding and browsing to those of you heading down to Arizona and Nevada!

Happy Holidays

With Thanksgiving turkey in the rearview mirror, it's a quick countdown to Christmas only three weeks down the road.

Waterwatch wrapped up this year's fundraising with a bang. Thanks to Nina Johnson for sharing her photography skills. Next year is already looking to be a Happy New Year filled with fun fundraisers. Good to have our loyal repeat customers back and a warm welcome to new clients joining our team. We look forward to starting the 2017 fundraising season right with a new-to srdorsey auctioneering not-for-profit group. Revving up in February and gearing down in November, there is still lots of availability remaining in the first and last months of next year's auction calendar. If you have a specific date in mind, best to get on the stick!

A couple of notable upcoming events is auction week in Arizona, January 18 to 22. You will see a record number of cars consigned this week in 2017, with seven auctions competing for your business. Even I have been eyeing a few auctions I may head down to. There are some worthwhile cars to bid on. Of course, don't forget to check out the first motorcycle auction of the year too.  Mecum returns to Las Vegas January 27 to 29. I'm planning to make it down there for at least one of those days.

So happy holidays to you and your families. Thanks for a tremendous 2016! I wish you all the best in the new year and am excited to see what 2017 has in-store for us all.

Thanks for a Great Year!

This past weekend, the srdorsey auction team finished up another successful fundraising auction season. In 2016, I'm proud to say that we helped over 20 non-profit societies, public and private schools, and charitable foundations reach their fundraising goals! Overall giving was up this year; but the auctions that took place during the uncertainty of election week, may have suffered a bit of pull-back. Despite 2016's being an election year, each and every one of our returning clients saw an increase in what they had raised from the year before.

I'm very excited to welcome four new clients who will be joining the srdorsey auctioneering team in 2017! I'm really looking forward to 2017's turning into another great fundraising year too. Please also join me in welcoming Dave Colson to our team. You may have already seen him around on the ballroom floor. In the new year, he will be making regular appearances as ringman and lending his hand as auctioneer too.

Our 2017 event calendar is filling up fast! If you're looking to bringing us back again in the coming year or considering holding your very first fundraising auction; the srdorsey auctioneering team would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Thanks everybody, for a great year!

Bigger Is Not Always Better

At the end of November, we will be finishing up our final fundraising auctions for the year. The last one on our roster is slated for the Soul River Foundation. Chad Brown is in charge of this not-for-profit aimed at helping inner city kids and veterans who suffer from PTSD. To learn more about the good work he is doing, you can check him out at www.soulriverrunsdeep.com.

This year has already been a big year for growth. All-told, eight new clients joined the srdorsey fundraising team. A couple were very large auctions with over 300 people in attendance and more than a $150K raised in one night! Though the majority came to us as grassroot groups starting up with their first fundraising auctions. Most had limited to no experience in organizing a fundraiser. So we were able to guide and coach them into holding their first auctions, which turned out to be better events than they had imagined possible.

On average, we managed to raise between $20,000 and $50,000 on auction night, which was enough to cover their expenses and provide much needed revenue for these kickstart non-profits. Our success didn't surprise me; but what did, was how difficult it was for these small groups with limited resources, to find an auctioneer who was willing to be paid less to work a smaller auction.

In my experience and opinion; it is even more crucial to hire a professional auctioneer for a smaller and newer auction, than it is for a well-established auction that has been running year upon year. Most auctions take at least three years to establish themselves. Usually in year one, we establish a baseline of funds raised. The next year, we improve a bit more by raising more than we did at the inaugural event. Then by the third year, the tendancy is for the amount of money raised to plateau. But not to worry; because by year three, we have typically tripled the amount we have raised from the first auction!

So whether you are considering your first ever auction or you need to spice up your tenth annual one, we are glad to help you out!

Chad Brown. Photo compliments of www.soulriverrunsdeep.com

Chad Brown. Photo compliments of www.soulriverrunsdeep.com

Summer Has Arrived!

Summer has arrived here in Portland!

Last weekend, we already reached temps of 100 degrees. So I've been getting out early in the day to ride my motorcycle with my riding buddies. We always congregate at a local coffee shop to shoot the breeze while enjoying a great latte. This past Sunday, we hit three different spots. Talk about a caffeine overload.

I'm still managing to get a bit of work in, between gardening and auctioneering. Although The fundraising calendar slows down in the summer, new and old clients alike are calling to book their fall events. Spring of 2017 is gearing up to be a busy one with my February and March nearly fully booked. If you can believe it, I've already had a booking request for 2018!

Enjoy your summer. I already am. But then, an auctioneer's work is never done. I'll be close by this summer if you want to drop a line or give a holler!

The Magic Moment

We all know when we're having a great conversation, either in-person or on the phone - everything is flowing and you're both engaged. But sometimes, there is a point that is reached - a magic moment.  A moment when the conversation should naturally come to an end, but doesn't? It keeps dragging on and on... By this point, it has become a one-sided conversation. So imagine instead of having this one-on-one conversation with somebody, now you're having it with an audience of two to three hundred people who would like it to end too.

This scenario can turn your fundraising auction from a place of excitement and laughter to a place where you can hear the audible groaning and shuffling of chairs and the buzzing of text messaging in the audience. It can be one of the most expensive mistakes your organization can make. Why? Because you and your inexperienced auctioneer have let the moment pass. The audience is no longer engaged with the speaker or the cause. Your guests and patrons have literally heard enough.

We all suffer from shortened attention spans today. So it is crucial to make sure everyone who is speaking on stage be scripted, the auction portion of the evening included.

Can You Believe?

It's two months till the end of another school year and only eight months till Christmas! I cannot believe how quickly the time is moving this year. Can you?

I wasn't quite ready to plan for next year, until a few of my eager-beaver clients asked to book me as their auctioneer again for next March. So now I've got two weekends of the first quarter of my 2017 daytimer already filled. March is the earliest that I have ever had a client request a booking into the following year. Al likens it to booking your favorite, annual vacation rental. You've had such a fabulous time; that no sooner you are packed up and out the door, you are ready to commit to coming back to another wonderful weekend at the cabin.

So if your fundraising group is going ahead with your scheduled event next year, you might want to pen in a date with your chosen venue and preferred auctioneer.

Calendar by timeanddate.com.

Tick Tock

The clock starts now. We're already a month into the new year. Time is ticking away for the upcoming 2016 fundraising season. This year is already turning out to be even better and busier than it was in 2015! I'm proud to say that each one of our clients saw an increase in attendance and in dollars raised at every event at which we auctioneered last year.

I would encourage anyone who is thinking of holding an elaborate auction gala or just a simple event with a special appeal, to start planning as soon as possible. If you haven't booked a venue or an auctioneer yet; at this point in the game, you may not get your first pick. Those choice weekends book up fast, so make sure you have your favorite ballroom and professional auctioneer lined up ASAP!

You can never be over-prepared for success.


The Grass is Greener


This week I have had the chance to reflect on and practice my patience. Now this isn't going to be one those self-help posts you can find all over your social media accounts either. It's actually about grass. No, not the kind that you can legally buy here in Oregon now either. It's about actual grass seed.

Nobody plants grass seed on their lawns anymore. Today, you can get a lawn in day. Just pick up the phone and someone comes to lay the sod down, your sprinkler system waters it, and BAM! Instant lawn. Well, I did the opposite. I took the time to till the land, prepare it with topsoil, went out and bought actual seed, spread the seed on my lawn and watered. But nothing happened. I hand-watered it daily. Still nothing. The next thing you know, the birds started to eat the seeds. Not just one or two birds, but flocks of them. I love birds, but they are eating my lawn as fast as I can put the new seed down! My first thought was that the seed was defective and that my front yard is going to be a sea of mud this fall. The reality was that I just hadn't waited long enough, until the seed was ready to sprout.

How many of us give up on something before it was ready to sprout and grow. Think about that when you're going about your daily life or even when planning your next fundraising auction. Everybody and everything takes time to grow. That goes for your grassroots fundraisers too.

Fall is Here

I had a great summer this year. Though like most of them, it went by too quickly. I had a chance to do a couple road trips - out to the Oregon Coast, the Gorge and up to Vancouver Canada, my favorite city, second to Portland. I feel really lucky to live here in the Pacific Northwest and I get out as often as I can, to enjoy all that it has to offer.

I had a pretty easy summer in regards to my workload. Without the weekly trips between Portland and Seattle, I was only on a plane every other week. Summer isn't a particularly busy time for fundraisers; though we had a couple of fundraising auctions. So I get to start this fall fundraising season completely refreshed and ready to go.

We're working on a couple of exciting new ventures for the New Year. As soon as we have some 2016 details finalized and dates set, we'll make an announcement. Keep checking back here to be in the know.

Ali, our one-woman Communications team, will also be starting a seasonal e-newsletter to keep srdorsey clients and friends appraised of what's happening. So if you want to stay current on the world of auctions or where we are and what we're doing; drop me a line and we'll make sure we keep in touch with you. Please feel free to include any topic requests or inquiries and we'll do our best to help you out.