Service of Auctions: Charitybuzz Says A Lot

April 23rd, 2015

Categories: Auctions, Charity, Customer Care, Customer Service

Auction

You don’t need to have skin in the game to find the sport of following auction sales thrilling; though to covet something and watch what happens to its price is exhilarating and nail-biting. Look at EBay’s success.

I wanted you to know about another online auction—Charitybuzz–that I became charitybuzz try thisintimately familiar with as part of a New York Women in Communications [NYWICI] Foundation committee to grow the scholarship fund. Charitybuzz is a brilliant business concept providing a seamless way to raise money for nonprofit organizations around the world from the African Rainforest Conservancy to the Zimmer Children’s Museum. The lots generally offer experiences rather than objects.

The partnership with NYWICI works well as the organization knows industry personalities–broadcast celebrities, editors in chief, CEOs of international marketing/advertising/PR agencies and cutting edge corporations for example—who generously give of their time. Wealthy bidders fly thousands of miles–and pay–to meet a star or business guru over lunch, breakfast or coffee for an hour or two or to give their son or daughter the experience of counsel from the C-Suite in their offspring’s dream industry. One of the lot headlines offers to “Jump Start Your Career With a Summer Job at Publicis Worldwide North America.” A gift for the woman who has everything is a ticket to the Glamour Magazine’s Women of the Year event. You have until May 5th to bid on the lots in the NYWICI Foundation auction.

NYWICI Foundation logoLast year this committee made $80,000 for the scholarship fund, after Charitybuzz took its percentage. It earns every cent. The staff introduced us to some top lots; kept meticulous records from past and current auctions to save us time; informed the 100,000 high net worth bidders in its database about our auction and continues to promote it—and that’s just for starters. Our contact was Logan Holzman, auction specialist, who is smart, responsive, and incredibly quick. She’s an unmatched multitasker and has a great sense of humor. We tossed hundreds of balls at her with hard deadlines looming and she didn’t drop one.

farm auction 1The first auctions I ever attended were on the prairies of North Dakota where it didn’t take long for me to learn that the fellows in overalls, when overalls weren’t fashionable, were millionaire farmers. I was an apprentice to a secondhand furniture dealer who took me with him to find the pieces he’d refinish and sell. There were no TJ Maxx stores at the time. The cheapest new furniture available was badly made, ugly and overpriced. Newly married with no budget for furniture, the solid oak chairs and tables were a good option. I left behind the last of my North Dakota Farmhouse Collection—the 50 cent chair–on a move two months ago. That name for the chair was a misnomer if you add the cost of the stain, sandpaper, steel wool and sweat applied to spruce it up.

Sotheby's auctionWhen I was an editor at Art & Antiques Magazine I went to countless auction previews and for years haunted auction house exhibits to see remarkable art and furniture destined for private hands. Along the way I’ve also bought art and antiques at my share of auctions—both silent and standard.

The first auction item I bid on and wanted so badly to own–but that got away–was a pew from an old church that looked a little like the one in the photo below. I also remember buying some amazing bargains and incredible furniture and accessories. How about you?  Have you followed, participated in or attended a thrilling auction?

The "fish" that got away.

The “fish” that got away.

 

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10 Responses to “Service of Auctions: Charitybuzz Says A Lot”

  1. J. McCarthy Said:

    My longtime accountant said for years that “collectables” make bad investments. I’ve bought and sold extensively at auctions for over fifty years and can confirm that it has been an unprofitable experience. Public taste is just too fickle and mercurial. However, I’ll admit that I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun in the process and still go to auctions.

    As to buying people’s time, I’m sure your friends make a lot of money for charity and do a great job, but I suppose I’m jaded. For various reasons, I’ve had one on ones with everything from presidents to authors, musicians, artists and even movie stars, some enjoyable, some not so enjoyable. Except for my psychiatrist, I really wouldn’t want to be around anybody who wouldn’t find me interesting enough to talk to for free. Indeed, the idea of paying somebody to talk to me, really turns me off.

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:

    J. McCarthy,

    People network in different ways. I’ve suggested to the students I mentor that they should attend workshops and panels to meet executives in the fields they’re interested in so they can exchange business cards. Then they should follow up with them. I sense that you are or were a well-regarded high-level executive. Such an executive doesn’t have a difficult time meeting other C-Suite level people.

    And were you to meet one of the executives on Charitybuzz, you would not be paying them a cent: You would be donating to a charity. Imagine if your daughter could add to her resume a paid job at a major advertising marketing firm and say she’d broken break with the chairman. Think of being able to learn about an industry from the head of a major corporation who might offer tips on how to break into it. And then there are name droppers who like to say, “I had lunch today with So and So,” and thank goodness for them!

    I interview the students who are applying for scholarships. So many of them deserve our help but we have only $100,000 to split among some 18 of them. Imagine if we had $200,000!

    You might like one of the resorts on the site or to attend a special event for which you’d not normally be able to get a ticket. Take a look and see! It’s a beautiful looking site and if you like auctions, you’ll enjoy seeing competing bids pop.

  3. Logan Holzman Said:

    Jeanne, this is amazing! I’m smiling ear to ear. I need to email this to my parents now 🙂

    Not sure if you’re familiar with this site, but they share some really impressive DIY home furnishing projects and decorating ideas: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/diy

    Your piece also made me think of this funny NPR show I listened to where a young couple was buying furniture for their house off of ebay when it was really new and they were so excited about the deals they were getting and then when it arrived it was just beautifully crafted doll furniture.

    Anyway, thanks so much for this! You made my day.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Logan,

    We could not have posted the numbers of lots for the soft launch this week without your help and speed, Logan, no doubt about it.

    I love apartmenttherapy.com and your eBay story is hysterical. I saw a British comedy on public TV in which the main character bought a motorcycle on the Internet–don’t recall if at an auction or from a website. Turned out to be a child’s size and he looked so silly—and cheap—riding it that he lost the attention of a potential girlfriend.

  5. Coppy Holzman Said:

    What an amazing posting! We really do value the relationship with New York Women in Communication and it just gets stronger and stronger each year. Thank you for your continued support We know that your many supporters have contributed such unique experiences that your auction this year will be our best ever with you. Logan also raves about working with you and I think you are her favorite!

  6. jeanne byington Said:

    Coppy,

    I get pleasure writing about a great concept that’s well executed. Details matter. The Charitybuzz staff is behind each volunteer and wastes no time in advising and posting lots so donors can revise or approve them in a timely manner. Dana McFadden is strong backup to Logan. We’re always in good hands.

    In the work I do–public relations–it’s rare that people return emails and calls. My colleagues and I increasingly complain that the more ways we have of communicating the less we hear from others. Silence never happened with Logan and her backup staff. In addition to your creative fund-raising idea, what distinguishes your organization is the speed at which it gets work done and the care it takes in doing it.

  7. Lucrezia Said:

    Every so often there’s something interesting on E-Bay, win some, lose some. No interest in pews, church or otherwise, so this isn’t the guilty party speaking!

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Lucrezia,

    While that pew was at a farm auction a million years ago–and not on eBay–you reminded me of the advantage of attending auctions with Mr. McNabb. He had many children and I was the age of some of them so that folks, thinking that I, too, was a McNabb, never bid against me as, I trust, a friend like you wouldn’t do either. Why I remember that bench is that at the time I wanted it so badly–I liked its proportions and architectural detailing–and left the auction disappointed, as, no doubt, many do. It made an impression. For quite a while afterwards I wondered, “if I’d just bid $10 more….”

  9. Holly Koenig Said:

    Excellent blog post! I’m on the advisory board of Mentoring USA and at first they were skeptical about partnering with Charity Buzz. To make a long story short, they exceeded all expectations. Charity Buzz deserves every penny.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Holly,

    I agree! The staff works very hard and smart to earn their commission.

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