SRA in the News

The Founders Fund raises over $300,000 for college scholarships

This article was written by Sue Huff and originally published on April 7, 2016 on

The Founders FundThe Founders Fund raised over $300,000 at the Ed Brennan Memorial Golf Tournament and Banquet which was held at The Club Pelican Bay on April 4. The event had over 260 guests in attendance.

The Founders Fund, which was founded in 1991, is a non-profit charitable organization which provides financial assistance to students from Collier County in their pursuit of a higher education. With the success of the event, more Collier County students will be receiving scholarships this coming year.

The day-long event includes golf, lunch, cocktail hour, dinner, raffle, plus silent and live auctions. Banquet attendees were treated to a gourmet meal prepared by Chef Joe of The Club Pelican Bay.

Auctioneer Scott Robertson got the crowd energized to bid on some incredible vacations. Bringing in the top bid of $10,000 was a Mediterranean Cruise on the Holland America’s cruise ship the Konigsdam, which was donated by Preferred Travel of Naples.


Scott Robertson Auctioneers Help Raise $2.5M at 2016 SWFL Wine & Food Fest

2016 SWFL Wine and Food Fest News-Press article

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SWFL Wine & Food Fest raises $2.5 million for Golisano Children’s Hospital

2016 SWFL Wine & Food Fest article - Naples Daily News

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Drink to Children’s Health: Epic Wine and Food Fest Set for February

Don’t miss the auction lot from AC/DC’s bassist — it rocks!
Fort Myers Local Expert     FEBRUARY 2, 2016

Since the inaugural event in Fort Myers seven years ago, the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest has grown to be one of the top rated wine auctions in the country, generating 12.8 million dollars for pediatric healthcare.

One of the most anticipated and exciting events every February for food and wine lovers, the two-day festival opens with exclusive vintner dinners in private homes on the 26th. Individual hosts pick entertaining themes while award-winning chefs team up with a participating winery to provide an exquisite night out.

The big event takes place the next day, February 27, at the beautiful Miromar Lakes Beach & Golf Club. Local chefs and restaurants bring their A-game, creating stunning small bites for the poolside Grand Tasting.

Winemakers and winery owners are also on hand, pouring their popular blends and varietals; a fantastic opportunity to discover new wines and learn more about the ones you love, from the men and women who make it.

The chic setting overlooks a man-made beach, and live music accompanies your progression from table to table full of delectable dishes and refreshing beverages.

Once attendees have been satiated with food, wine and ambiance, the party moves inside for a rousing auction full of exotic trips, rare wine lots and unique culinary experiences.

The live auction lots generate great excitement and lots of money — Photo courtesy of Southwest Florida Food & Wine Fest


The energy at the live auction is immeasurable, with friends combining assets, others running up the tab on the over-the-top items up for grabs. The sport of it keeps people coming back year after year and is why bidders are enthusiastic about raising their paddles, spending tens of thousands of dollars for dream vacations, exclusive dining soirees and rare wines.

Some of the notable items on the 2016 auction lot include an adventurous safari in Kenya and Tanzania, and a river boat cruise down the Danube or the Seine in Europe or one on the Mekong in Vietnam. For the sportsmen, bid on tickets to the Ryder Cup, skiing in Vail or a sport fishing charter in Costa Rica.

Wine related packages include a collection of bottles that have been awarded the coveted 100-point rating from famed wine critic Robert Parker. There are also several unique wine country travel packages on the auction block, making the possibilities nearly endless to score a big prize while helping improve the health of kids.

100% of the proceeds go to Southwest Florida Children’s Charities, an organization that gives generously to the Golisano Children’s Hospital and provides scholarships and pediatric education programs at Fort Myers area colleges and universities.

Tickets for the 2016 Grand Tasting and auction are $750 a person. The price goes up to $1500 to participate in the private vintner’s dinners.

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Benefit: Nonprofits need auction professionals for fundraising

Scott Robertson and Kathy Kingston present at National Auctioneers Association Conference 2015 - Image courtesy of the National Auctioneers Association

Image courtesy of the National Auctioneers Association
This article was originally written by James Myers and published on Sept 4, 2015 at and republished on 10/2/15 at

Nonprofits think they will make more by spending less (or none) on an auction professional. That’s wrong.

Most nonprofit organizations are in a constant struggle to stay within their budgets as they focus on their cause.

Fundraising events are paramount to the success of most a charity organizations, but is it fiscally responsible to hire someone to organize and manage fundraisers? When partnered with an experienced Benefit Auctioneer, the answer is a definite “yes.”

Scott Robertson, CAI, BAS, has experience with organizations that aren’t sure if they should bring in an auction professional for their event. If he feels Scott Robertson Auctioneers are a good fit, he’ll bring up his company’s track record as proof that it is advantageous to bring in an auction professional.

“The primary reason I see charity auctions fail to achieve expectations is they simply refuse to get out of their own way,” Robertson said. “They focus on the costs of hosting the event instead of the return on investment. Also, they are often more concerned with throwing a party than hosting a fundraising event.”

Kathy Kingston - photo courtesy of Myers Jackson Auctioneer

Kathy Kingston – courtesy of Myers Jackson Auctioneer

Kathy Kingston, BAS, is also a Benefit Auction Specialist and has actually written the book on the subject, “A Higher Bid: How to Transform Special Event Fundraising with Strategic Auctions.” She knows skilled Benefit Auctioneers add value, but can back it up with facts – an NAA-sponsored study published a few years ago reveals that Auctioneers with the BAS designation raise about twice as much money for their clients compared to the auction outcomes where the BAS credential was absent.

“It’s imperative that professional benefit auctioneers not only sell items,” Kingston said, “but they have to sell the mission of the organization.”

Benefit Auctioneers often begin working a benefit auction months before the night of the event. If it’s done right, their work continues to pay off long after the auction event has ended.

“Asking ‘how can I raise money?’ is the wrong question,” Kingston said. “How can we have more fun? How can we create excitement? How can we create a dynamic culture of giving that engages your guest at your auction and beyond?”


Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction breaks records with $4.5 million haul

Sonoma Wine County Weekend - Harvest Auction 2015 - Scott Robertson Auctioneers

This article was written by Peg Melnik and originally published in The Press Democrat on September 6, 2015.

A recreation of the 1915 World’s Fair — complete with a Model T Ford and a barbershop quartet — created a colorful backdrop for a record-breaking afternoon of bidding at Sunday’s Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction.

The spiraling bids climbed to $4.5 million, up from last year’s $4 million.

About 650 people gathered under the magnolia trees at Kenwood’s Chateau St. Jean winery for an afternoon that looked like a step back in time. There were plenty of costumed flappers and Charlie Chaplin lookalikes to highlight the theme “From Sonoma to the World’s Fair.”

Generosity was in plentiful supply, and fundraising under the white tent gained momentum throughout the day with an outpouring of six-digit contributions by the end.

Mary Dewane, Joe Anderson, Squire Fridell, Scott Robertson, Jean-Charles Boisset - Sonoma Wine Country Weekend 2015

Mary Dewane, Joe Anderson, Squire Fridell, Scott Robertson, and Jean-Charles Boisset. Cr: Sonoma Wine Country Weekend

The most spirited — and sentimental — lot was the “Fund the Future” offering, benefiting literacy in Sonoma County. A group of 178 bidders pooled their efforts to “buy” the lot — in reality, making a donation — for $1.9 million. This year’s take broke last year’s $1.7 million record for the same cause.

To introduce the literacy campaign to bidders, a group of children gathered on the stage before a video played.

On the screen, Mary Dewane, co-vintner of Santa Rosa’s Benovia and one of the auction chairs, told viewers, “Our children are our future, and we’ll be a stronger, better and more prosperous county if we educate our children.”

Dewane, her husband Joe Anderson, and the family and board members of Benovia contributed a total of $385,000 to the lot.


Local auctioneers sell just about anything

Sarah Rose Bytnar and Scott Robertson Florida Auctioneers Association

This article was first written by Evan Williams and published in the Fort Myers Florida Weekly on April 22, 2015.

It takes Aubrey Bailey about 15 seconds to sell a calf at the Okeechobee Livestock Market, his easy tumbling cadence or what auctioneer’s call “the chant” rolling from his mouth, which is often kept in good working order with a piece of peppermint candy. He sells calf after calf, 225 or so per hour, 2,400 head one recent week at different markets, mostly to professional buyers, before they’re shipped to ranches in the west or northern states. His voice has rarely failed him in more than three decades calling bids.

“I just kind of say my numbers, say my numbers in a song,” explained Mr. Bailey, who is 53 and lives in Lake City with his wife Kelly and family, where they own a U-pick vegetable farm. “The good Lord just blessed me with a tongue that rolls, that’s all I can say.”

That auctioneer’s chant is one of the profession’s mostly widely recognizable features, although it might be slowed down or dispensed with altogether depending on the occasion. Valuable art or the belongings of the recently deceased carry a certain gravitas, for instance, that cattle generally don’t. Auctioneers or auction businesses must be licensed in Florida in most cases, and the property owner normally pays them with a percentage of the selling price. The sales are loaded with anything from priceless art to prizes sold for charity.

“Last week at our auction I sold a 6-foot elephant husk from the ’30s that was engraved on both sides and it was just a gorgeous piece of art,” said Mike Joyce, owner of Gulfcoast Coin & Jewelry, which holds live auctions that take place at one of two 10,000-squarefoot galleries, in Fort Myers or Bonita Springs, as well as live on the Internet.

Punta Gorda-based auctioneer Jack Robillard has sold old mortuary equipment, grandfather clocks, jewelry, a soot-covered painting by Edward Willis Redfield (it had been hung above a fireplace but after being cleaned went for $327,000), and an entire farm in Pennsylvania, near where he has a second home. The owner had hoped to get $2.3 million but fierce competition between two men pushed the winning bid to $3 million.

“One was calling the other a little pissant,” Mr. Robillard recalls.

Auctions for a cause

If Mr. Bailey’s chant is more about speed and efficiency, moving a high volume of product, Scott Robertson’s style as a benefit auctioneer, raising money for nonprofits, is “part entertainer, part comedian, part minister, part actor.” Whereas Mr. Bailey might sell hundreds of items per hour to pros used to fast talk, Mr. Robertson sells 20 to those with average ears and deep pockets; and instead of peppermints he swears by Throat Coat tea and lukewarm water to keep his vocal chords buzzing. In 2014, he presided over 80 auctions, raising more than $28 million.


Southwest Florida events on list of top wine auctions

Scott Robertson from below SWFL Wine Fest 2015

This article was written by Tammy Ayer and originally published at on March 18, 2015 at 8:25 p.m. EDT.

With its two wine auctions again making Wine Spectator magazine’s list of top U.S. charity wine auctions in 2014, Southwest Florida philanthropists have reason to cheer.

And the Southwest Florida connections to the top 10 list from 2014 don’t end there. The Sonoma Harvest Wine Auction, which made the top five, is called by Southwest Florida auctioneer Scott Robertson. He’s called the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest for years but is also gaining greater prominence on the national charity auction circuit.

The April issue, which is just hitting subscribers’ mailboxes, has the Naples event in second place with a live auction total of $12.1 million and the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest in sixth place with a live auction total of $1.52 million.

The rankings take into consideration only the actual live auction, not ticket sales or sponsorships.

Wine Spectator began ranking charity wine auctions in 2001. The Naples Winter Wine Festival and Auction Napa Valley have consistently held the top two spots. The Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest first made the list in 2012, coming in at number 3 that year.


Benefit Auctioneer Helps SWFL Wine & Food Fest Raise $3.353 Million

Scott Robertson Auctioneer at SWFL Wine & Food Fest 2015

This article was written by Tammy Ayer and originally published at on 2/28/15 at 6:08pm.

Guests cheered as the tally of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest hit $3.353 million — a record — but Dorothy Fitzgerald wasn’t satisfied.

“Sit down. I mean, sit down!” the event co-chair shouted Saturday from the podium at Miromar Lakes Beach Club. “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings, and the fat lady ain’t sung yet.”

With that, she urged guests to keep giving to one auction lot — No. 30, It’s Time to Make Change. Donors tossed coins with certain amounts into piggy banks; wine fest trustees Gary King and Rose O’Dell King would match each donation up to $25,000.

Her plea ensured success. Donors gave $41,500 and the Kings matched $25,000 for a total of $66,500.

The two-day event, which kicked off with nine chef vintner dinners in private homes on Friday evening, is signature event of SWFL Children’s Charities Inc., a nonprofit that funds programs that serve local children.

The Wine Fest has raised more than $14 million over the last seven years, making it the most successful fundraising event in Lee County. It raised about $2.52 million in 2014.