Professional auctioneering a skill and an art

Anyone who has been to an auction conducted by a professional auctioneer can only marvel at the rapid pace of chatter that entices people to keep bidding on items.

An accomplished auctioneer not only announces but also controls the bidding process and is in a unique position of being agent for both the seller and buyer.

In Saugeen Shores, professional auctioneer Pat O’Connor, with 27 years experience and a member of the Auctioneers Association, has consistently raised funds for a wide variety of charities, including Southampton Rotary Club, Pretty in Pink for Cancer, Marine Heritage Society, Crime Stoppers and many others.

Whether it’s in the Southampton Boathouse or at a black-tie dinner auction, O’Connor’s rapid-fire chatter brings in top dollars for fundraising.

“We as auctioneers are used to working in very different conditions,” says O’Connor.


Auctioneer Pat O’Connor at annual Southampton Rotary auction

One of the most recent developments in the world of auctioneering is the ‘Fund a Need’ or ‘Special Pledge Appeal’ concept.   While popular in the United States, O’Connor has introduced the concept to local charitable auctions.

While people in an auction bid on physical items, in the Special Pledge Appeal they are bidding on an intangible item such as research or equipment that they will not take home or, in other words, are donating money.  

Some groups make the mistake of thinking that they can save some money by having a ‘volunteer’ handle an auction but it rarely works well.  A professional auctioneer knows how to read a group, can usually sense when there is another bid or pledge left on the floor and can keep the process moving forward.  A ‘volunteer’, more often than not, does not understand and cannot carry out the intricacies of the Special Pledge Appeal.



“The Fund a Need or Special Pledge Appeal is very interesting,” says O’Connor.  “When auctioning items, a top bidder will go home with an item and those who were bid against do not.  In a Special Pledge Appeal bidding situation however, everyone has the satisfaction of bidding for a cause and knowing that their bid counts for something.  It’s definitely a self-satisfying bidding environment.”

The most recent ‘Fund-a-Need’ bidding was held at the Southampton Rotary annual auction fundraiser where funds that were raised will go toward the Grey Bruce Health Services (GBHS) MRI machine replacement and Rotary projects.

“It’s the second Special Pledge Appeal I’ve conducted here in Bruce County and I believe it was very successful,” says O’Connor, “although the final numbers are not yet in.”