John: This is John Dowling, and I am here with Bobby Ross, the founder, and gentleman who runs Triple Crown Fundraising. Triple Crown fundraising seems to be at a good number of the charity events on Long Island, so Bobby tell us about what you do?
Bobby: Thank you so much. What we do is help charities with their annual events, which may be golf outings, galas, or dinner dances. We assist them with the auction items that will help them raise more money. These items also add to the decorations at the event and boost their ability to raise more money. We try to add support for the organizations as well as take care of other items that are donated. So, we in effect, facilitate everything we can in regards to the auction and the charities bottom line.
John: So how do you help? I see you at so many of these events, and they all seem to have some type of magic formula.
Bobby: We provide auction items, and the charity keeps a nice portion of the opening bid, plus all of the up bid. If an item does not get bid on and sold, we take it back, so that there is never any risk to the charity. We also facilitate all the items they have, like baskets, and they of course get 100% of those proceeds. We do the set up for everything and the breakdown. We do as much of the financials as the charity would like us to like making the bid sheets for the old school bidding. The new school bidding consists of mobile bidding and we have pivoted into that as well. Our goal is to try to do as much as we can for the charity and have them experience as little cost as possible.
John: Beautiful. Now how did you get started in this business, because it’s such a unique field that you wouldn’t even know it was a field?
Bobby: Exactly. When I explain to people what I do, it takes a little while to understand it. It is its own niche. I always played sports and was a big sports fan and a big entertainment fan. My father was a collector of cards and memorabilia, so I grew up collecting them as well. It just morphed into me learning about this business and then seeing that, with our products, we can help out and support local charities. I was sold and it has been great. I’ve been doing this now for 20-years, literally starting a year out of college.
John: For as long as I’ve been donating to charities here on Long Island, which is most of my life, I see you at the events and now I finally know how it started you, you were a collector.
Bobby: Absolutely. What’s funny John is that a lot of it used to be mostly all sports memorabilia.
John: That’s still big now. I know with Rich and Mike Cave with Pink Tie; they love that stuff.
Bobby: Absolutely they are great supporters of a lot of important charities on Long Island. What they do and have been doing during the COVID crisis has been incredible. They are a great family. As I was saying, in regards to the auction items themselves, it used to be all sports memorabilia, but now you have galas with ladies at the events and so the items now range from sports memorabilia to entertainment and now there is a lot of art and jewelry and also unique experiences. There is a little something for everyone that attends events to help support every dollar. It really makes a big difference.
John: Recently, I’m not sure if this is something you do, but I saw an auction where they had the ability to buy someone for the night. Are you involved in any of those experiences?
Bobby: I have seen, especially during the COVID, being able to zoom with a celebrity.
John: Exactly, that is what I’ve seen.
Bobby: It might be for half an hour, or an hour on Zoom. It can be a lunch wherever the winner is and the celebrity would have their lunch. To be able to get that incredible access and talk to them one on one is truly priceless. Usually, when you see a celebrity, they may have 100 people around them, right in their face, the people may be all over them, so you don’t get that personal time. I have seen that, and they do very well for the charities.
John: Now you yourself must be very philanthropic. What charities do you personally support and why?
Bobby: Last year we did about 275 charity events. They were all different types of events. Some charities have more than one event in a year so it might be 180-200 different charities. They are all special to me, for all different types of reasons. For example, the Michael Magro Foundation is incredible. I am friends with Paul, Terrie, and Mark, and they are just a wonderful family that has just done so much for Long Island and families and kids going through cancer treatments. They are one of my favorites.
John: Yes, they are high on the list.
Bobby: They do a lot for Contractors For Kids, which is a long island-based charity. The Michael Magro Foundation supports local families that are going through a lot of different issues and problems with kids that are sick. I could go on and on, the list is huge, but they all hit your heart in a different way. We really take a lot of pride in learning about what the charity’s mission is, what they do, because not only do we help them with auction items and fundraising, but we also try to get the word out about them and any kind of support we can. It could be future donors or sponsors, it may be getting the word out, so people know about the charity and maybe they need those services that the charity provides. It is all about doing good things whenever we can.
John: I agree with you, the Michael Magro Foundation is really something special. I just featured a story about Terrie Magro last month. So, what do you see in the future for auctioneering with charity events now that we have COVID and the fear that it is going to return this winter?
Bobby: The way that I look at it is that we have been using virtual auctions and mobile bidding, for example at the Michael Magro Foundation Golf Outing yesterday, and that went incredibly well. I believe that regardless of when COVID passes, hopefully, next year, mobile bidding has tremendous staying power. With the option, you can get pre-bidding and awareness about the items the charity has before the event and roll it in and then end the auction the night of the event. I think it is a great model regardless, but it’s a necessary one right now. Now that the golf outing season is over there is not going to be any galas in person, they will all be virtual, and will all have the mobile bidding. But moving forward to next year, even when COVID is over, there’s going to be the whole spectrum of people that range from not really wanting to leave their house or being in crowds, to people that are very comfortable leaving their house, so the idea that you can get both types of people from the comfort of their own home, in their office or wherever they’re comfortable, as well as people at the event, you’re getting the best of both worlds. That is why I really think mobile bidding is particularly important through the winter, and it’s going to have a tremendous impact and staying power for the future.
John: You have obviously converted very well to do this virtual environment.
Bobby: Yes, it definitely took some pivoting and some deep thought about our direction, but we definitely have seen see nice success with results and it’s definitely the path that we are going to continue to follow.
John: I want to congratulate you on being nominated as a Model Citizen for all you do for all of the Long Island charities and we look forward to hearing more from you in the future.
Bobby: I really appreciate it. It’s an honor to speak with you and be involved with this magazine and I really just thank you for your time and your thoughtfulness to have me involved.