By Remy Sisk
As regular a fixture on the society scene as designer dresses and rare jewelry is Bill Menish, the owner of Menish Auction Group, a nationwide fundraising consulting and auction firm headquartered in Louisville. The organization is dedicated to helping nonprofits exceed their expectations, and as of late, Menish has seen truly record-breaking success. Since June 2017, Menish Auction Group has conducted 11 record-setting fundraising auctions in a row nationwide.
Though Menish’s current success is indicative of a gift in the field, his career actually began in broadcast journalism. In 2007, Menish was an anchor at a station in San Diego and was actively pursuing a similar position in Chicago. However, he had a reckoning moment when another player in the industry intimated that the broadcast journalism market was changing and salaries were shrinking. Consequently, Menish began pondering the possibility of a major career shift.
Menish used to frequently emcee events and fundraisers in San Diego, and an auctioneer once told him he had missed his calling and should be an auctioneer. Then, through a fateful series of events, Menish decided with confidence that it was indeed the path he wanted to follow. “My wife thought I was nuts when I told her I wanted to give my notice and leave the anchor desk for the auctioneer’s podium and start my own business,” he recounts. “On the extra day of a leap year, February 29, 2008, I made a giant leap, saying goodbye to 20 years in television news and hello to professional fundraising and auctioneering, and I have never looked back. It was the best decision I ever made.”
Now, almost 10 years later, Menish Auction Group is breaking records and helping nonprofits around the country raise more money than ever before. Menish thinks a good amount of this success is due to the company’s emphasis on consulting as it strives to be in on the planning process, helping clients set themselves up for the greatest fundraising possible.
However, it also has a lot to do with how the team conducts the auctions themselves when it comes down to the main event. Menish emphasizes that the team has the right strategies to truly raise as much as possible. “Our secret to success is we never stop learning and sharing what we learn,” he says. “We create ‘Ice Breaker Money Maker Games’ that kick off our performance on stage. The games entertain the crowd and raise thousands to tens of thousands of dollars before the auction even starts. We end our auctions asking if the crowd has given everything they can. Then we surprise them with a game that gets them to give more and has raised as much as $30,000 more.”
At the end of the day for Menish, it’s the success his auctions create that truly gratify him – not his own personal accomplishments. Ultimately, it is his genuine passion for helping others that has created so much resounding success that is changing the world. “I have flown with the Blue Angels, interviewed multiple U.S. presidents and met more TV and movie stars than I can remember. But there is nothing like helping a nonprofit achieve or even exceed their goals – life-altering goals,” he maintains. “Today, my work helps them search for cures, build hospitals and change lives for the better. I love what I do, but I love how what I do helps others the most.” VT