Chess for Success

April 30, 2010


About ten years ago, when I first moved to Portland, I helped put together a community event for the opening of the Eastbank Esplanade.  One of the organizations participating that year was Chess for Success. Watching the many children play chess on the day of the event and witnessing the level of concentration that goes into the game regardless of all of the activity going on around them, I began to truly understand their mission: to help children develop skills necessary in school and life by learning chess.

{Willamette Week's Richard Meeker and Johnna Wells introduce the Auction Packages together}

{Willamette Week's Richard Meeker and Johnna Wells introduce the Auction Packages together}

The Chess for Success auction, A Knight to Remember, took place last night at The Nines. It was an exciting night for our BA360 Team because Erin Doherty Ward, one of our affiliate Auctioneers flew in from New York City to be with us this weekend.

{Working the event from the BA360 team were (from left to right): Erin Doherty Ward, Johnna Wells, and Joshua Wells}

{Working the event from the BA360 team were (from left to right): Erin Doherty Ward, Johnna Wells, and her brother Joshua Wells}

The guest speaker of the night, a Chess for Success success story, really brought the house down with his speech. This young man has a certain career in Public Relations and/or Speech Writing if he so chooses.

guest speaker_chess for success

Did you know that Chess for Success is one of the most effective youth organizations in Portland at accomplishing their mission? At the amount of only $75 per child (and that’s the cost to the organization – it is free for the child), students can become involved in a life-changing opportunity!

Benefit Auctions 360 is Growing in More Ways Than One!

April 22, 2010


Shortly after winning the prestigious title of 2005 International Auctioneer Champion, Johnna Wells founded Benefit Auctions 360. At the time, the venture was a one-woman operation, but Wells went into it with a grander scheme in mind for the future.

“The name Benefit Auctions 360 actually came out of my vision to work with organizations throughout their entire sphere of auction and event planning. To offer a full range of fundraising services geared towards benefit auctions of all shapes and sizes – 360 degrees of consultation and assistance if you will. This process ensures that we are able to provide organizations with the most effective and cutting edge fundraising tools and strategies for their upcoming auction and event.” – Johnna Wells

Over the past five years since the launch of her business, the Benefit Auctions 360 calendar began to fill up and Johnna seized the opportunity to carry out her original vision. Growing the business was a decision that she has navigated carefully and over time, but has since selected a handful of highly reputable Auctioneers and Consultants whose personalities and experiences match the Benefit Auctions 360 philosophy.

In addition to our founder and Principal Fundraising Auctioneer, Johnna Wells, Benefit Auctions 360 has grown to take on three additional Associate Auctioneers: Michelle LeBlanc Leckert, Erin Doherty Ward, and Randy Wells. We have also enlisted two Auction Consultants: Keely Edmonson Montgomery and Judith Rizzio. (Bios are available on our website at under Company Profile).

Subsequent to the expansion of our company, Benefit Auctions 360 updated our website in late 2009 to reflect the changes. We have also recently added this blog to the site as a tool to provide our clients with helpful resources and information, such as listings of venues, event recaps, tips on auction planning, vendor profiles, and more!

We have our clients to thank for the success that Benefit Auctions 360 has seen over the past several years and the blog is one way in which we can share our appreciation for their business and to highlight some of the incredible work that they do. While it has been exhilarating to watch our company grow, it is has been equally as inspiring to witness how the many organizations we get to partner with in our work have flourished.

All of this growth could not have come at a more perfect time! While working on expanding her company over the past few years, Johnna has also been working on expanding her family at home. She and her long-time partner, Scott Conger, Executive Director of RideOn and Program Supervisor at Janus Youth Programs, are proud to announce that they are expecting a baby in October of this year! Johnna plans to work through late September and will be back to fast-talking again in November, followed by some down time during the Winter holiday season with her new family before auction season picks up again in the Spring.

April 17th: National Auctioneers Day

April 18, 2010

history of auctions

Did you know that the third Saturday in April has been declared National Auctioneers Day? Well it’s true! In the spirit of celebration for one of America’s oldest professions, we thought it would be fun to share a few facts about the industry:

  • The Live Auction industry contributes approximately a quarter-trillion dollars in sales to the US economy each year.
  • Professional Auctioneers conduct auctions every day in communities throughout the nation.
  • 97% of attendees feel that auctions are fun!

To read more studies and information surrounding the benefit auction industry specifically, visit the “press” page on our website for access to several interesting articles.

DoveLewis’ Boutiques Unleashed

April 11, 2010
{seth aaron henderson and smokey the llama}

{seth aaron henderson and smokey the llama}

On Friday, April 9th, our lovely Miss Wells modeled and auctioned for the Boutiques Unleashed event to raise money for DoveLewisPet Loss Support Program – a cause so many of us pet owners can empathize with.

In short, the organization pairs several of Portland’s media personalities with a pet and a boutique and puts together a unique fashion show experience. Both human and animal strut their stuff on the catwalk, turned llamawalk, turned bunnywalk, turned dogwalk…you get the idea.  One of the many special guests who designed high fashion apparel for the event to fit a llama and a bunny, was Portland’s own Seth Aaron Henderson from Project Runway (pictured above).

Johnna Wells and her dog Oliver on the runway

{Johnna Wells and her dog Oliver on the runway}

We would like for you to meet the BA360 mascot, Oliver, who is pictured above showing off his tricks!  Oliver comes into the office with Johnna on most days of the week and serves as our constant reminder to take it easy. He and Johnna have enjoyed being a part of the Boutiques Unleashed show for the past few years.

backstage_hair and makeup

{Hair and Makeup - Backstage at Boutiques Unleashed}

A favorite moment of mine from the event was heading backstage to watch both the pets and humans being groomed in the “Hair and Makeup” area. Above you can see that Sir Sean Connery (yes, that is the dog’s real name), the white, fluffy, poodle is being primed and primped for the runway.

{patrons peruse the silent auction table}

{patrons peruse the silent auction table}

In addition to the Live and Silent Auction, we often suggest that clients include other opportunities of giving throughout the event. Raffles can be appealing (DoveLewis raffled off a gorgeous 14k white-gold ring with a 2k genuine blue topaz, surrounded by brilliant 1/3k round diamonds – valued at $5,000), or a Wine Wall (shown below). You can see by the empty racks that the Wine Wall is a popular addition to their event).

{the wine wall}

{the wine wall}

Congratulations to DoveLewis for a successful, sold-out show! For more coverage of the show, visit PDX Neat Sheet!

{these twin girls were just too cute on the runway}

{these twin girls were just too cute on the runway}

{Physical Element's owner Jo Carter know how to strike a pose}

{Physical Element's owner Jo Carter know how to strike a pose}

{This young man is a natural}

{This young man is a natural}


Welcome Auctioneer, Erin Doherty Ward, B.A.S., C.A.I.

April 2, 2010
{Erin Doherty Ward works the crowd}

{Erin Doherty Ward works the crowd}

This post is long overdue, but Benefit Auctions 360 would like to introduce our associate Auctioneer, Erin Doherty Ward, and welcome her to our team! Erin is a highly trained Benefit Auction Specialist and Third Generation Auctioneer out of Long Island, New York.

We recently received two videos, that cover some exciting projects that both Erin Doherty Ward and her mother Jill Doherty have been involved in:

Video #1) This video, created in 2009 by artist Doug Aitken called “The Handle Comes Up The Hammer Comes Down,” shares an incredibly unique and thrilling performance by several auctioneers, including our lovely Erin Doherty Ward and her mother Jill Doherty at the Basel Opera in Switzerland.

the handle comes up the hammer comes down

Video #2) This second video link, directed by Jesse Reding Fleming during an event at the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), New York on February 2, 2007. Doug Aitken and PopRally produced the event, which included a reception, musical performances by Cat Power, and street performers Ryan Donowho and Dishan Bharoocha, storytelling by Melissa Plout and other surprise guests. The female auctioneer you see in this video is Jill Doherty.