Howie Schwartz has run Grandstand Sports & Memorabilia (GSM) and over the course of that time, he estimates that he has raised over $100 million dollars that has gone to charities such as the Make a Wish Foundation, the Ronald McDonald House, and the ALS Foundation, to name a few. Each year, Schwartz runs charity fundraising programs for over 1,000 nonprofits offering the organizations this unique selling proposition: nobody he works for pays him. GSM covers all their own travel expenses and doesn’t take any money from any auction items supplied by the charity. Schwartz is the industry leading auctioneer who only requires a microphone and a stage. His outstanding personality, professionalism, and passion to help others comes through at every charity event that GSM has a presence at.
I had the opportunity to sit down with this quick witted, dynamic celebrity auctioneer and realized that the job as a celebrity auctioneer isn’t for the faint of heart and how auction services really help the charities garner additional funds. Howie certainly has a bigger than life personality and I see why he’s one of the best in the business.
Q: What are the benefits of using GSM Auction Services?
HS: GSM is unique in that we offer a “ONE STOP SOLUTION” for ALL Organizations to take advantage from. We are the ONLY Company in the World who provides EVERYTHING an organization needs for FREE including FREE Travel for our professional Auction Staff to any event in the US, the Top-Rated Charity Auctioneer for FREE, FREE coordination of both the Silent & Live Auction inclusive of handling the Charities Donated items, and more. Our FREE Charity Auction Services are offered fully turnkey and raise MILLIONS of dollars annually while saving Organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars in hiring other Companies to facilitate their fundraising auction at their respective events.
Q: What has led to the success of GSM Charity Auctions Services, Inc.?
HS: I believe we have a plethora of factors that have led to our success:
1) Having started this “Win-Win/NO COST” service over 25 years ago, has provided us the experience to see which strategies have worked and which haven’t
2) Having been in the space for so many years, GSM has been fortunate to make the most amazing relationships with Villa Owners, Celebrity Chef’s, Athletes, Celebrities and more, to create the most amazing VIP Experiences for guests to bid on at charity events; and of course, the charities themselves continue to benefit from these Bucket List Offerings.
3) The GSM staff has been in the business on average for over 15 years as well. These are highly educated and dedicated professionals who understand and work with the specific needs of ALL our clients and can customize and tailor the auctions to each organization.
Q: You work with so many charitable organizations. Which one specifically stands out?
HS: One Event/Organization that has provided me personally the most WOW factor is the Kidney Foundation. I’ve been working with them for close to 20 years now. When we started chronic kidney disease was not receiving the awareness and support it truly should have for affecting so many people as it does. Twenty years ago, there were no viable treatments or cures. With the funds we helped raise at each of their events over the last two decades, there are no (2) viable drugs which are both effective and changing patients’ lives – allowing them to manage the disease and LIVE a full life whereas before this was not possible. To realize I have helped bring life altering impactful drugs to market, is an amazing feeling for me.
Q: What do you consider your dream job?
HS: I would call this my “Dream Job” because aside from truly enjoying what I do, I can’t imagine there are many businesses out there where I could both raise funds for so many worthy causes and still make a living simultaneously.
Q: Share with us some of the athletes and celebrities who you have worked with throughout the years.
HS: I’ve worked with so many Athletes/Celebrities over the years who have been affiliated with various causes, but Ryan Zimmerman and James Gandolfini really stood out.
Ryan Zimmerman – former 3B and Captain of the World Series Champion Washington Nationals. Ryan created the ziMS Foundation to support MS (Multiple Sclerosis) as Ryan’s Mom is afflicted with the disease. The fundraising event takes place at Washington Nationals Stadium each year. Ryan is the ONLY Player in MLB History who, as part of his Players Contract includes that he can use the Stadium ONE night to host his event and raise critical funds for MS Research. In a show of incredible support, while MLB players have so few nights off during the 162-game regular season, ALL of Ryan’s teammates come to the event and are some of the most active bidders in the Auction. In addition, I’ve had the good fortune of leading the Live Auction ON the Pitcher’s Mound which is the ONLY way I understand I’d ever have the opportunity to “pitch” anything from that location!
James Gandolfini – The former Sopranos Star who unfortunately passed away was truly one of the most generous individuals I’d ever met. While James played a “Tough” guy on TV, that couldn’t be more opposite to who James was off camera. James would attend many charitable events and was a huge football fan himself. At one event benefiting Breast Cancer, James was in a bidding war for several signed football helmets we had on display in the Auction. What started out at around $1,000, had gone back and forth between James and one of the donors to about $3,000. James then bids $10,000 on the autographed helmet and his “competitor” understandably had realized defeat. Fast forward an hour later when the Auction closed, James came up to pay for his winning bids including the Helmet. After paying for his Winning Bids, James took the Helmet and handed it to his competitor whom James had never met before that evening and THANKED him for his support of Breast cancer as well. James outbid the guy and voluntarily gave him the helmet anyway. I thought that was incredible!
Q: How do you handle the public?
HS: One of the “take-aways” I’ve learned when handling the Public is to let them know I am one of them. Whether I am on stage leading the Live Auction and/or Pledge, it’s important to me that the audience understands WE are in this together. I may be the voice on stage for 20 minutes, but I am still PART of ONE family trying to raise funds to positively impact the Organizations initiatives; whether that be research, transportation for patients to receive treatments, housing for those underserved, etc.
Q: What advice can you share for the people who like to bid on the silent auction?
HS: My best advice in trying to win your bids in the Silent Auction is bid EARLY. Try and be the FIRST to bid on an item, because often I see others wanting to bid on items that don’t have initial competitive bids. When you go first, you are then in the driver’s seat to go last!
Q: Please share with us the details for the upcoming Meet & Greet on December 5 at Wallace Hall in Manhattan with Zach Wilson (NY Jets Quarterback) and Daniel Jones (NY Giants Quarterback).
HS: This will be a super exciting night given the fact of how well both New York teams are playing. The night will begin at 5:30pm and will go to 8:30pm. Zach Wilson and Daniel Jones will be available for a fun and interactive experience with the fans. Guests will walk the red carpet, take photos with each player, receive an autographed photo, and join in on a Q & A. There will be great food, open bar, and videos. Kids are welcome to attend as there is no age restriction. Further, there will be an OJ Anderson (2x Super Bowl Champion) will attend and join us for this special night. Fans can buy tickets by calling (212) 532-8900 x228.
Q: Tell us about the upcoming Sopranos event.
HS: We have a Meet/Greet event with some of the Sopranos Stars on March 14th, 2023, taking place at Tony’s DiNapoli in Times Square NYC. Folks can inquire about tickets by calling (212) 532-8900 ext. 228.
Howie has worked with over 5,000 charities and has helped to raise over 20 million annually for Organizations worldwide. THIS service DOES exist, and GSM can increase your revenue by up to 5x as much as in previous years. Sounds like a win/win to me!
For more details on GSM Charity Auctions provide and for tickets, please call (212) 532-8900 ext. 228.