The Kingston Effect

Receiving sad news about a dear friend, who was also a very highly respected industry leader,  is always difficult.

On Friday, January 31st, we at Greater Giving felt shock waves rolling through our company with receiving the call that Kathy Kingston had passed away peacefully in her sleep. Kathy was the founder and principal of Kingston Auction Company and was a powerhouse of energy, compassion and knowledge. As the fundraising auction community learns of her passing there is a great sense of loss all over the U.S. in the auction industry as well as philanthropic organizations.

Whether you knew Kathy personally or not, she has touched numerous lives through her deep knowledge of fundraising & auctions.  She came to us in 2004 when we were a brand-new company, less than two years old.  She saw something in us when we only had one product – our credit card terminals.  Kathy along with a small handful of others in the fundraising world were instrumental in Auctionpay growing into Greater Giving.  She taught us about fundraising, she taught us what nonprofits needed to raise more. She taught us to be more, to do more, to care more. She started out as a business partner but became a friend to many of us here at Greater Giving.

Through the years, Kathy taught numerous benefit auctioneers in the industry with her specialized programs and was a sought-after speaker with national fundraising organizations. Kathy seemed to be everywhere and enjoyed sharing her best practices with everyone that wanted to make the world a better place. We have seen her at the National Auctioneers Association raising money. We’ve taken classes from her and we’ve taught classes with her. She shared her knowledge with nonprofits as well. Kathy was such a gracious mentor in the business.

Kathy had a gift – a gift I have never seen to the same degree in anyone before.  This wonderful woman could unlock your story to impel donors to fall in love with your cause.  I never saw her fail when she went to work on someone, teaching them how to find what mattered and teaching them how to communicate it. I call it the “Kingston Effect”. I can think of three very distinct times I saw someone get the full Kingston treatment.

The first time I saw Kathy in action, I was at an early Benefit Auction Summit, a national event for fundraising auctioneers that wanted to share and grow their industry knowledge and grow their business. Kathy was teaching us about the art of the ask.  A gentleman volunteered to do his appeal and she asked him to tell us what he was raising money for.  The client was the Grey Ladies. Unfortunately, no one in the room could understand who the Grey Ladies were or why raising funds for them was important.  Kathy worked with him for quite some time and the process was getting uncomfortable.  She did not give up.  What she eventually drew out by asking direct, simple questions was that the Grey Ladies were a group of women who brought toys and spent time with children who were hospitalized that were far away from home. This auctioneer, as a child, was a lonely little boy who had been in the hospital for three years was helped by the kindness the Grey Ladies had given. They were important to him because they had cared for him. The refined story that Kathy brought to life brought the room to tears.  She unlocked his story and revealed The Kingston Effect.

The second time – fast forward several years to a series of seminars on the east coast. Kathy brought together some people from a nonprofit to come up front to share their message.  By the time they finished – they each struck a pose that represented the ask and made a very simple statement, something along the lines of “We are here to…. So That….”. Every other nonprofit attendee was silent, stunned at how we were feeling and how clear we understood what this group was about and why we should give. Through Kathy’s ability to craft a highly personalized story The Kingston Effect had unlocked their mission & message.

The third time I witnessed the Kingston Effect was when Kathy was in our booth at AFP sharing “The Art of the Ask” . She gently coaxed a gentleman walking by the booth to come in and to help with an example. She first asked him to share what he raised funds for and then proceeded to craft “The Ask” for his group by asking for more information.  With detective-like skills, within just a few minutes she stepped back to have him reveal an empowered messaged. He had a stunned look on his face – He’d felt the Kingston effect!  She had unlocked a perfect stranger’s story in moments.  We were all thrilled to watch the transformation as he clearly communicated to a group of strangers, he had never met what his mission was, why it mattered and why we should give.

Kathy shared this gift all over the country, to nonprofits, and auction professionals.  She touched THOUSANDS of lives and raised millions of dollars. Kathy taught us to unlock the stories that make donors fall in love with our causes. Her glowing smile, her sparkling green eyes, her laughter can only now be seen in videos, but her gift will continue to change lives because she changed all of us. The Kingston Effect sent out a ripple that traveled far. If you asked Kathy why she would help with anyone who would listen, she would often use a revised version of JFK’s “a rising tide lifts all boats” with her own quote of  “When the tide rises, all our boats float”.

Miss K – thank you for unlocking our stories.  Thank you for the gift of your friendship, your talent and your desire to create a change in our world.  We, at Greater Giving are all forever indebted to you.


Kathy Kingston, Auctioneer, Consultant, Speaker, Friend. October 1953 – January 2020

Memorials may be made to the Kingston Fund, a donor-advised fund of the Cape Cod Foundation, created by Kathy in 2006 in loving memory of her parents William and Winifred Kingston. Her nephew and seven nieces, the Board of Advisors study proposals and make annual grant recommendations to fund nonprofit, educational and charitable organizations with an emphasis on helping children and families. For more information: The Kingston Fund Cape Cod Foundation 261 Whites Path, #2, Yarmouth, MA 02664. Please visit

Kathy’s book, ‘A Higher Bid’ is available on and from her website

Kathy’s accomplishments include: 2012 Chuck Cumberlin Memorial Sportsmanship Award and the 2006 Rose Award from the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute.  She earned the Certified Auctioneer Institute (CAI) designation.  Kathy was a charter class member and has been an instructor of the Benefit Auctioneer Specialist (BAS) designation program.  She held a master’s degree in Education from Saint Louis University where in 1986 she was named “Woman of the Year”TM. In 2013, she was inducted into the Million Dollar Consultant Hall of fame.

4 Responses to “The Kingston Effect”

  1. Debby, this is beautiful. I’m gonna miss the “Kingston Effect.” Guess it’s up to us to carry that forward. I know I’ll do my best to keep it going strong.

  2. Thank you for sharing this story. I had the pleasure of knowing Kathy. I met her through her many trainings as well as having her as our auctioneer for one year. She totally changed how we did things in our school auction and we still use a lot of that today. She was the one who taught us about telling a story! She will be so very missed!


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