Newspaper Articles

Tyson Fundraising has been featured in both the Austin American Statesman newspaper (April 2015) and the San Antonio Express newspaper (2012).

From The Austin American-Statesman Newspaper

Chris Tyson’s love of sports and stars makes money for charities
Broker of sports memorabilia and other auction items started as sheer fan.

By Michael Barnes – American-Statesman Staff
Updated: 1:11 p.m. Wednesday, April 22, 2015

tysonOn Jan. 15, 1978, young Chris Tyson’s dad sat him down in front of the television set.

“Son, the Dallas Cowboys are the greatest football team ever,” Tony Tyson, these days a retired U.S. Army major, said. “I want you to watch this game.”

“I liked sports,” Chris Tyson says. “But that day I fell in love with sports and with that team. I thought it would be cool to meet Dorsett and Staubach. Later in life, that would come to be.”

As an adult, volunteering at a Dallas-area charity golf tournament, Tyson gushed when he met his gridiron heroes. He also noticed that other fans urged the Hall of Famers to sign stuff. He resolved to return the next year and do the same.

“I recently went shopping for trucks,” he says. “After, I told my business partners: ‘Someday, we’re going to have a fleet of trucks.’ That’s how I think: I dream.”

One of five kids raised by father Tony and mother Dorothy Elaine Talley Tyson, he confesses to having been a “painfully extroverted” child.

He played every sport possible until he blew out his knee while dunking a basketball. He is still active, but on a strictly recreational basis.

He majored in business marketing at Cameron University in Lawton, Okla., then held various managerial positions before moving to the Austin area in the 1990s.

While at a sports network event, a golf tournament coordinator overheard him talking about his memorabilia collection and asked whether he would bring items and set up a silent auction.

“Everything had a bid on it,” Tyson says about the 2001 event. “That seldom happens.”

Not knowing how silent auctions worked, he simply split the proceeds 50/50 with the charity. He still does that, except on larger items that require extra investment, like custom frames.

For some time after that, Tyson provided auction items for five or so events a year. He branched out into galas and banquets, adding more jerseys, pictures and balls. By 2010, he was supplying 22 events annually while retaining his corporate day job. The next year, he entered fundraising full time.

Tyson says anything “Longhorns” sells in Austin, especially if it is attached to the name Mack Brown, Darrell Royal, Vince Young, Ricky Williams or Earl Campbell, and now Jordan Spieth. On the acting side, Matthew McConaughey is a draw. In music, the prized goods are signed guitars or CDs by Willie Nelson, Ray Benson, Dale Watson or Jimmie Vaughan.

What about San Antonio?

“They’re so rabid about the Spurs, it’s crazy,” Tyson says. “In a good way, obviously.”

Dallas still adores Dorsett, Staubach and the Boys, including comparative newcomers Dez Bryant and Tony Romo. In Houston, what sells is anything “Luv Ya Blue” or Campbell-related. J.J. Watt from the Houston Texans is also big.

Tyson figures he’s raised half a million dollars for charity. While spreading the wealth, he still loves meeting celebrities and landing their autographs.

“As kid, I wanted to be a movie star,” he says. “I’m still starstruck. I always try to get two; one for my personal collection, one for fundraising.”


From The San Antonio Express Newspaper

Autograph collector supplies nonprofits with auction items
By Richard A. Marini
Updated 10:14 p.m., Sunday, August 12, 2012

Read more:

The silent auction table is a sports fan’s dream come true. Framed and signed Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili jerseys rub shoulders with a Masters flag autographed by Fred Couples. For old-school fans, there’s a signed photo of former Cowboy Daryl “Moose” Johnston and a basketball inscribed by Spurs great David Robinson, complete with a Scripture addendum.

The auction offers enticements for the nonsports fan, too, including a guitar signed by Willie Nelson and autographed photos of comedian George Lopez, actress Eva Longoria, musician Merle Haggard and other celebs.

The table is set up for a Knights of Columbus Last Man Standing event, a fundraiser for the group’s Habitat for Humanity build. As attendees arrive, many make a beeline to the table to scan the offerings and, in a few cases, enter opening bids.

The jerseys, programs, balls and other autographed collectibles were not donated by the players or celebrities themselves. Nor were they collected by KoC members. Instead, they were supplied by Chris Tyson, owner of Austin-based Tyson Sports Fundraising.

A peripatetic sports fan, Tyson has ingeniously parlayed what he describes as a “hobby on steroids” – collecting autographed memorabilia – into a thriving business supplying signed swag to boost the fundraising efforts of needy nonprofits.

The arrangement works like this: Tyson collects signed memorabilia from current and former athletes during public appearances, before games, at events such as celebrity golf tournaments or wherever else he can get close enough to press a Sharpie into a willing hand.

He then offers a carefully curated selection of his collection to nonprofit organizations for them to sell, usually as part of a live or silent auction during a fundraising event. In most cases, Tyson splits the proceeds 50/50 with the organization. So if that signed Tim-Duncan-in-a-frame sells for the opening bid of $700, the nonprofit makes $350.

Not everything Tyson offers is so pricey. Unframed jerseys start at $300 to $400, and the opening bid for a game-day program signed by second-tier Spurs such as Kawhi Leonard and Matt Bonner is as low as $50.

“We love working with Chris,” says Jim Wade of the Knights of Columbus. “We don’t have to knock on doors to collect stuff for the silent auction. He brings plenty of items of interest, and we share in the profits.”

Wade said the Knights netted about $2,000 from silent auction sales during last year’s event.

The 50/50 split is “more than fair,” said Mary Carriker, head of First Tee of San Antonio, which teaches young people confidence through golf. “We wouldn’t be able to get the kind of memorabilia Chris brings on our own.”

The most expensive item Tyson has ever sold, a Nolan Ryan framed jersey, went for $3,000 at a Rodeo Austin fundraiser.

When items don’t sell – every piece carries a minimum bid – the organization isn’t out any money. Tyson simply returns it to his collection to be offered at a later date.

“We hear from companies all the time that want to sell us stuff on consignment, sculptures, tickets to events like the Masters,” says J.D. Damian of the American Wounded Heroes, which supports wounded military veterans. “I’d much rather deal with someone locally like Chris.”

Five years ago, Tyson was a manager with Austin Energy when he attended a sports networking event. The executive director of a charity overheard him talking about his collection of sports memorabilia and asked if he’d bring some items to auction off at a golf tournament planned for the next week. He did, and they were such a big hit he launched Tyson Sports Fundraising.

Tyson did five events that first year and 53 in 2011. This year he expects to do 70.