January 29, 2016 How to Price Tickets for Your Fundraising Event
We are in full-blown consulting mode here at C King Benefit Auctions with our spring nonprofit clients. Recently we’ve been in discussions with many of them about ticket prices. While I don’t get deep into these discussions, I do guide our clients from a fundraising perspective.
I recommend a nonprofit consider several things when setting ticket prices for their fundraising event.
Guests’ attendance at your fundraising event accomplishes two objectives. First, it allows your nonprofit the opportunity to share your mission and begin cultivating those guests from mere attendees into loyal donors. You’ll need to strike a balance between educating your new potential donors about your mission with fundraising among your already “seasoned” patrons who are already passionate about your mission. The second objective, of course, is that of raising funds for your nonprofit.
Mentality – When ticket prices are set on the low end it has an impact on your guests’ mentality. Think about it – if you purchase an expensive ticket to a nonprofit’s event, you attend the event with the expectation that you will spend money because it’s a fundraiser and that’s the purpose of your attendance. However, when a guest purchases a ticket with a lower price they attend your event with the mindset that they’ll get a great meal just for showing up to support your nonprofit. The price you assign to your tickets can mean a huge difference when it comes to the expectations of your attendees.
Getting the Right People to Your Event – As a fundraising auctioneer, I would much rather see 100 affluent, philanthropic guests who are passionate about a nonprofit’s mission attend an event than 800 people in attendance for a meal and a “fun night out”. Nonprofits need to be strategic in who they target to invite to their events. Seek out people who are affluent, passionate about your cause and well-connected. Have those in your group who are acquainted with the targeted person invite them to the event, asking them to sit at their table. And ask them to bring a friend. You want people in the audience with money to spend and the willingness to spend it.
Early Bird Pricing – When pricing your tickets, one thing you might consider is developing two price points – regular pricing and early bird pricing. Early bird pricing can be in place until a month or so in advance of your event. This pricing would save ticket purchasers $10, $20 or even $50 per person. I’m not advocating discounting your ticket price, only creating an incentive for guests to purchase early and save money. Another plus to early bird pricing is that without as many last-minute ticket sales your auction team can better plan (and therefore sleep better).
A Good Rule of Thumb – I suggest you create an expense budget for your event. Write down every expense – include the cost of table cloths, decorations, table rental, venue, food/catering, etc. Now budget for how many guests you expect will attend the event. Divide your budget by the number of people estimated to attend and “voila!” – you’ve got the price of your ticket. For example, if your expenses total $10,000 and you plan for 100 people your early bird ticket price per person would be $100. Fair warning – before you set that price in stone you’ll want to determine if that ticket price is within reason for your demographics.
Ticket prices for your fundraising event is one critical element to establishing the right mental mind set of your guests in order to maximize your nonprofit’s fundraising potential.
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