A common myth with charities across North America is in regard to either "Comping" people or giving guests "FREE TICKETS."
Many believe that "Comping" people a ticket, they will attend your event and spend the money they would have paid for the ticket and more. It’s also believed that by “Comping” them tickets, they will have the understanding that they need to spend or donate money because they know they were provided the ticket for free.
Many times, charities will give influential or affluent people “FREE TICKETS” thinking they will make large donations.
The next part of the charity myth is that it’s a great practice when a company, group or individual purchases tickets to give away to others, most likely to those who can not afford to attend or purchase the event ticket.
Another part of the myth is called an “In Kind” donation. Now my definition may be different than yours but what I believe it is, is when someone donates an item in exchange for event tickets of the same value.
MYTH “BUSTED”: Why is this a bad practice?
First, when you give away “Free Tickets”, you must understand that you are still paying for the cost of their meal and drinks. In reality, the ticket is not free, you are paying their way ultimately.
Second, when you give someone a “Free Ticket”, there is no clear expectation to spend or donate money. In fact, over 12 years of professional fundraising, I have never seen this to be true.
Part (2) of the above is even worse, when people are provided “Free Tickets”, they made no investment and may decide not to attend. They may want to stay at home, do yardwork or whatever – they spent nothing, so not attending is a clear option. Think about this point – is it sufficient to have someone buy a table and the seats are empty at your event? No, it’s not at all.
Third, if someone needs a “Free Ticket” to attend, most likely they can not afford to come. Do you want someone to attend your “Fundraising” event who can not even afford your event ticket? No, because they also will not be able to afford to donate or bid on anything at your event. A mid to high priced ticket is what I refer to as a “Financial” hurdle – if they can afford to buy the ticket, they can afford to donate. It’s a fundraiser, right?
Fourth, it sounds like a really nice thing to do when an individual or company purchases a ticket to give away to people. At it’s face, that sounds like such a nice thing to do. But, if those same people could not afford to come – Refer back to #1, #2 and #3. You need people to jump over your financial hurdle.
Fifth, if someone ever says “I’ll donate this item to you that retails for $150.00 if you give me the same amount back in tickets (you are selling tickets for $75.00 a piece.” The one aspect of fundraising is that donated items historically across North America bring 1/8 to 1/4 of retail in any Live or Silent Auction. You take the offer and place the item on your Silent or Live Auction and it only sells for $30.00 or less, possibly no one bids. Let’s say your paying $50.00 a person to the Caterer, you just lost either $120.00 retail in your ticket prices or $70.00 in the true cost. Do not ever do this.
In closing, remember, you are hosting a fundraiser. By giving away tickets, you are literally taking money out of your own pocket to pay for that “FREE TICKET” which truly does not exist. Someone has to pay for it. Where are you going to take the money from to pay for the “FREE TICKET”? Are you going to take it away from the mission of the charity? There is no such thing as a “FREE TICKET” and it is a horrible practice to give anyone free tickets.
Secondarily, even though it sounds nice when someone buys a table or tickets to give them away to the less fortunate, but then the same rules apply. They may not even come, leaving you with empty seats. Then, they could not afford to come and won’t be able to donate to your charity. They will come eat, drink and have fun and that’s it. Before you give away tickets or “Comp” anyone, think about what we just discussed first prior to agreeing to it. If you decide to do it, remember I warned you!!!
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