Monday, May 24, 2021

With every single fundraising event which has tickets to attend, the same question pops up time and time again - should you “Comp” or give someone free tickets to attend?  This “Myth vs. Facts” blog hopefully will answer your questions.

 Here are a few things for you to consider when contemplating “Comping” tickets:

#1 – There is really no such thing as “Free Tickets” – Someone somewhere will actually be paying for those free tickets.  If you have costs with your event, those costs will have to be covered.  Normally, the costs are covered by ticket sales.  However, if you are giving away tickets, who is going to pay for the tickets you gave away?

#2 – Free Tickets to someone who donates an item or items – You may ask someone for a donation of an item or items for you auction or raffles.  As an example – the price of your ticket is $75.00 per person with your actual cost (which you have to pay out for food etc.) is $50.00.  The donor will give you and item which “Retails” for $150.00 and requests 2 free tickets.  So in this instance, it appears that you will be profiting $50.00.  Since you can not control what an item sells for in an auction, you place the item in your auction and it only sells for $75.00 instead of $150.00…you just lost $25.00.  This is what is referred to as an “In Kind” donation – someone gives you something and “In Kind” you give them something. 

#3 – “No Skin in the Game” – When people pay for tickets, they will attend your event because they spent money.  However, if you give someone free tickets, they have nothing invested so there is really nothing promising they will attend.  The day of your event, something comes up, they may not attend since they spent nothing on the tickets.  You are then left with paying for the spots and also empty seats. 

#4 – They will spend money at the event to cover the cost of the free tickets – There is absolutely no proof this will or does occur, this is a Myth.  Consider this – if you need to give someone free tickets to attend, should you have them at your event in the first place?  If they wanted to come and support you, they would most definitely buy tickets.  But they need free tickets to show their support such as politicians, athletes and celebrities…or simply people you know.  You can ask them to spend money there but you can’t force them. 

#5 – Is taking people to a party a part of the mission of your charity? – This is a common practice in certain arenas to give away free tickets to the people who a charities mission involves.  For instance, I (George Wooden) am a US Marine Corps Veteran and a retired Police Officer.  Charities who serve veterans and first responders normally help with mental health, medical needs, doctor bills etc., but their mission is not to take these heroes to a party.   If a charity who helps either veterans or first responders gives away free tickets to them to attend a fundraiser, even if someone else buys tickets to give to them, would it not be a better practice to use that donated money for the mission of the charity to help them and sell those tickets to supporters who will donate to help raise more money?

Remember, think of your mission first and why you are hosting a fundraiser.  Aren’t you trying to raise money?  Also, there is no such thing as a free ticket – someone will have to pay for that person to attend and more times than not, it’s your charity.  You’re far better off raising money to fund the mission of your charity. 

BW Unlimited Charity Fundraising is a North American charity fundraising leader in a convenient “One Shop” setting.  We help charities like yours all across the country host highly profitable fundraisers from coast to coast.  If we can help you, contact us at 443.206.6121 or go to our website at


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