How to Create a Fundraising Event Pricing Strategy for Nonprofits [+ Examples]

Figuring out the right event pricing strategy for nonprofits is the key to hosting successful fundraising events. But how do you come up with such a strategy, and how do you put it into action? In this article, we'll walk you through developing a solid event pricing strategy, including some ways to sell more tickets using psychology.

9 minutes read
How to Create a Fundraising Event Pricing Strategy for Nonprofits [+ Examples]

Nonprofits hold fundraising events for several reasons, but the primary reason is to raise funds. A vital step to ensuring your event is a success is to find the right price for your event tickets. If your organization has held events in the past, it may be easier to determine ticket prices. If not, you may feel lost and unsure of where to start. A pricing strategy should be focused on determining the right ticket prices for your target audience while also ensuring that ticket sales are substantially boosted with each event.

This article provides a few questions all organizations should ask when deciding on the fundraising event ticket pricing strategy. It also breaks down how psychology can play an important role in pricing and selling your event tickets.

How Do You Price a Fundraising Event?

Whether you’re starting a new event or are wondering if your current ticket prices are too high, there are a few questions you should ask when determining your event pricing strategy. If you’ve been holding the same fundraising event but can’t seem to raise more money, these questions can also help you decide if you can and should raise the ticket price for all levels.

Before you go on to read the questions, we have a free insightful resource to help you with your event ticket pricing – download it for free from the Donorbox Library!

1. How much do you need to raise?

The first step to holding an event is to define your fundraising goal. Determine different ways to raise funds. A few of these will consist of major donor gifts, sponsorships, and planned gifts. An event can help the organization win these gifts. In the early planning stages, you should look at ways your fundraising event can raise funds through ticket sales and determine where the ticket price falls in importance.

2. What is the total cost of the event?

The primary reason to sell tickets to a fundraising event is to cover the cost of the event and then, raise money. There are several expenses with any event. See the following list –

2.1 Location

When searching for a location, it is essential to get quotes from at least 3 different companies before finalizing the location.

2.2 Food

Food can be the second most expensive cost of events. When determining event locations, you can see if there are ways to lower this cost. Does your location require you to use their kitchen, or can you bring outside food? Can you find a sponsor or donor for event food?

2.3 Marketing

Marketing for a fundraising event can include mailed invitations, newspaper and social media ads, and flyers. If your event is held outside, marketing pieces may also have signs and banners.

2.4 Entertainment

If you hope to bring in a large crowd, a popular entertainer can help. Unfortunately, this also means high costs. Some entertainers are willing to perform for nonprofits for free, but other expenses must be included. Will you need to pay for your entertainer’s travel and hotel? Before signing any entertainment contract, make sure you account for all the costs.

2.5 Others

After the 4 highest costs, there are still many event items that can cost your organization money. In many of these cases, you may be able to find in-kind donations. Others are requirements that must be included in your budget.

  • Raffle tickets and permits
  • Silent auction items
  • Technology
  • Volunteer gifts
  • Equipment rentals
  • Printing
  • Tips
  • Insurance

But remember, your strategy is not just about covering the cost of fundraising events and making no revenue for the nonprofit. Ticket sales should eventually help you raise money for furthering your mission, too.

3. What do your competitor’s tickets cost?

Every nonprofit must accept that they have competition for supporters. This competition may be online with other organizations with similar missions and local nonprofits that hold popular events. Knowing what their tickets cost for a similar event will help you take advantage of competitive pricing. This is also useful when you’re trying out a new type of event for your nonprofit. This will give you some insights into their ticket sales and pricing strategies.

4. How much will your donors be willing to pay?

Most nonprofits hold several events throughout the year. By offering different experiences, your nonprofit can target different donor groups and create experiences that work for each. The best way to determine which fundraising events fit your donors is by segmenting donors into different donor types.

Once you have done this, you can determine what donors in these groups have in common and how much they are willing to pay for an event. When deciding on your event ticket cost, research which donors will be interested in this type of event and how much they’d be willing to pay. This will drive ticket sales and help you create different ticket types for your event.

Check out the below example to understand the tiers of tickets they’ve created for different sets of audiences.

event pricing strategy for nonprofits

5. How many tickets can you sell?

The answer to this question may seem obvious, but a nonprofit must hold a few free tickets for event sponsors, major donors, and other important guests in many cases. Remember, a fundraising event should be used to promote the organization and connect with major donors who are likely to give larger amounts to the nonprofit in the future. Losing a few hundred dollars in ticket sales in exchange for thousands of dollars later in the year is wise.

How Can You Use Psychology in Your Ticket Pricing Strategy?

Marketing professionals agree that psychology plays a significant role in selling products. The same applies to ticket sales. When determining the ticket price points for your next event, you can see how other companies use psychology and see if any of these tricks could help you sell more tickets.

1. $9.99 instead of $10

Everyone knows this pricing trick. Pricing a ticket at $9.99 instead of $10 is a common marketing practice that gives purchasers an impression that they’re paying less, even if it’s just a penny. Most attendees won’t even notice, but if you’re interested in seeing if it can make a difference, change the price this year, and see if you sell more tickets.

2. Tiered-ticket pricing

Create different price points for your event tickets. You will always get a better response when offering different ticket prices targeted to the right donor groups. For example, you can have a separate, low-cost ticket level for your virtual event and 3 more levels for general admission, VIP admission, and group admission of your in-person event.

Events lets you add an unlimited number of ticket tiers to your event-ticketing form. You can also input the fair-market value and tax rate to determine the tax-deductibility of all ticket tiers. Showcasing this information on each ticket type ensures that your potential attendees have transparency. They’ll be more likely to buy the tickets.

The below example is of an annual fundraising gala that has two price points for their VIP tickets – gold and silver – and one for individual admission tickets. 

event pricing strategy for nonprofits

3. Ticket giveaways

Who doesn’t want free tickets? Offering free or discounted tickets is an easy way to attract a new audience. The trick is to find a way to use free tickets to encourage more participation and get something in exchange. The best way to do this is to create a contest for people to win free event tickets.

After you’ve picked the winner of the free tickets, you can send a special invitation to every email you received. Offer a discounted price and a special note to say how you hope they’ll join you for the event.

For example, Orthopaedic Relief Services International does it a little differently. The range of multiple tickets includes drawing entries to an attendance contest. Whoever wins the drawing would receive a giveaway prize of a unique assortment of 12 bottles of Italian red wines delivered to their place.

How to price tickets for an event

4. Countdown timers

Only 3 more days to get your tickets!

Creating a sense of urgency is one of the best ways to use psychology to sell tickets. You can keep this urgency at the top of your supporters’ minds by adding a countdown timer to your event form and all online marketing appeals. This is more effective for last-minute ticket sales.

5. Social media influencers

Do you have supporters with a significant online following? Are any of your donors online influencers? In the age of social media, the importance of online influence cannot be ignored. This method can be especially helpful for attracting new people to your virtual and hybrid events.

Choose a few supporters with large online followers. Create and send them a referral code and ask them to encourage their audience to attend the event. Creating a different referral code for each influencer will help you know which individual had the best response. This can be useful in case of your future events.

6. Early-bird tickets

Offering discounts through early-bird pricing is another simple way to use psychology to sell more tickets by letting your potential attendees save money. Nonprofits may want to sell discounted tickets online or to any early-bird ticket purchasers. If your organization can sell most of the tickets to your event early, it makes the planning process much more manageable. Here’s an example

How to price tickets for an event

7. Promo codes

Promo codes are a great way to get your audience to purchase more tickets. Offer a discount as a percentage to encourage your supporters to purchase more tickets (for a larger discount), or a dollar amount to encourage people to check out with their tickets.

With Donorbox Events, you can use both types of discounts and create unlimited promo codes. Activate and deactivate your promo codes at any time to offer a limited-time discount – which will inspire urgency and help you sell more tickets.

This is also a great way to determine if your event pricing strategy is working. You can use promo codes to track certain outreach channels by using specific codes for specific channels. This will help you determine if you’re reaching the audience you want to reach – and how you might change your strategy for your next fundraising event.

ticket pricing strategy

How Do You Price and Sell Group Tickets?

Your event pricing strategy should absolutely include selling group tickets. The best way to sell out fundraising events is by selling tickets to groups. Segmenting and creating ticket types that appeal to groups of people can help your organization raise more money.

1. What does your audience want?

What kind of experience does your target audience want? Do they prefer virtual events? Is there a significant group willing to pay more for a VIP experience? Do you think bundling multiple tickets together would encourage more participation? Look at your audience to find out.

If you’re planning a concert or speaker series, your audience may want backstage passes or a question-and-answer session after the event. If you’re trying to target families, you may get a better response by discounting tickets sold in a bundle. We love this example here. Please check it out for inspiration.

ticket pricing strategy

2. Offer a VIP experience to a set of guests

VIP experiences can range from selling prime tables to a gala to extra services offered before or after your fundraising event. You may also hold an exclusive event for major donors and corporate sponsors and offer them an extraordinary encounter they will remember. Below are a few things you can include with your VIP tickets:

  • Pre or after parties
  • Complimentary parking
  • Extra drink tickets
  • Exclusive meetings with speakers or entertainers
  • Facility tours

In the below example, the Christian community in Egypt holds an event for the premiere of their documentary-style film that depicts the life and struggles of people from the community across the country. Their event has a VIP admission ticket in addition to 3 other tiers, as shown in the below image. Check out the page for their apt description alongside a beautiful video that quickly grabs the interest of people. This event page and the simple ticket tiers can be a great inspiration for your upcoming event.

3. Discounted bundle tickets

Family-friendly fundraising events, outdoor festivals, and concerts can all be excellent opportunities to offer bundled tickets at a discount. If most of your nonprofit’s supporters are families or younger, discounted group tickets are the best way to encourage participation.

If you’re hoping to fill a larger auditorium or larger space, discounted group tickets are also the best way to reach larger groups of people who don’t already have a connection to your nonprofit.

Your nonprofit can find ways to offer discounted ticket bundles by providing:

  • 2-for-1 tickets
  • Gala tables
  • Tables and meal options for people coming in groups to your silent auction
  • Discounts for groups of concert attendees

We want you to check out this example here if offering bundled tickets is on your mind for your next fundraising event. It’s also a great reference for a gala or similar fundraising events looking for sponsorships within the community in exchange for discounted bundled tickets and other benefits.

Final Thoughts

The strategy for setting ticket prices will greatly depend on how to appeal to your audience. If you’ve done your due diligence and segmented donors into different groups, you’ll better understand what they want and how much they’d be willing to pay. Effective pricing strategies and early planning for nonprofit events can ensure reliable financial support throughout the year.

After you’ve decided on your ticket prices and started to sell, remember to track how people respond to each of these strategies. By learning which techniques work and which don’t, you can use that information for other events throughout the year. Donorbox Events helps you track your purchaser’s information, payment records, and tickets sold. You can also see how well your promo codes perform, which is a great way to determine if your event pricing strategy is working.

Donorbox is an all-in-one online fundraising solution for nonprofits of all sizes and types. Our features include recurring donation forms, customizable donation pages, multiple payment methods via reliable payment processors like Stripe and PayPal, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, event ticketing, membership campaigns, text-to-give, and more. Donorbox Premium is the ultimate fundraising solution for nonprofits willing to scale their fundraising with quick technical support, access to fundraising advice, and a number of useful fundraising features.

Don’t forget to check out our fundraising resources, ideas, and tips on the Donorbox nonprofit blog. Subscribe to our newsletter for a monthly dose of blog content delivered to your inbox.

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Kristine Ensor is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience working with local and international nonprofits. As a nonprofit professional she has specialized in fundraising, marketing, event planning, volunteer management, and board development.

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