How to Use Event Promo Codes to Boost Ticket Sales

If you’re looking for a way to enhance the versatility of your event fundraising efforts, consider using event promo codes. These discount codes enable you to honor VIPs, better track your outreach efforts, create momentum for your ticket sales, and more. Check out this article to learn how you can put event promo codes to work for your nonprofit!

8 minutes read
How to Use Event Promo Codes to Boost Ticket Sales

Just about everyone loves a discount! In fact, 91% of Americans used a coupon in 2022! So why not apply this sales tactic to your nonprofit fundraising event strategy?

Event promo codes make it possible to offer your tickets to certain buyers at a discounted price – or even for free. They give your event attendance a boost as well as help you reach several other goals, from increased awareness to better conversion tracking. 

In this article, we’ll dive into how you can add event promo codes to your ticket sales and promotion strategies, helping you raise more funds for your mission along the way.

Event Promo Codes Defined

Short for promotional code, a promo code provides a buyer of a good or service with a discount. These codes are typically comprised of letters and numbers, and they are usually used when making a purchase online. 

So, an event promo code is just what it sounds like –  an alphanumeric code that ticket buyers can use to purchase discounted (or even free) tickets to an event.

Using promo codes can be a great way to boost ticket sales for your next fundraising event. Although the revenue received from each ticket sold may be lower, the right discount strategy can improve event awareness, attendance, and funds raised overall.

Using Event Promo Codes Effectively

Photo of a young woman wearing a yellow shirt and showing excitement while using her phone. Includes a graphic of an event promo code for 25% off a ticket.

Just like with everything else in your event planning process, you’ll want to take the time to strategize the use of promo codes and discounts for your event. 

This strategy will align with your ticket pricing and selling strategy. First, determine how much money you would like to bring in from ticket sales – this is a subset of your overall revenue goal, which should also include additional fundraising activities, sponsorships, and more. 

From there, decide on the price of your tickets, including various ticket tiers, and how many you will need to sell to hit your goals. Then, you can determine your promo code goals.

The goals for your event promo codes can be varied. Sure, you want to sell more tickets, but getting specific can help you determine the types of promo codes to offer. Here are a few potential goals to get you started – 

Encourage attendance from top supporters

Offering your best and most loyal supporters – your major donors, frequent volunteers, dedicated board members, etc. – a special discount will help them feel appreciated Plus, these are the people you want in attendance for your fundraising appeals, silent auctions, and more. They already connect with your mission, so are more likely to give, especially if you provide them with free or lower-cost admission. 

Bring in new supporters

Providing a discount is a great way to bring in new guests who may not otherwise attend. They likely won’t know much about your organization, but attending a fun event at a lower price can be tempting! And, once they’re there, you’ll have the chance to show them the impact your organization has, engage with them as potential donors, and start stewarding them through event follow-ups and thank yous.

Track the success of promotional efforts

Promo codes are also a great way to monitor your marketing efforts. Creating a different code for each channel or piece of communication (more on this later) allows you to track the success of these tactics through the number of ticket purchases completed with each code.   

8 Event Promo Code Ideas 

Depending on your goals, there are several different types of event promo codes you can implement to meet them. Here are eight event promo code ideas and which goals they will help you achieve.

1. Early Bird Discounts

If your primary goal is to sell a certain number of tickets, it’s best to build momentum right from the start! To encourage early ticket sales and create awareness for your event, kick off your event promotion with an early bird discount.

This type of promo code is only active for the first few days of your ticket sales campaign. For example, offer 20% off tickets for the first week they are on sale with a promo code like EARLYBIRD20. 

Pro Tip: If you have a limited quantity of tickets available, make sure this number is displayed in your online ticketing form. This will create a sense of urgency and scarcity that will encourage more sales – especially if the number of tickets available starts dropping quickly!

Event form example that shows ticket limits

Learn more about Donorbox Events

2. Flash Sales

Another type of event promo code that will hype up your event is a flash sale! These sales happen for a limited time and are typically a surprise to would-be buyers. Simply send out an email, post on social media, or add a message to your website announcing the sale and when it will end. Because flash sales don’t last very long – maybe a few days at most – people are encouraged to make the decision to buy before they miss out on a discount.

The timing of your flash sale can really give your ticket sales a boost. Are ticket sales usually down during the week? Host a weekday flash sale! If there’s a holiday coming up, share a promo code that’s only good for the few days leading up to or surrounding it and create a campaign focused on the holiday

3. VIP Discounts

If you’re focused on ensuring those most supportive of your mission are in attendance, create VIP (very important person) codes. As we mentioned earlier, many of these big supporters are the most likely to donate while at your event itself. So, offering a discounted (or even free) ticket to them will be worth your investment!

Who are your VIPs? Whoever you want them to be! They might include – 

  • Board Members – Offer free tickets to board members to encourage them to attend and engage with donors.
  • Major Donors – Share a promo code for free or discounted tickets with your top donors to show your gratitude and make them feel appreciated. 
  • Volunteers – Honor your regular volunteers as VIPs with a special discount code! You could also use a free ticket promo code as an incentive for volunteering with event set-up, planning, promotion, and more. 
  • Beneficiaries – If your beneficiaries live in the area and would like to attend, consider offering them a promo code for free tickets. Should they be willing, you can also ask them to share their story with other guests.

4. Past Attendee Discounts 

Have you been holding your event for several years? Another VIP may be someone who has attended your event in the past! Thank these previous attendees for their continued support year after year by providing them with a promo code made just for them.

You could even consider upping the discount for the number of years attended – maybe a promo code for 10% off for one year, 20% off for two, and so on. Offering this every year will encourage people to keep coming back!

5. Friends & Family Discounts

If you’re aiming to bring in new supporters to your event, encourage your staff members and/or volunteers to personally invite people they know to buy tickets using a ‘Friends and Family’ promo code. People enjoy supporting their loved ones, so this is an easy way to grow your guest list – especially if you are a newer nonprofit or if this is an inaugural event. 

Pro Tip: Gamify this tactic by offering a prize to the person who sells the most tickets. Track this by creating a different code for each member of your staff to use when promoting your event.

6. Marketing Channel Exclusives

As mentioned above, promo codes can also be used to track the effectiveness of your marketing tactics and channels. This is done by creating an exclusive promo code for each outlet and watching to see which promo codes are used the most to complete a purchase – also known as a conversion rate. 

Want to take it one step further? Create a unique event promo code for each individual piece of outreach so that you can determine conversion rates for each.

Here are a few marketing channels to consider – 

  • Email – Simply include a promo code within the body of your email and encourage readers to click through to use it. 
  • Social MediaSocial media is best for promoting flash sales. Share a unique promo code that’s only good for a set amount of time. 
  • Digital Ads – You likely put a lot of time and money into your digital ads. Use a unique promo code for each ad so you can adjust as needed throughout your campaign.
  • Direct Mail – Send out a postcard inviting your contacts to buy tickets with an exclusive promo code. Just be sure to also include a QR code that sends recipients directly to your ticketing form!
  • Earned Media – It’s sometimes difficult to track the true reach of your public relations efforts, but promo codes can help. If you’re talking about your event on TV or radio, share a promo code just for viewers or listeners!

7. Referral/Affiliate Promo Codes

Promo codes can also be used to track the effectiveness of your partnerships. If community partners are looking to help promote your event, provide a promo code they can use to offer their audience a discount. Not only does this make them more likely to share your event with their network, but it also makes it easy for you to track how many guests they bring in!

The same goes for social media influencers. It can be a challenge to determine whether or not an influencer is truly making an impact on your sales, but giving them a promo code to share with their followers makes it easier. Plus – like with your community partners – the ability to offer an exclusive promo code will incentivize them to spread the word about your event.

8. Subscriber Incentives 

Is one of your event goals to build your contact list or engage more with attendees? Simply encourage people to sign up for your email list in exchange for a discount. You can even set up an automatic email (with the event promo code included) that goes to each new member of your list, as long as you are using an email marketing tool like Mailchimp, Active Campaign, or Constant Contact! 

Not only does this boost ticket sales, but it also captures contact information. You can use this info to send future fundraising appeals, e-newsletters, impact reports, and more.

Creating Your Event Promo Codes

You know what your goals are and you’ve decided on the types of promo codes to offer. Now, it’s time to create your event promo codes! With the right event ticketing tool, it’s easy to build, track, and manage your promo codes throughout your sales period. 

Donorbox Events offers an unlimited number of customizable promo codes for each Event you create! Your discounts, which are currently applied to the entire ticket order, can be a dollar amount or percentage up to 100% of the cost.

Screenshot showing how to create a Promo Code in Donorbox Events

Plus, you can view all of your promo codes in a detailed list. This enables you to quickly track how many times each code has been used. Your codes can also be deactivated, re-activated, edited, or deleted anytime. This makes it easy to set up and pause codes for early bird discounts, flash sales, and more.

Screenshot showing the list of promo codes in Donorbox Events

In addition to easy-to-manage promo codes, Donorbox Events offers several top-of-the-line features.

With Events, you can set ticket sale deadlines and quantity limits, enter fair market values, collect donations on top of ticket sales, accept a variety of payment methods, and so much more. Plus, when the event arrives, you can check your guests in quickly and efficiently using a QR code or numeric check-in code found on each ticket! 

Check out this blog to learn more about Donorbox Events and to find an easy-to-follow guide that will help you get started in no time.

Over to You

Offering event promo codes is a fantastic way to diversify your ticket sales and fundraising strategy, as well as track the effectiveness of various outreach efforts. 

The key to an effective promo code strategy is to first set your goals. Then, determine the types of event promo codes that work best for you. Finally, find a tool like Donorbox Events that enables you to quickly create and manage your codes. 

Beyond event ticketing, Donorbox offers several innovative fundraising tools like customizable donation forms and pages, crowdfunding, text-to-give, a donation kiosk app, peer-to-peer, and more. Getting started is free! We also offer tiered pricing plans to best serve your needs and budget.

Check out the rest of our Nonprofit Blog for more nonprofit tips, tools, guides, and advice. Be sure to subscribe to get the newest articles sent straight to your inbox!

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Kara has several years of experience in communications and marketing for nonprofit organizations. Her love for serving others began while fundraising for and attending mission trips. She then worked with multiple local nonprofits through various marketing agencies and volunteer opportunities before becoming a communications manager at Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis for more than four years. Kara now specializes in writing and enjoys sharing her experiences and knowledge with others on this platform.


- Masters in Business Administration: Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
- Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations: Ball State University


- Senior Communications Manager at Variety the Children's Charity of St. Louis
- Volunteer Marketing Team Member at DuBois Center
- Assistant Manager, Marketing & Communications at Marketicity, serving local nonprofits such as Human Support Services and St. Paul United Church of Christ, Columbia

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