Creating and Selling Fundraising Event Tickets | The Ultimate Guide

When it comes to creating and selling fundraising event tickets, most nonprofits get a little lost. Without a solid ticketing strategy in your wheelhouse, you may be missing out on more event revenue. In this article, we'll walk you through how to create tickets and build the perfect event ticketing strategy for your organization. Plus, we'll show you how Donorbox Events can help you do it!

11 minutes read
Creating and Selling Fundraising Event Tickets | The Ultimate Guide

The nonprofit world has changed over the last few years, but fundraising events remain one of the primary ways to raise funds. Many nonprofits have created hybrid events that combine live and virtual campaigns to increase outreach. Others have gone back to their tried-and-true live events that helped support the organization historically.

The biggest differences have come from advances in technology. Nonprofits now have access to streaming services and online ticket sale options that were not available before. With online tickets, nonprofits don’t have to worry about ticket design, searching for the right ticket template, or paying to have tickets printed.

Donorbox Events lets you create nonprofit events as well as ticketing forms to sell tickets online. We have loads of features that help sell more tickets, accept donations from the event page, manage sold tickets, and more. Watch this comprehensive video to learn how you can leverage next-gen solutions to accelerate ticket sales and boost fundraising for your next event.

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But how can organizations best utilize these tools to produce successful events?

This article discusses the steps needed to create a fundraising event, ticket types, and tips for selling fundraising tickets online.

9 Steps to Creating a Fundraising Event

Event fundraising can be time-consuming, but if your organization takes time to delegate responsibilities and utilizes the help of technology wherever possible, the likelihood of success increases.

1. Form an event committee

The first step to creating any event is forming an event committee consisting of key staff members and – if possible – volunteers. Volunteers are an essential part of event planning for several reasons:

  • Willingness to take on time-consuming tasks
  • Connections with potential sponsors and donors
  • Unique fundraising ideas
  • Knowledge about technology and marketing

When forming an event committee, it is best to involve both staff and volunteers with a wide range of experience and expertise. If your committee remains the same throughout the years, your event will become stale and fewer people will attend. It is also best practice to connect with volunteers of all ages to see how they would make changes to your annual events.

After building a varied committee, it is time to split into different roles. Here is where your committee members’ expertise will come into play. Some will be comfortable connecting with local businesses and requesting sponsorships. Others may find more interest in decorating the venue or even marketing on social media.

2. Outline the event and determine goals

The primary responsibility of an event committee is to help plan the event. They should work with your fundraising office or board of directors to outline event details they may be in charge of, including:

It is vital to determine what ultimate goals you hope to see from the fundraiser:

  • The number of attendees
  • Number of new donors
  • The number of return donors
  • Number of peer-to-peer fundraisers
  • Target revenue from ticket sales
  • Overall donations (before and during the event)

3. Choose your event type

Now that you have a better idea of what you hope to achieve, it is easier to choose an event type. Instead of only worrying about whether you should have a relaxed or formal affair, nonprofits must now choose if they want an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. This distinction can mean the difference between a smaller fundraiser with more major donors present or an online campaign that brings in people around the world. Many nonprofits have moved to include both whenever possible to reach a wide range of potential donors.

4. Establish your event budget

Past events continue to be an excellent research source when creating an event budget and ticket pricing strategy. By looking at the last few years of an event, nonprofits can determine how much revenue they can expect.

Remember, revenue is only half of your budget. Nonprofits must be aware of the current economic situation when creating a cost analysis. The venue, food, and other costs have likely increased since your last in-person event, so it is best to get a quote from three different options before signing a contract.

Here is a list of costs that will help your planning committee determine what quotes to ask for in order to find the best deal for your nonprofit:

  • Venue
  • Online ticketing tool
  • Online streaming tools
  • Entertainment/speakers
  • Travel/transportation
  • Branding and signs
  • Food and beverage
  • Marketing
  • AV and other equipment
  • ticket printing costs

5. Find a location and set a date and time

Finally, your nonprofit can finalize your event’s location, date, and time. Cost is not the only deciding factor that will play a part in finding a location – timing is equally important.

If your donors expect the event to occur at a specific time every year, for example, you must find a location that fits this expectation. Also, consider whether other nonprofits may be holding an event at that time so that you aren’t competing with several other fundraising events.

Important dates like an anniversary, awareness, or giving days should be taken into consideration when choosing the timing of your event. Our Giving Days Calendar may be a good place to start.

6. Finalize entertainment and fundraising activities

To engage your audience, your event must involve several entertainment and fundraising activities. In some cases, the location may provide entertainment options. As you begin to contact entertainers, get as specific as possible about their expectations. Entertainment costs can include transportation, AV support, and other expenses you may not realize.

In addition to entertainment, fundraising activities like auctions, raffles, peer-to-peer fundraising, and product sales also may take additional funds and support to get right. Before starting to sell silent auction or raffle tickets, be sure to check all local laws to get the required licenses and raffle permits.

7. Choose the right online tools

There are a lot of benefits to selling nonprofit event tickets online. An efficient online event-ticketing tool will make event registration simple and quick for your staff and volunteers. There are a number of other benefits.

First, online event pages facilitate marketing and outreach as they are easy to link to and can be used to share vital event information. You can include several visuals to excite potential attendees as well as inspired copy that encourages them to purchase your fundraiser ticket.

Second, online forms help you calculate the tax deductibility of your fundraiser ticket types, and most importantly, send automatic receipts and event tickets straight to attendees. Some platforms even allow you to accept donations within the ticket form.

Also, you get to avoid ticket printing, color printing, and card stock paper costs that otherwise make for significant expenses.

Donorbox offers all the above-mentioned features and much more for a very affordable platform fee. Getting started costs you nothing and you’ll be able to:

  • Create a simple-to-use event page and a ticketing form.
  • Add an unlimited number of ticket levels to your form.
  • Embed the ticketing form on your website or use the Donorbox-hosted event page.
  • Determine the tax-deductible amount for each level of event tickets by inputting the fair-market value and tax rate.
  • Set event deadlines.
  • Send automated receipts and tickets to purchasers.
  • Create promo codes to offer discounted or free tickets to certain buyers.
  • Collect the email address, name, and address of your purchasers from the ticketing form.
  • Manage purchasers’ and ticket information at the backend.
  • Offer ticket buyers the option to make a separate donation.
  • Let buyers pay through Apple Pay.
  • Fully refund the ticket amount if the need arises.
  • Easily check guests in at your event with a unique check-in code and QR code included with each ticket.

Here’s an example from The Catcade‘s Homecoming event –

Screenshot from a nonprofit's Donorbox Events page showing different ticket tiers.

For hybrid and online events, you should also look into utilizing online streaming platforms. Airmeet is a great option to help you increase engagement and ROI through interactive experiences. Plus, you can now integrate Donorbox with Airmeet so that attendees can make donations without ever leaving the event platform!

8. Find sponsorships and in-kind donations

Committee members live in your community and usually know the best stores and restaurants that may entice attendees. Some may even own or work for a business willing to donate something to the cause! Send out your committee members early to find unique and exciting in-kind gifts for your next silent auction.

Event committee members may also be an excellent way to find event sponsors. Your fundraising office can create sponsorship packets and letters and let committee members be the first contact point. Once a business has shown interest in sponsoring, your office or board chairperson should reach out and finalize all the details.

You may want to send printed and branded event tickets to these sponsors. That adds to your branding and marketing while helping you build stronger partnerships. It’s also a nice (a little costly, for the ticket printing part) way to show them how valuable they are to your nonprofit mission.

9. Market and advertise your upcoming event

The last and most important step is to market your event. By now, you’ve created your event page and fundraiser ticket form online. Now is the time to design your marketing materials, create a communications plan and calendar, and get the word out!

Send out email campaigns, post on social media channels, and reach out to local businesses and media for advertising opportunities. Ask your peer-to-peer fundraisers to talk about the upcoming event in their fundraising campaigns and with their network of people. Have volunteers and board members use the power of word-of-mouth marketing within the community.

Just remember to add the link to your online event page to any and all marketing materials!

7 Best Types of Fundraising Event Tickets

Whether your event is in-person, virtual, or hybrid, the profitability depends significantly on the types/levels of its tickets and the ticket pricing strategy. Here is a list of the best and most profitable types of fundraising event tickets to help you create yours.

1. General admission

This is the most affordable ticket type for most of your potential attendees. It can be used for in-person as well as online events, for a gala, a golf outing, a concert, or a book reading event.

General admission tickets are often a staple for your fundraiser ticket pricing strategy. The ticket pricing usually remains the lowest of all other ticket types and is applicable for people who aren’t looking for any special treatment, experience, or benefits – like what we see highlighted in the image example below.

how to sell fundraiser tickets online

2. Early bird

These tickets can very well ramp up your fundraiser ticket sales revenue for an upcoming event. However, that involves planning well ahead of time. If you’re planning a future conference or you hold a gala every year at a specific time or season, your event committee can use these early bird tickets to raise excitement for and start promoting the event. These tickets make people sign up early for your event in exchange for a significant discount, also giving you some funds to depend on when it comes to making arrangements for your event. Here’s an example

nonprofit event ticketing

3. Group

Group tickets are best for live concerts, conferences, or anything else that a group of people would love to attend together. This allows these groups to benefit from a discount on the ticket price and gets more people to attend your event.

Decide the number of people you’d consider part of a group, such as a group of five students for a concert or a family of four for your next big fundraiser. Determine a price that shows at least a minimal discount – if individuals can attend for $15, for example, encourage groups of four to purchase a fundraiser ticket package for $50, as shown in this example

nonprofit event ticketing

4. Table, seat, and meal

If you hold concerts, fundraising dinners, galas, auctions, trivia nights, or other events that require a specific seating arrangement (and possibly a meal), these ticket types are a must. Sell tables and seats to your attendees with options like a table for two, a table for five, etc. You can also include meal options in these tickets, asking for their preferences to further increase interest and excitement.

5. VIP

VIP tickets are for those attendees who would prefer a premium experience at your event. You might create a dedicated seating space for these attendees, special meal options, a chance to interact with the guest speaker or performer, free membership for a year, free parking, and other benefits. It all depends on the pricing strategy!

These tickets also reduce no-shows at events, another major plus when working with a budget.

The below example is of an annual fundraising gala that offers two different levels of VIP tickets – gold and silver.

nonprofit event ticketing

You may want to mail printed tickets to your VIP guests. Or have some volunteers reach out in person to deliver the tickets. If you have many major donors or sponsors, remember to incorporate ticket printing into your event budget.

6. Giveaway prize

Virtual events must find ways to engage online attendees and ensure they don’t leave your event early. Nonprofits can substantially boost engagement by creating a contest that offers a significant gift or prize amount to the winner.

For example, the range of tickets below includes drawing entries to an attendance contest. Whoever wins the drawing will receive a unique assortment of 12 bottles of Italian red wines.

fundraising event ticket sales



7. Virtual pass

Virtual pass tickets are for your virtual event attendees to allow them to join online. These are helpful for both hybrid and completely online events.

Sometimes a great way to boost event attendance is to offer a virtual option. In these cases, offer your attendees a low-cost virtual pass for access to the live streaming and recorded sessions they can watch later. These tickets are perfect for conferences, live concerts, and auctions.

Remember to give your ticket buyers some options for engagement, choose the right streaming tool, and have a dedicated host to keep them watching with interest.

8 Tips to Sell Event Tickets

Here are some tips to help you sell more (and more!) tickets for your upcoming event.

1. Create a theme and branding

Before spreading the word about your event, you’ll need to decide on your event branding, including name, colors, and logo. Use this brand in all of your marketing materials, including print, email, social media outreach, and advertisements to increase awareness for your upcoming event. t. You may even want to create a hashtag to help start and continue the conversation on social media!

2. Offer multiple ticket levels

Offering general, VIP, early-bird, and other ticket types (like we discussed above) allows you to encourage participation from a varied audience while also raising more funds.

Each of your events will have a different target population, but providing attendees with options to save money or give more for a special ticket gives them control over their experience. Organizations looking for ways to increase brand awareness or raise more money can also include merchandise, like t-shirts or hats, with these ticket bundles.

Check out the example below for the multiple tiers of tickets this organization created targeting different types of audiences.

fundraising event ticket sales

3. Sell tickets online

In-person ticket sales are always an option, but most nonprofits have seen an increase in attendance when adding online event ticket forms. Nonprofits can sell online tickets to fund runs, galas, or concerts, and create customized tickets that match their needs.

With an affordable and simple-to-use online event-ticketing solution like Donorbox, nonprofits can achieve effectiveness over online event ticket sales.

4. Display the tax-deductible value

When adding tickets to your event page, ensure transparency by sharing the tax-deductible value on every ticket level (shown in the image below). The dollar amount of a nonprofit event ticket is only tax-deductible when it is more than what the ticket is worth at fair market value. If the dinner, entertainment, and other event perks cost more than the ticket price, there is no tax deduction available.

Event attendees will appreciate this knowledge. Being open about this amount allows nonprofits to gain trust and strengthen relationships with their donors.

fundraising event ticket sales

5. Mail/email supporters

Mail and email remain two of the best ways to encourage event attendance. Your donor database should have details on who attended past events, as well as those who regularly give to your organization. This information can help you determine who should receive personal invitations, and how.

6. Create promo codes

Promo codes are an important strategy to consider when selling tickets for your event. Setting promo codes allows you to offer discounts and even free tickets to certain supporters. This is a great way to reward your top volunteers, encourage more event attendance, and generate excitement around your event.

Donorbox Events allows you to create unlimited promo codes. Choose your discount as either a percentage or a dollar amount, then monitor your promo code and edit or delete it at any time.

Screenshot showing how to create a Promo Code in Donorbox Events

7. Leverage local media and other connections

You may still want to use traditional media to promote your event as well. Press releases and community partnerships with local media are essential in these cases.

Your event entertainer is another source that can help with advertising. Depending on the popularity of your entertainer, asking them to promote the event on their website and social media pages may bring in new event attendees. Including a special video message from your entertainer to your potential ticket buyers may also increase attendance, and can be shared on social media, through email campaigns, and even as a resource for local media.

Last Thoughts

Events will always remain a vital part of fundraising. Be it church events or other nonprofit events, it is undeniable that event fundraising has changed. Days are searching for a ticket template, maintaining separate ticket templates for all types of events, ticket printing, managing ticket purchases offline, etc. are gone. Nonprofits that hope to get the best return on their investment should look for ways to use technology to their advantage.

Online ticket sales are becoming more popular, and are expected by many event attendees. But remember to send them automated receipts for their records! You should also follow up with attendees after the event is over to ask for their opinions on the event and/or the ticketing process. Their feedback will help you improve over time!

If your organization wants to learn more about Donorbox as an all-in-one fundraising solution with an array of advanced fundraising features, visit our website.

Check out our Nonprofit Blog for weekly fundraising tips and tricks.

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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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