Crush your Fundraising Challenge! Part 2: The Good, Bad and Straight up Ugly of Ticket Sales

Alright so you’ve spent months in the planning stage, have a fantastic event up your sleeve, and your tickets are finally on sale. Here’s the lowdown on the good, the bad and the straight up ugly when it comes to the release of tickets to fundraising events. After about 6 months of planning, March 29th was the day ticket sales to all 7 of my events launched for the fundraising competition I’m participating in. Fast forward 2 weeks and I’ve learned quite a bit about actively managing our ticket sales, making tough decisions, and making sure we’re making all the right moves in the early selling stages. Here are the good, bad and straight up ugly challenges I faced.

The Good… Having a “good problem” is great, but it’s still a problem to deal with. One of our events sold out in less than 3 hours. There was so much buzz and hype around the event that we ended up selling out the total # for the venue’s capacity (which was 400) before noon. It’s a good problem to have, right? Well it ended up presenting a whole new set of challenges. It’s a great feeling when you see that all your marketing/outreach has paid off, but it’s not so great when you have a slew of upset people who were planning on attending the event but not planning for such a quick sell-out. We had would-be attendees posting disappointed Facebook messages, sending emails, and people were coming out of the woodwork asking if we could make an exception for them by setting aside a couple tickets. After much stress and back in forth, the day after our sell-out we ended up upgrading to a new venue with over double capacity. So for all you SF-ites that didn’t snag a ticket to Mr. Marina, let the record show that as of today there are about 200 tickets left.

The Bad… Ticket sales typically happen in the 2 weeks leading up to the event. Earlier this week we did a post on how to turbo boost your ticket sales. These are super important tips because as event organizers we want to do everything we can to increase sales as early as possible. Don’t freak out. With 7 events in the pipeline it felt almost too easy to get caught up and stress about all the events, but you need to work backwards and focus on each event separately. How are you marketing the event? What’s your target audience? How can you incentivize early purchase decisions? I felt the pressure of selling tickets to a big event times 7, and our team had to identify an individual marketing strategy for each of the events separately. We’re trucking along, and still (kind of ) freaking out, but I feel confident that all the hard work we’ve put forth is going to result in a series of great events.

… and the Straight Up Ugly! No one wants to have to cancel an event. But what’s worse than canceling? Going up in flames. One week out from our gay date auction we sold 11 tickets total, so I asked for feedback from members of the community. I learned that our $25 ticket price wasn’t the most enticing based on our choices in time of evening, day of the week, venue and included drink specials. This was the first event in our series of 7  during the 10 week fundraising competition and we ended up deciding to cancel it based on feedback from the community we were ultimately targeting. It’s not the easiest decision to postpone an event you’ve been working so hard on planning, but sometimes you need to cut your losses and chalk it up as a learning!

64% of organizers who met their sales goals logged in daily to view ticket sales and analytics. With 7 events and a team of 30 people helping with various events, I make sure we update the team with the status of ticket sales regularly so everyone knows how we’re doing and when we need to step it up to hit our goals. The next part of this series will cover one of my favorite topics, the use of tracking links to ensure your success!

Tickets to the events during Brianna’s 10 week fundraising campaign are on sale and the first event is next week! Check out the Slap Cancer website and Facebook page and follow @slapcancer. She’ll be blogging with tips for nonprofits to be more effective with their fundraising as she tries to crush her own goal!