I’ve been meeting with a number of school auction committees recently and thought I’d provide some quick inspiration on a topic that seems to throw many groups into a tizzy: ticket price.
It doesn’t matter if the school’s tuition is $3500 or $30,000, I hear the same points.
- “We want to be inclusive.”
- “We need to keep the gala affordable.”
- “We don’t want the auction to become a snooty event.”
- “We have all financial levels represented at this school.”
I’ve observed enormous debates rage over a suggested hike in ticket price. Even a suggested $5 increase will launch strong opinions.
So consider this story where they increased the ticket price by ~750%.
The Catholic Schools Foundation in Boston hosted their 20th anniversary last spring. Traditionally it was a free dinner celebration billed as a “stewardship” gala.
For their 20th anniversary last year, they decided to charge a ticket price.
They opted for $750 per person and made $2.6 million.
Wow! Let’s re-read that.
The dinner was previously FREE and billed as a “friend-raiser.” They changed that and charged $750. As a result, they made $2.6 million in ticket and sponsorship sales to help kids in inner city Catholic schools.
Why did they change?
Peer pressure. (And we’ll assume to raise money.) The article quote is:
“All of the other non-profits in the area have this format, where they have an annual fund-raiser.”
Here are my two take-aways:
- Re-evaluate your ticket price. Look at what you’re offering compared to what’s in your neighborhood. What does a meal cost in your town? And beyond the food, what is the value of the “experience” you’re providing?
- Expand your scope of sponsorship (even if you’re a school) to companies you might not have originally thought of approaching
Schools often seem to feel “limited” in their ability to secure sponsorships. “Only the parents care,” is a prevailing thought.
Another is, “Only the parents who have a business will be a sponsor.”
This group went to a high-powered person (Patriots owner Bob Kraft) to chair the event, and honored another mogul (Fidelity’s Peter Lynch). Those people reached out to their peers to secure sponsorships.
Maybe I’m wrong — I haven’t researched it — but I’d bet that not every CEO of every donating company is Catholic. (And if they were, it means they did their homework. Good for them.)
In conclusion, let’s work on nixing those self-limiting beliefs about whether your gala is worth the price and who will or won’t donate to your school auction.
P.S. For other school auctions ideas and topics, subscribe to Benefit Auction Ideas. Twice a month, you’ll get new ideas and intellectual ammo on how to manage tough topics like this one.