Your peer-to-peer run, cycling event, or ride has a registration fee, and now you’re feeling like you need to run a special discount promotion to increase your registration numbers. Everyone loves a good sale, right? But should you really put your event on sale? Your registration fee has a purpose. Maybe it’s to defray costs or supplement revenue, but at some point someone at your organization made a conscious decision to add a fee. Before you go slashing prices, let’s dig in to discounts!

Discounts are really a registration “drug”

In a way, fundraisers can become addicted to offering registration discounts, and participants can really get used to using them.

The downward spiral plays out something like this – you or your manager notice that you haven’t recruited as many participants as you should have at this point. You remember that time when you offered a discounted registration fee and decide you should offer another one. And voila! You have more participants!

You think to yourself, “Discounts get people to sign up when I want them to!” Instant gratification! So you start offering more of them.

But the high is short-lived, and as time goes on, you begin to notice the consequences of this discount code addiction. Participants start to think like this:

I’m not going to sign up now . . . I’ll just wait for the next sale.

I’ll call the office and get a code to register for free.

I’m going to search for a coupon code, and I’ll only register if I can find one.

I signed up last week for $X, and now it’s cheaper. This isn’t fair!

Data shows that participants who use discount codes don’t make donations of their own, fundraise less often, and raise less money than those who pay the full registration fee.

But all is not lost, friends!

Fight discount addiction with a smart strategy!

Here are a few long-term, sustainable strategies that can rescue you from discount code addiction.

Don’t offer discounts! This can be adopted for any event, but is a clearer choice if your event is new, if you’ve never offered discounts before, or your event is near capacity. You concentrate instead on making your event the best in class so participants don’t hesitate to pay the fee.

Sliding scale fees. You don’t offer codes, but at certain well-published dates, you increase the registration fee. Your fee scale could look something like this:

Early bird registration fee $25
Three months prior to event $35
One month prior to event $50
Day of event $70

The days and weeks leading up to the expiration of each fee can be publicized much like you would a discount code. “You have just five more days to take advantage of early bird registration!”

Offer discounts to priority participants. To show your appreciation, discounts can be used as retention incentives for top fundraisers and team captains. Offer these codes for a short period of time at the beginning of the season. The sense of urgency will help get your top participants back sooner!

Custom discounts for corporate/sponsor teams – Option 1. Arrange for corporate teams to pay for all team members, either at a full or discounted rate. Provide them with a discount code they can share, so there is no cost to the team member to register. This requires additional coaching resources to be allocated to these participants as they may be less invested in the event and the cause.

Custom discounts for corporate/sponsor teams – Option 2. You may also provide “token” discounts to corporate teams. These low value discounts (i.e. $5 off) are excellent for building relationships with team captains and leadership at those corporations. In either case, set up a discount code that reflects the branding of the team. For example, for a Blackbaud team, you could offer the code “BBAUD” or “BB5OFF”.

Regardless of the strategy you select, your main goal should be to create a product that people will willingly pay for. The use of discounts can either be a gimmicky slippery slope, or a strategic endeavor that will ultimately increase revenue and loyalty to your event. Choose wisely, friends!

 Learn more practical Peer-to-Peer tips and tricks in our latest eBook – download it today!

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Shana Masterson has been a fundraiser since 2001. In 2014, she joined Blackbaud as a senior consultant. Her unique skill set as both a peer to peer fundraiser and a technologist allows her to focus on maximizing peer to peer campaign revenue through success planning, road mapping, communication calendaring, configuration recommendations and more.

Prior to joining Blackbaud, Shana led the American Diabetes Association’s online fundraising and communication strategy for the national special events team. She also worked for the National Brain Tumor Society, the American Cancer Society and the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

Connect with Shana on Twitter or Linkedin.

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