The Do's and Don’ts of Selling More Tickets | npENGAGE

The Do’s and Don’ts of Selling More Tickets

By on Sep 26, 2017


Ticket booth selling nonprofit even tickets

Today, when organizations fiercely compete to get the attention of an over stimulated patron, you must find creative ways to sell tickets. Increasing ticket sales will help alleviate stress and keep your organization afloat. I’ve worked in the nonprofit sector for over 20 years and witnessed many ways to increase and decrease ticket sales.

Here are a few of my Do’s and Don’ts to help your organization sell more tickets to your next event:

DO: Offer a Members-Only Presale

For your popular and most anticipated events, have a member-only presale.  This will not only grow tickets sales, but also increase your member base.  Who doesn’t love getting access to a popular event before the general public? Members expect to receive perks and this is a great way to single them out for their ongoing support. Reward your members and sustain your event by selling those early tickets.

DO: Sell Discounted Tickets to Future Events, During Events

I picked this up from a former colleague of mine.  It sounds so simple, but while you have the attention of patrons, offer a deal on a future event.  Create an exclusive ticket price encouraging people to instantly purchase. People love a good deal and this will help sales for an event that might not be selling well.

If someone attends your yoga class, offer them a discount to your group night hike. It’s not the same event, but you have an audience of active people; offer them something you THINK they’d like – and for less.

DON’T: Sell Yourself Cheap

Remember when it was a great idea to sell tickets through Groupon?  Well, as a lot of organizations learned, that idea was not so great.  Don’t overly discount your tickets allowing patrons to lessen your organization and the services you provide. Your brand is valuable and discounting to steep will weaken it.

The More You Know: Do your research when it comes to setting ticket prices. It’s worth your time to assess different avenues that have been successful and ones that have not.

Some organizations will enlist the help of marketing firms to determine if they are setting tickets prices appropriately.  If you acquire one, make sure you get your money’s worth.  Ask for references and reports from other clients. If resources are limited, conduct your own research venture.  A good Google search will lead you to some resources on how to best set your pricing.  Also, don’t forget to use your organization’s national/local affiliations to gather information on the industry standard.

DO: Sell Tickets Online

Don’t overlook the ease of online ticket sales.  It’s simple, convenient and you won’t have to worry about the ticket printer jamming.   Take advantage of online events such as, Cyber Monday or national giving days like, #GivingTuesday. Accessibility is dire to the success of your ticket sales. Capitalize on the advantages of the internet and use it to your benefit.

The More You Know: Get the word out by using Social Media.

People gain their knowledge and information via the web and social media. Use these tools to help spread the word and add links to your tickets page to drive traffic online.

DON’T: Use Third-Party Resellers, Unless You Must

Before you form an immediate opinion, let me explain.  There are several pros to hiring a reseller including; less time dealing with issues and not handling exchange requests however, the cons can outweigh the pros.  The fees associated with this service can be hefty and your patrons could question the waste of funds.  Also, managing your ticket inventory with a reseller can create more work than needed.  Overall, it’s important to research third party firms prior to using one.  Unless you’re a large organization, with deep pockets, the investment rate will most likely not be positive.

The More You Know: When all else fails, give tickets away.

If a program isn’t selling and you needed bodies in attendance, entice your target audience with free admission. A former colleague of mine developed a theory called, “paper the town.” This would alert the team to connect with targeted patrons offering them free admission. If your ticket sales are lagging, it’s all right to give some away. It’s better to have a populated event and then sell patrons on additional charges.  For example, if you comped their entry to an exhibit, sell them an audio or a guided tour.  If it’s an education program or public program, charge them for the materials – books, guides, etc.

Ticket sales help sustain your organization, publicize your mission and drive attendance through your doors.  Selling tickets is an ongoing challenge however, there are many tricks that you can use to alleviate difficulties. Get creative and make sure to change things up. Don’t become stagnate in your ways and have fun spreading information on your organization throughout your community.



Rosita puts her 20 years in the  nonprofit sector to the service of Blackbaud’s clients, helping them implement comprehensive arts and cultural solutions that meet their unique needs. Prior to joining Blackbaud, Rosita was associate director of education at the Armstrong Community Music School of the Austin Lyric Opera. She has also served on the National Endowment for the Arts grant review panels in the Learning Arts Initiative and as a panelist for the Mississippi Arts Commission and the City of Austin Cultural Arts Division. In 2005, Rosita was selected as an International Arts Management Award recipient for the important part she played as an Arts Management Fellow at the 43rd National Opera Convention in Washington, D.C. Rosita is currently on the board of trustees of the Austin Jazz Workshop in Austin, TX. She also actively volunteers with other performing arts and social service organizations in Austin. Rosita received a Master’s degree in Arts Administration from the American University in Washington, D.C. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance and Economics from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

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