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The Right Way to Price PTO Events

You might have an amazing idea for a Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) hosted event, but have you ever thought about how to price tickets effectively?

You definitely don’t ever want to be in the position where the ticket sales don’t cover the costs for your event. 

Or if you’re planning a school fundraiser, then you definitely don’t want a situation where you fail to turn the expected profit because of a simple pricing mistake.

Otherwise your event will end up costing your PTO money, rather than turning a profit or at least breaking even.  

Pricing tickets correctly can be the make-or-break factor in a fundraiser or any ticket-based event.

Even experienced PTO leaders can make the mistake of not factoring in all of the right things and having to deal with the consequences.

So let’s walk through what you need to know about pricing events for your PTO and learn the right way to do it!

Pricing Guidelines

When planning an event, whether it’s a fundraiser or a fun-raiser, you absolutely, positively must account for every associated cost.

Not just the “hard” costs like food and beverages, decorations, paper products but also entertainment, custodial charges, and room deposits too.

You don’t need to know the costs down to the penny, but an educated ballpark number will do just fine.

Be sure to actually contact vendors and visit stores to get an idea of the current costs and don’t assume they’ll be the same as the last time you organized a similar event.

And if your total per head cost is $9.26, do not just charge $10 for the ticket. 

That’s too small of a margin to assure a break even situation in the end. 

You’ll want to leave yourself a little wiggle room to work with!

Don’t Overlook This Soft Cost

Another cost that can throw off the math is non-paying attendees. 

This costs only comes into play if you’re arranging a catered event where there’s a per plate or per head charge. 

If you’re self-catering the event by picking up prepared mood and dessert from a store, then accounting for non-paying attendees isn’t really a factor.

Add Wiggle Room to the Ticket Price

Another smart strategy for pricing events is to add a bit of extra leeway that can help absorb extra costs.

One way to give yourself extra padding is to always leave a 25% buffer for those unpredictable expenses.

This allows a safety net which can save you from running into a negative balance and can help boost the fundraiser’s profits too. 

This small buffer can easily absorb the per head cost for non-paying attendees and will leave your break-even event in the black.

Getting Smart About Pricing Fundraiser Event Tickets

If your event is a fundraiser, then you’ll want to take a more strategic strategy for pricing your event. 

You’ll definitely want to look for ways to add profit into every aspect of the event, especially the ticket price.

It’s not very smart to price the tickets low in hopes that people will spend more when they’re at the event. 

Because that’s not a given at all and you’re kneecapping your profits with that sort of strategy.

A Bad Concept for Fundraiser Ticket Pricing (plus a fix)

One time I went to a planning meeting for a community fundraiser.

I was looking at the agenda, and they had the costs outlined, which meant they were off to a good start!

The budget itemized drinks, food, venue, security, etc. all for $25 per person. 

But then they were only charging $30 per ticket!

This means that if $25 was=s truly their cost for everything, they’d only earn a measly five dollars per head for the fundraiser.

Let’s do the math on this strategy…. let’s say 100 people paid for tickets to come to the fundraiser. 

That’s a $500 profit.  For probably hours and hours of work!

I think they were hoping that people would spend more on the raffle baskets that would be offered. 

But that’s pretty risky and a bananas idea, in my opinion. 

For fundraisers, you really want to be minimizing as many risks as possible so that you are engineering a win.

Leave as little to chance as possible to set yourself up for a profitable success and price your event for what it’s worth. 

If you’ll offer raffle baskets, bake in a few raffle tickets to the overall event ticket price to further sweeten the pot, so to speak.

An even better pricing strategy for this event would be to double the costs and set that as the ticket price. 

That would net the group $2500 just from the entry ticket alone and really set the stage for a profitable event.

Another reason why it’s okay to set the ticket costs higher is that people are usually paying the ticket well in advance of the vent itself.

So that they’re probably not thinking that they’ve already paid enough. 

The ticket price is most likely an after thought if tickets are under $50 or thereabouts and they’ll be ready to indulge a little more on whatever fun prizes you have up for grabs.

Plus, if folks know they’re coming to a fundraiser, they’ll expect that you’re charging an appropriate amount so that you’re raising what you need from the event to fund your programs and events. 

Do them a favor by doing just that.

Watch this!

The Right Way to Price Events for PTO PTA School Events and Givebacks

Over to you!

So now you have some great strategies for pricing your PTO events so that you can ensure your event turns out as you’re intending by breaking even or turning a profit!

Remember to literally account for all costs, both soft and hard, like food and beverages, paper products and serving pieces, decorations, security, custodial charges, room deposits and the like. 

For events that are catered or have specific charges based per head, be sure to factor in the cost of non-paying attendees so that you’re covering all of your bases. 

With all of that information factored in, you’ll be prepared to properly price your PTO event ticket.

Happy event planning!

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