A few years ago, BW Unlimited was asked to assist a Charity in South Carolina. Now this story is 100% true but I am not going to use the name of the Charity (which now doesn’t exist because of the story I am going to tell you) nor the name of their President. To make it easier and to protect her, let’s call her Sally.
So…Sally was planning a Charity Fundraiser which included a Sporting Clays Tournament being held on a well-known South Carolina Plantation. Now, you should know this was just not some run of the mill Sporting Clays range – it is the absolute best. The grounds were impeccable, appealing to a higher echelon of shooter. Then, as you can imagine, the Plantation House was incredible with an awesome restaurant and event hall. As “Sally” told me about the venue, she described the meal choice that went along with the ticket price which seemed moderately priced. She told me that she knew the owner and they gave her an incredible price for the entire package. And…the owner was going to help her advertise.
As the day of the event drew close, I called to check in to see how her ticket sales were going – which was her only responsibility since we were doing the rest. “So Sally, how are you ticket sales going?” I asked. “We are nearly sold out but we still have a two weeks left” she replied. “How much do you owe the venue for the entire package?” I asked, “$30,000.00 but it should have been somewhere around $38,000.00.” “When do you need to pay them?” I inquired. “The night before but the ticket money will cover it, since it will be in the Bank on Monday morning.” Wait a minute, did I hear what I thought I heard? So I asked “Sally, how many tickets do you have sold right now?” “None but they are going to pay at the door.”
As my brain slammed to a stop with my blood pressure shooting through the roof, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Did I just hear what I thought I did? Now, I told Sally the importance of pre-selling tickets, giving her an online ticket application as well as ticket applications etc. I clearly remembered the conversation on why pre-selling tickets are important, to protect the organization from a financial disaster. But I had to wade in just to clear it up and this is how it went:
“Sally, please tell me you have pre-sold tickets?” I asked with my eyes closed. “George, this is South Carolina, you don’t know how things happen here and how people are. If they say they are coming, believe me, they are coming – you can bank on it.” I was shocked, I couldn’t believe she ignored what I told her and proceeded on with her plans, despite of the fact that she hired my firm. “For the record, you are 100% wrong. They are not going to show up. You need to get off the phone with me right now and call all of them and get their credit card numbers so that you are covered” I detailed to her. “Didn’t you hear me, these people are the best of the best. I see and talk to them nearly every day, they wouldn’t lie to me” she replied in an irritated voice. “Sally, I am telling you that if you don’t do what I say, you are going to be extremely sorry. People are people, the same in South Carolina as they are in Maryland, in California and in Texas. They are blowing you off, they are not going to show and then what are you going to do.” Sally then began to berate me, telling me how wrong I am and that she is sorry that she ever hired me and that she was not going to call anyone…that I would see at her event.
I said you’re not going to have the chance to say “I told you so” because you’re wrong and you’re not going have the chance. I then told her that I am not coming to the event because I know it’s disaster waiting to happen. She slammed the phone down in my face.
Several weeks later, my phone rang with a South Carolina exchange but I didn’t recognize it. I answered the phone and found it to be Sally’s former (former) boyfriend. He said “George, I know you haven’t heard from Sally but we split up right after the nightmare.” I asked him “What do you mean the nightmare?” He said “You already know, you told what would happen and you were right…only 15 showed up and they were her family and people who help her. Nobody showed up.” I sat back in my chair and had to ask “How many people did she think was coming and signed the contract for?” “380” he quietly replied. She had to get a loan to pay the Plantation and now she’s claiming Bankruptcy, closed her Charity.”
Now, I could have said “I told you so” but I didn’t have to. The penalty said it all. Part of what BW Unlimited does is to protect our client, the Charity. Unless you are holding a fundraiser in someone’s backyard or the charity is only hoping to raise a couple thousand dollars, then sell tickets at the door.
But, if a charity is hoping to grow their awareness, raise the maximum amount of dollars it can and host a well-planned and managed charity fundraiser – they must have an awesome venue to make them look at the top of their game – like Sally did. But, with any fantastic venue, they wish to be paid just before the event…why? To protect them. In order to do this, Charities MUST pre-sell their event tickets. MUST pre-sell their event tickets.
Why is this the case? When a charity committee is approaching possible guests, people will often say “I’ll pay at the door” in order to get rid of you. However, as Sally did, do not count these people as tickets sold. You can’t pay your bills with promises. In order to protect yourself and your charity, you absolutely positively MUST pre-sell tickets. Recently, I heard “Well how do you do that?” Get their credit card information, a check, cash or whatever but ensure your costs are covered first and foremost.
And another issue, if you pre-sell your tickets, your charity enters into the charity fundraiser in the “Black.” If you don’t know how to pre-sell tickets or you do not think anyone pre-sells tickets, go to any of the online ticket applications and see just how many events across the country are.
If you would like to know more ways of protecting your organization or charity from failure, contact us today at George@bwunlimited.com. We would love to help your charity go from the little league to the Pro’s at your next event.