“I’ll pay you at the Door”

30 Sep


I told her…I warned her but she just wouldn’t listen to me.  So, I had to let her experience it for herself.  Even though I hated to see her financially demolished…she thought I was wrong and they were right because in the end, they were all of close friends.  I cringed when I got the phone call and heard her crying her eyes out “What am I going to do George…oh my god what am I going to do? (Sobbing)…I should have listened to you, I’m such a fool.”  But I saw that train wreck from miles away.

More about the above in a little while but for now, I want and need you to understand this.  First, understand that I and everyone from BW Unlimited is here to protect you, our Charity Partners and Clients all over North America.

If you ask anyone about me, they will tell you that I am an extremely direct person.  I don’t cut corners, I don’t “Fluff” anything and I’m not a hand holder or a Yes Man.  If you don’t want to hear the truth, you better walk away because I am going to say what desperately needs to be said.  So here it goes…

If you’re a Gambler, then ignore this entire post and stop reading now – that is, if you don’t mind rolling the dice with your money and your charities…this does not apply to you.  But if you’re not, then keeping reading.  If you allow people to tell you that they will Pay for their tickets at the door of your Charity Event – You’re nuts!!!  I do not care if they are family, friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, your banker, your accountant, your doctor or even your priest – absolutely always, 100% of time, get them to pay for their event tickets PRIOR to the event itself.  This is a not a “Maybe”…it’s a certain.

As you approach ticket sales for your event, let’s recall exactly why you are selling tickets.  Ticket sales cover the individual meals by the caterer.  For instance, if you are hosting your Charity Event at a Catering facility/Restaurant, they will charge you or your organization for the product which they are providing – here is an example of everything which you are normally charged for:

1 – Hall Rental

2 – Appetizers (if appropriate)

3 – Meal (Sit down or buffet)

4 – Hall Rental

5 – AV (sound system, screens, LCD Projectors, lighting)

6 – Staff (Bartenders etc.)

7 – Misc. Costs

8 – Service Charge (normally 20%)

We are going to use an aggregate charge of $14,000.00 as a total charge.  You are planning for 400 people being there.  Using simple mathematics – $14,000.00 divided by 400 = $35 per person.  That is, if you sell 400 tickets at $35.00 each, you will absolutely cover the cost of your event.  Now, should Charity Event Organizers charge $35.00 a person, No.  But that is the Base Cost of hosting your event.  If organizers decide to bring in other subcontractors, such as Graphically Designed items such as invitations, Digital Invitations, Programs, Printing Costs, Rentals etc., those costs should also be added into the $14,000.00 total.

However, for this example – let’s concentrate on the $14,000.00 for the venue.  Most likely two (2) weeks prior to your event, the venue or caterer will ask you for a head count (how many people are coming).  From the head count you provide, they acquire enough food & drinks for your guests.

But here is the issue – the moment you put pen to paper and sign your life away, you and your organization is committed.

So now let’s talk about human nature – I don’t care if you are in the Southeast Region of the U.S. or the Northwest, Northeast or Southwest, people are all the same.  When you approach someone about your event and they say “Oh, I’m going to pay at the door ok?” or “Oh I’ll be there and bringing a few of my friends”…you should either say “No, we are not selling tickets at the door” or turn and Run like the wind.

This is the excuse everyone uses when they are not coming to your event – why you ask?  Well, no one wants to be looked at in a bad light.  They don’t want to say to you “Nah, I think I’m going to lay around in bed all day and watch the game.”  So if they are not coming or even if it’s a 50/50, they will always say “I’m going to pay at the door.”  They are lying to you!!!

So, I cannot tell you how many times I have seen this happen and 100% of the time, the organizers have been severely disappointed.  Remember now, you signed your life away for $14,000.00 because you were absolutely sure all of your family and friends were going to pay at the door.  Remember that!!!!

ImageSo here is the nightmare – all of your “Pay at the doors” do not show (which they will NOT – believe me) do not show up and also bring their friends, guess what…you are still responsible for the $14,000.00 contract you signed but now…no one is there to help you pay it.  Do you think the Caterer or venue cares that your “So Called” friends did not show?  No – it’s business.

I’ve even heard this one, and it made me laugh when I heard it “Oh, I’m going to call around to those people and get them to pay for the tickets”…Lol yeah sure…that’s when you will hear some of the craziest excuses ever thought up.

But you are left holding the bag – a $14,000.00 bag!!!

So, do you understand what I am talking about?!?!?  Cover yourself, protect your yourself and your organizations interest – only PRE-SOLD TICKETS!!!  Tell everyone – WE ARE NOT SELLING TICKETS AT THE DOOR!!!  Who cares if you only sell 200 tickets, the venue will adjust the charge and why?  Because they don’t want to lose money in the end and go through a court battle.

On another note, let’s just say that you have everything donated – the hall (which is normally not the best place but that’s another Blog), the food (again, not great food usually) etc., you still are hosting the event to raise money.  A successful fundraiser does not happen with an empty room right?

So going back to the top and how I started this Blog – a client was hosting a charity fundraiser and would not listen to my advice and said that all of her contacts promised they were coming (380 of them) and only 18 showed up and they were her volunteers.  She lost close to $30,000.00 because the venue was incredible and there were other activities happening surrounding the charity event.  None of them showed up, she had to claim bankruptcy and shut down her Non Profit.

The Choice is yours…Cover yourself or Walk blind folded into the lion’s den.


Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Uncategorized


2 responses to ““I’ll pay you at the Door”

  1. George

    September 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    100% correct!! I help with an organization that always followed this rule until the last 2 years because of the economy. Typical attendance has always been 450 on average. Well they started “saving” plates for walk ups. They told the hall to expect 400 and they had only sold 250 tickets in advance. Meal cost was 29.25 per plate for a home style dinner, they payed (just for the meal) a total of $13,162.50. They only had 35 people that paid at the door!!! That means we LOST $4,826.25 on the 165 that said they would be there and did not show. Add to that cost of raffles and prizes they purchased because donations were also way down of $5400. So now the total out of pocket is $10,226.50 (un-paid for meals and extra raffles and prizes). They then said well we took in $18,500 for the event…….that was BEFORE they subtracted the $10,226.50 so the grand total net was only $8,273.50. Had they not counted on “walk up” ticket sales they could have made the $18,500 because they would not have had to purchase the extra plates as well as the extra raffles and prizes to cover the people who never showed up.

    $10,226.50 is a heck of a lot of money to loose regardless of the reason, especially for a reason you had control over.

    • bwufundraising

      September 30, 2012 at 5:34 pm

      George…unfortunately, this is sad but extremely true all over the United States. Every fundraising group, whether it be a Chapter Committee, fundraising committee or a few folks hosting a Benefit, they all shoot for the stars. An experienced fundraiser knows even before starting to have to work their butts off to sell out an event. Everybody wants to believe in the “Best” in people but when money hits the table, you better cover your collective butts.

      One of your comments about having raffle and auction prizes is a cost I didn’t even add in, in my blog. As you know, commonly with all of the Outdoor Charities (which only applies to outdoor charities), the chapters don’t realize they have to buy those items. For some reason, they forget or ignore that issue. I was just talking with a client and informed them of that fact. Here is an issue everyone likes to ignore – what happens if you purchased the item for $125.00 and it only sells for $75.00? You lose. And for that exact reason…that is why our long line of “No Risk Auction Items” absolutely benefits charities – because you HAVE to profit, if not, send them back.

      Thanks George for your comment, you are 100% right and I welcome you to please post your comments on all of my blogs. Cheers ~ G


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