Selling tickets for fundraisers is a big part of PTO life, and can at times be confusing and overwhelming. There are many things to consider and coordinate to get your ticket sales going.
Will you sell tickets online or in-person? How will you collect payments for tickets? Are there any legal restrictions to selling tickets? These are all factors that need to be researched and planned for, to ensure your fundraiser is a success.
To help you out, we have assembled this guide to help guide you in setting up ticket sales for your next fundraiser.
Payment Processing Fees
Before setting up your payment processing system for your ticket sales, it’s important to realize there will typically be processing fees involved with collecting payments.
You will need to decide whether the PTO will eat those fees, or if you will pass them on to the purchasers.
The exact amount of the fees differs from one payment processor to the next (see Collecting Money for Ticket Sales section below for more details on fees).
Some PTOs have had success adding the payment processing fees to the ticket prices. These PTOs report that they have had no pushback from purchasers when they explain at the point of purchase what the fees are and why they’re being added as a surcharge.
Other PTOs handle processing differently based on what type of sales they are doing. For example, when selling goods such as spirit wear they eat the fee, but when receiving money for things that are considered contributions (e.g. fundraising tickets) they have the purchaser cover the fee.
It’s up to your PTO to decide how payment processing fees will be handled for various transactions. Consider how your purchasers will react and how it will impact overall sales when making your decision.
PTOs sometimes overlook the fact that raffles are legally considered gambling by many states and counties. This impacts your fundraising activity in a couple ways:
- Some payment processors will not allow you to accept payments for gambling activities, especially when payment is being made by credit card.
- Some states and counties prohibit raffles unless you successfully apply for a license.
Before holding a fundraising raffle, be sure to check your state and local raffle laws. If you cannot find this information online, reach out to your County Treasurer for information and guidance.
In many states, payments for raffle tickets cannot be processed online — they must be purchased in person with cash or debit card (not credit card). And in many cases, a gambling license must be obtained before you start selling tickets.
Other states have looser requirements, but you may have difficulty getting your payment processor to collect payments and transfer the funds to you because they are restricted on the types of transactions that are legally allowed to process.
Your best bet with raffles is to collect payments in person for cash or check (or debit card), and check your local gaming laws to make sure you don’t cross any legal lines that can land your PTO into hot water.
If you want to collect payments for raffle tickets online, consider using an online platform that specifically supports raffle ticket sales — and make sure you also check your local gaming laws to make sure you don’t run afoul of the law.
Collecting Money for Ticket Sales
There are three main ways to collect payments for ticket sales:
- Event promotion/ticket selling platforms
- Credit card processors
Note of caution: In recent years there have been reports that Brown Paper Tickets has been withholding payments from some PTOs and other organizations, so proceed with caution if you choose to go with them.
If you have your own system for issuing tickets and just need a way to accept credit cards, these are some of the more popular credit card processing companies:
Square offers both onsite and online payment processing. Their standard processing fee is 2.6% + 10¢ for contactless payments, swiped or inserted chip cards, and swiped magstripe cards.
Payments that are manually keyed-in, processed using Card on File, or manually entered using Virtual Terminal have a 3.5% + 15¢ fee.
Online payments through your website have a 2.9% + 30¢ fee per transaction.
Stripe is ideal for ease of integrating into your website and provides you with a complete payments platform. Payment fees are 2.9% + 30¢ per successful card charge. No setup fees, monthly fees, or hidden fees.
Stripe also offers a discounted processing fee for qualifying nonprofit organizations, but their charity pricing structure is only applicable for organizations accepting donations (e.g. not selling products or tickets).
Cheddar Up is geared toward PTOs. Payers pay a convenience fee of 3.5% + $0.45. You can also turn on additional payment methods including Echeck (fees vary, but can be as low as $0.45 per check) and Cash/check (free).
PayPal offers discounted transaction rates for confirmed 501(c)(3) charities for most products, with no setup, statement, withdrawal, or cancellation fees. Non-profit transaction rates are 1.99% + $0.49.
And then, of course, there’s the old standby of accepting cash and checks in-person.
Accepting Payments on Your Website
There are various ways to integrate payment processing directly into your PTO website, depending on how your website is set up and which payment processor you are using.
If your PTO website isn’t currently set up to display event information and accept online RSVPs and payments, consider upgrading your website to include these features. It can make coordinating events and accepting payments a whole lot easier.
Here are some screenshots showing how we’ve implemented events and payment processing in our PTO website package:
Know ahead of time what kind of turnout you can expect at events and activities. Parents and families can RSVP for events directly on your website.
Parents can stay on top of activities by easily adding events from your PTO calendar to their own calendar. Above is a PTO website example of what parents will see.
You can never have enough volunteers. Make it easy for parents to browse through volunteer opportunities and register for the ones they’re interested in — all right there on your website.
Collecting payments for membership dues, activities, events, etc. can be a challenging undertaking. Make it easier for you and for parents by accepting payments online through your website. This can be a hassle to set up when using a typical PTO website builder, but we do it for you!
If you’re looking for an improved website experience for your PTO, take a look at our PTO Website package.