Fundraising: How Much to Charge for Event Program Ads

Fundraising: How Much to Charge for Event Program Ads

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

One of the quandaries when producing a souvenir or game program for your sports team or school event, is how much to charge for advertising. Many people simply charge an amount that sounds fair. However, there is a more business-like method you can use, based on the actual cost of production.

Advertising Goal
Your minimal goal in soliciting advertisers should be to cover your production costs. Then you have the option of giving the souvenirs away or selling them as a fundraiser.

In general, programs should be 50% editorial/photos, and 50% advertising. So, if you know how large you want the program to be, you can determine the number and price you will charge for ads.

Formula for Ad Price
To determine ad prices, decide on the desired size of the program, then get an estimate on the print¬ing/production costs for the entire season.

Now divide this price by the number of pages in the program. This will give you a price per page. For example, if your program is 12 pages long and your production costs will be $1200, your cost per page is $100.

This is the price you'll charge for a half-page ad (remember, on average, each page will be 50% ad). In this case, then, a half-page ad would cost $100.

Different-Sized Ads
You can keep things simple by charging a straight percentage of this $100 base rate for full-page, quarter-page and 1/8 page ads: for example, a full-page ad would cost $200, a quarter-page would cost $50.

Differential Pricing
However, you could get a little fancier and charge a higher percentage of this base rate for smaller ads. Standard practice in the publishing industry, it's an incentive for prospective clients to purchase a larger ad.

For example, you might charge only $170 for a full-page ad (1.7 times the half-page base rate), but $60 for a quarter-page ad (60% of the base rate, instead of 50%) and $40 for an 1/8th page (40% of the base rate instead of 12%). You can then promote the larger ads to prospective clients by saying the greater visibility and the price for the size is a better value.

Premium Locations
Also standard practice is to charge extra for the highest visibility pages. This in¬cludes the inside covers, and even more expensive, the back outside cover. In most cases, these locations should be full-page ads. You might charge an extra $50-$100 for these pages, based on a $100 per page base rate.

Alternate Method
Instead of deciding on a program size then determining ad rates based on that size and its production cost, you could set an ad cost first, then determine the size of your program based on the number of ads you can sell.

Programs are an important part of any sports competition, theater production, or school event. They provide information that identifies the participants and enhances the experience of the audience members. And, with the names of the participants in print, the programs can become important souvenirs for relatives and participants alike.

Programs can also be used to raise important funds for your program, but a business-like approach is needed to make sure that the program will at least break even, and hopefully make a profit. Using a pricing system based on production costs can make sure this occurs.

1. Ilona Bray, Effective Fundraising for Nonprofits, 3rd Edition, NOLO, 2010.
2. John R. Johnson, Promotion for SportDirectors, Human Kinetics Publishers, 1996.

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© 2011, Physical Education,

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