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It’s an age-old question: to buy or not to buy. For customers, the answer doesn’t always come so easily. When it comes to events, one of the challenges that can make or break a purchasing decision is the price of a ticket. While you can cross your fingers and hope that a customer decides to purchase a ticket anyways, that isn’t always the reality. It’s not uncommon to now see pay-what-you-can (PWYC) pricing options popping up more and more often. More businesses are letting their customers decide how much value their product, service, or experience is worth. But what really happens when customers choose their own prices, and how can your event benefit from it?

What is PWYC pricing?

PWYC ticketing is an example of the gift economy. In short, this works like a donation where there is no set cost to attend the event and guests can dictate the price to pay as much or as little as they can afford. Seems a little crazy, right? But PWYC ticketing doesn’t mean that your event can’t make a profit. Event producers also have the option to set a minimum accepted payment, like $1 or $10, to which guests can then choose to pay just that amount or above the threshold. You can also offer a suggested or “anchor” price to help give guests a better idea of what they can pay and remove any added pressure.


Believe it or not, there’s the possibility that you may make more money using a PWYC system. Your guest’s generosity when the pricing is up to them may surprise you. When people are able to set their own prices, almost everyone pays something— and sometimes even well over the suggested price.


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Is PWYC ticketing right for your event?

Let’s breakdown four common situations where PWYC tickets may be the right fit for you and your event’s needs:


1. You want to be inclusive and let anyone attend regardless of their economic situation. 

PWYC pricing eliminates purchasing barriers between you and your audience. It’s a great way to promote diversity and inclusion within your event by allowing people of all different backgrounds, regardless of financial status, to attend. You can further build trust with these communities and introduce yourself to newer audiences who may not have been able to attend an event of yours in the past.


2. You’re offering it as a one-night or one-performance special.

Want to fill the house? PWYC pricing can encourage full capacity during concerts and performances, especially on slow days or premiere nights. If the performance is only being held once, this also widens accessibility to those wanting to attend.


3. You’re hosting a charity event that your guests have a strong desire to support.

If you’ve already been hosting all of your charity events for free, utilizing PWYC ticketing can give you an extra boost when it comes to donations. ​Now with a PWYC option, ​you would be able to continue offering the same free ticket price (using a $0 minimum) but now you’re able to give attendees the opportunity to provide a donation up-front. When you’re raising money for a good cause or charity that your guests feel strongly about, it’s more likely that they will be generous in their donation.


4. Entertainment includes a popular artist or local talent that guests will want to support.

Most people don't love the idea of handing over money to a faceless corporation, but they'd happily throw a few extra bucks to an independent artist that they love. If fans are attending your event to support a local artist, make it simple for them to show their favorite creators some extra love. You can set a minimum price (the cost of a regular ticket) and write a description that lets guests know any amount over that will go directly to the performers.

Setting Up PWYC Ticketing with Passage

When creating an event in Passage, you can make either a single ticket type as PWYC or it can be an additional option to the standard ticket types available. When you select the PWYC ticket option, you'll need to set a minimum ticket price. You can set this to any value, including $0 to make a donation completely optional. Then continue with your normal additional steps, like choosing how many tickets are available. It’s as easy as that! If you need any additional support, read our online support articles or schedule a demo call with our staff to help you add this ticket type to your event.

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Screenshot of pay-what-you-can ticket type in Passage software

Wrapping Up

The popularity of PWYC ticketing isn’t slowing down now. With several advantages, it’s worth considering whether or not this ticket type is for your event. Remember that not all PWYC strategies are created equally. If you have your own financial restrictions or a set profit goal, it may not be the best fit. However, this is a good option when considering any of the situations discussed above as it’s flexible in that you can use it as a consistent pricing strategy or for a one-time event only.


Using a PWYC pricing system not only conveys confidence in the quality of your event, but it also empowers your guests by giving them a sense of control and showing that you value their opinions. Try adding an additional ticket type to your next event and see how it can benefit you!

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