Charging for Community Development

This evening I had a meeting with my colleagues from Ignite Stamford, an organization we are slowly formalizing, evolving, and relaunching as a unique brand (coming soon). The question came up as to whether we should continue to charge a nominal $10 fee per event attendee, or if it would be better to open up the event for free. There are advantages to each, of course. On one hand, charging money frees the organization from relying on sponsors to pay for things like food and drinks for events. On the other hand, free means that as long as someone can get to the event location, they are able to participate and partake. As you may have already been able to tell, I am leaning towards the former.

From an attendee point of view, $10 is not a lot of money for this event. Each person who attends is given more than their money’s worth in consumables, alone. Add in the value of the event itself, and the organization is significantly undervaluing its tickets. From an organizational point of view, we aren’t keeping any of the money as profit or paying ourselves, but we can use some of the income to fund cool community development projects. Seems like a greater community ROI to me.

What do you think? Should community development events like these be free or paid? Tweet at me (@BrienBuckman) with #IgniteOp and let me know!