We're in the midst of researching options for ticketing software for a big training for arts organizations. It's a complicated area, with the potential of a lot of advanced requirements. You don't need to be a very large arts venue to want to be able to sell tickets to reserved seats both through a box office and online. And pretty much any venue would want to be able to integrate data about patrons who have bought tickets with a fundraising process, to consider them as donors. But when you put these two together, it makes for a complex, and often expensive system.
General Admissions Ticketing
At the lowest end of the spectrum, there's general admission seating solutions. You can use the same vendors in this area as you would use for paid event registration -- as for registering for a workshop or a class. Vendors in this space, like EventBrite
(or see our Few Good Event Registration Tools
for a broader overview) allow you to sell tickets online, including different levels of tickets to the same event (like VIP or mezzanine tickets). BrownPaperTickets is particularly compelling in this area, as they'll send your patrons actual paper tickets via mail, if desired.
Box office staff could certainly buy tickets for patrons that call in via the same interface, but there's no particular support for this, so it may be awkward. These tools don't offer anything in the way of fundraising support, so you'll have to integrate the data to with another system to do most any donation solicitiation. You can export a file to import into any donor management system, or EventBrite or BrownPaperTickets both integrate with Salesforce
Stand-Alone Solutions for Reserved Seats
If you just need to sell reserved seats for your venue, and it's not critical to you to easily pull your event patrons into your fundraising process, there's a lot of small online software that will allow you to easily sell tickets. These websites -- like Tix.com
, and Vendini
--- allow you to sell tickets, often including box office functionality to print tickets to box office printers. BrownPaperTickets has also recently added reserved seating functionality. In a similar vein, New Concept Software's Tick-It! Trak Pro
and Center Stage Software's WinTix/WebTix
provide both installed box office software and online solutions.
None of these systems will support any kind of robust fundraising, however, such as tracking pledges or gifts in kind.
Integrated Constituent Tracking and Ticketing Solutions
Even for a small organization, it can be very useful to have a single system that allows you to track not just tickets but also a full fundraising process -- from pledges to gift-in-kind to major donor cultivation processes. Easy-Ware's TotalInfo
and Arts Management Systems' Theatre Manage
r are both interesting options in this realm, tailored for nonprofits. They provide affordable software which is installed on your own computer, with integrated online ticketing functionality.
Patron Technologies, best known for the broadcast email tool PatronMail, has just introduced a new system called PatronManager
which is built on top of the Salesforce platform to include reserved seating ticketing and box-office functionality. It’s an interesting option especially for small to medium sized organizations who have a number of constituents to track in addition to their patrons.
For medium sized and larger organizations, Choice Ticketing Systems
and AudienceView Ticketing
provide more sophisticated functionality. Neither of these tools specializes in donor management, but each provides some constituent tracking functionality as well as the ability to take and track donations. Paciolan
, recently acquired by Comcast, provides ticketing and fundraising functionality for larger organizations. Blackbaud’s The Patron Edge
also provides box office functionality, with some ability to integrate into The Raisers Edge.
Last but certainly not least, Tessitura
is the Cadillac of the arts management world. It's very well respected for highly usable functionality that truly integrates complex box office, online ticketing, and fundraising and more. It's a complex system that's much more appropriate for organizations with multi-million dollar budgets than for small ones -- it requires considerable customization, training, and staff time to use.
Solutions Specializing in Commercial Venues
If you have complex box office needs but don't need a lot of fundraising functionality, you may find that the ticketing systems used primarily by stadiums and commercial venues work well for your needs. These systems -- like ProVenue
by Tickets.com, Ticketmaster Classic
or Ticketmaster Archtics
-- don't tend to have much sophisticated functionality to track donor interactions, pledges, or a donation made with an event payment, but instead focus on complex online and offline box office functionality needed by venue.
We’re still in the midst of researching, so your comments would be very helpful. Know the ticketing space? Who have we missed? What did we get wrong? (Please note that this isn’t intended to be a comprehensive list of EVERY ticketing option, just an overview of some of the most widely used).
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