The Powell River Money Society is a member of the Powell River Chamber of Commerce
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The Chamber accepts PR$ at their regular lunch meetings.

Non-Profits: Experience converting PR$ to CN$ at events

From November 2012 to April 2013, the PR Money Society used PR$ to improve attendance and income at three events. Here’s how we did it, so your non-profit group can do it too!

Here are the three events:

  1. Nov 2012 PR$ Launch Party
  2. Mar 2013 PR Best Baker Contest
  3. Apr 2013 talk and workshop with Mike Lewis on Local Financing

Nov 2012 PR$ Launch Party

This is the kind of event where normally it would be free, otherwise it’s hard to get people to come out to it at all! We charged CN$10 at the door – and gave everyone back PR$10 in return. Because the PR$ can be spent dollar for dollar like CN$, people saw that as being close to or equivalent to free. We also provided free food and fun. Forty-nine people paid at the door, and some asked for their change in PR$ as well, thus converting more PR$ to CN$.

Our big advantage at this event was that we had an existing group of people excited about the PR$, who wanted to attend and who wanted to get their hands on PR$. Because we had fairly high food expenses at this event, we ended up with CN$175 in hand at the end.

Mar 2013 PR Best Baker Contest

This event drew people who were interested in the baking rather than the PR$. Again, we charged CN$10 entry and gave back PR$10 in exchange. Attendees used their PR$ to vote for their favourite baker(s), but could also keep some and take them away to spend. Free food (samples from the competing bakers) was a big draw at this event. Seventy-nine adults and kids paid at the door, converting PR$755 into CN$755, out of which we paid the event expenses and finished up with just over CN$600 in hand. The bakers kept their PR$ “votes” so they all went away with something, totaling PR$659. Attendees took away PR$96 to spend at local businesses.

This event was organised specifically as a way for us to convert PR$ to CN$, and succeeded well in doing so. It also got PR$ into the hands of many people who might not otherwise have seen them, so it was a good awareness-raiser too, and moved a good chunk of PR$ out into the community to be spent on at local businesses.

This model, of exchanging CN$ for PR$ at the door and asking people to vote with their PR$, can be used for all kinds of entertaining events, from performances to food to art. It does not depend on people being interested in the PR$ at all: the event content is what will draw them in.

In order to make it work, you need to have enough PR$ in your non-profit account to cover the amount you expect to withdraw to exchange at the door, and you need to give PRMS plenty of warning that you’re going to need a lot of small bills. Your promotion must make it clear that people get PR$ back for their CN$ admission, and that they will be voting using PR$. It’s also important to tell people that they can only use PR$ exchanged at the door for voting: you don’t want them bringing extra PR$ from home to stuff the ballots.

We pre-counted PR$10 packages of $1 and $2 bills to make exchanging the $$ at the door quicker and easier, and changed the bakers’ votes back into larger bills at the end of the event rather than giving them large quantities of $1s and $2s to take away.

Apr 2013 talk by Mike Lewis on Local Financing

This was a joint event with PR Voices and Transition Town Powell River (TTPR). Entry was “by donation”, and any donation over $6 received PR$ back for the amount over $6. For example, if someone donated CN$10 at the door, they received PR$4 back in return.

The objective here was to increase the average amount donated at the door. At a previous similar event, donations received averaged CN$5 per person. At this event we averaged CN$8.50 per person over 44 attendees, bringing in an extra CN$154 (compared to the $5 average) at a cost of handing out PR$92.

This technique could be used at any event where you are charging on a sliding scale (offer PR$ back for anything paid over a certain amount) or by donation. It helps if your audience is likely to be interested in the PR$, but should still work if they don’t. The worst that can happen is that you don’t get more income than you otherwise would.

It takes a little more work at the door because someone has to watch what people are giving, and hand them back PR$ as appropriate. You need to have enough PR$ in your non-profit account to cover the amount you expect to withdraw to exchange at the door, and if you expect that to be a fairly large amount, you’ll need to give PRMS advance notice of what you need.

How Your Group can Benefit

If you have PR$ sitting in your non-profit account, and you organise events, you can use those PR$ to increase your CN$ income without putting extra financial pressure on your supporters. If you have questions about how to make this work for your specific event, contact us and we’ll help you think it through.