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You are right in that it only works with groups having a significant number of participants. I have found, however, that in some instances the group can and will pound the pavement (so to speak) selling to family members (aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc.) and upping the potential number of possible sales.
It isn’t as easy, approaching the small groups for the fund-raiser angle, but there are ways so long as you’re comfortable with setting ranges and numbers accordingly.
Essentially, I have set up my operation to bring in a minimum of $500 per two hour, or less, school event (performance, etc.) gig. Many video people might prefer to make more, others perhaps less, but it is a figure I am able to live with, has brought me renewable business and a bunch of referral work from other departments, other schools and private individuals or businesses. That is based on a NON-fund-raiser formula of “we will shoot for free if you guarantee us a minimum sales of 20 copies at $25” and pretty much everyone we’ve ever approached goes for it.
I offer “fund-raiser” prices of $20 for 50 sales or more guaranteed; $15 for 100-plus; even occasionally making deal of $12 for 500 or more sales guaranteed, but granted few are able or wish to go that amount. It’s there if they have the numbers or potential however. And it is lucrative. Once the shoot is in the can, the basic straightforward editing is done, DVD duplication is a piece of cake if you have a duplication tower of 3-up, 7-up or more – it becomes a “work once, sell many” production. I sell it to the group for a set price, they market it for whatever they believe the market will bear.
I’ve even had them sell for $35 when doing the 20 @ $25 minimum – whatever. I’m not greedy. With ONE client exception, I ALWAYS get MORE than 20 sales whether it be direct to parents; direct to parents with the organization handling it and issuing a single check; or the organization purchasing the minimum (and additional orders) and paying me directly, then doing whatever it is they have in mind.
Some will try to trip the producer up, going with the minimums and (perhaps/probably) knowing they can top out at 100 units or more. Then they will come back and ask if they get the reduced price.
I say SURE for sales over and above the initially agreed-upon numbers. For example: I get $25 for the first 20, reduced rate thereafter; or agreed price for 30, 40, 50 – whatever minimum we originally agreed upon, then subsequent orders can get the break. Few go with this convoluted approach however, so it isn’t a major concern, normally.
So, yes, selling small groups using the fund-raiser approach is a tough one, though the group could conceivably recoup part or all of their costs if they buy outright and sell for higher prices.
Also, there’s nothing to prevent you from being a bit altruistic or community-minded in your pricing if you believe that by doing so it will expand your exposure and get you other money-making opportunities from the school, faculty, students or parents involved.