Cats, bears and pricing strategy for charities

Olof Williamson was a Senior Consultant at NCVO, looking at the latest thinking on funding, finance and public services. Olof has left NCVO and his posts have been retained for here for reference.

Christmas has come and gone in a blur of wrapping paper and crackers. And you probably received a few charity cards over the season. But did Santa bring you a £199 charity teddy?

The Merrythought Soldier Bear, available from the Help for Heroes website, caused a bit of a stir during the festive period due to the premium price-tag, prompting one charity colleague to ask – is a teddy ever worth two hundred quid?

To which the reply was yes. For teddy bear collectors, perhaps.

And another recent story caught my eye, also with a pricing angle. NCVO members RSPCA have been in the press for charging members of the public £12 for a previously free lost pet service that moved online (see stories in The Daily Telegraph and Daily Mail). Again you can ask the question, is £12 reasonable to find a beloved lost pet?

Probably yes again, for many of us.

Exploring pricing strategy

So what is going on here? The answer is one of my interests: pricing strategy.

I haven’t seen the numbers behind these stories, but I’ll hazard a guess that RSPCA have decided that charging could be a useful way of managing demand for their popular lost pet service, and that Help for Heroes have spotted that some of their supporters want to make a statement by buying a premium soft-toy for a loved one. Hence the divergent price tags for each of these offerings.

And why not meet demand in those ways, if the money goes to the cause?

So what do you think?

Have you launched a premium version of a standard product or service? What kind of things have you had to consider in pricing your services for beneficiaries, users, or for supporters?

I would love to know your thoughts – comment below with your ideas and experiences.



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