An Adults Only Event

The 6/14/212 edition of reports that Sault Symphony Orchestra supporters discovered food and silent auction items purchased via credit card during a recent orchestra fundraising event appeared on their statements as a Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario adult retail store.

Apparently, the credit card terminal used during the orchestra’s fundraising event was provided by an orchestra board member and owner of said adult store. The article quotes the orchestra’s coordinator of projects, programs, and grants saying that the organization doesn’t have the budget to purchase or rent credit card terminals and they were unaware that the charges would appear on donor statements as coming from the adult store.

“We never had a debit machine before so were really happy to have one this time around. We’re too poor to be able to afford one and all the fees involved with it.”

credit cardIn order to find out more, I contacted Sault Symphony Orchestra General Manager Patti Gardi to see if the organization was aware of the newer mobile phone and tablet based credit card processing options available from providers like Square and PayPal; both of which provide free card swipe devices, free software, and no setup or monthly/annual account fees.

According to Gardi, the patrons they have been in touch with have understood the situation and they have yet to receive any negative feedback from those who attended the event.

We examined the service from Square in a pair of articles from 2011 (here and here) and if nothing else, the Sault Symphony Orchestra’s situation is a good reminder that affordable credit card processing options do exist, but they are new enough that the field would likely benefit by getting the word out.


[ilink url=””]Square[/ilink]

[ilink url=””]PayPal Here[/ilink]

I haven’t used the service from PayPal before but am curious to hear from others in the field that have. You can read about the Colorado Springs Philharmonic’s experience with Square here.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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0 thoughts on “An Adults Only Event”

    • Good to know Dave, I’ve never seen one for sale at a retail outlet but yes, the card swipe readers and app are free and they get them out in good measure.

      The one thing nonprofits should do after setting up an account is getting a request to remove the limit on how much can be transferred to your bank account per instance. If memory serves, the initial limit is very low ($500) but that can be removed per request. This will prevent any delays in transferring money from Square to your bank account.

      I don’t believe the PayPal option has those restrictions but you do have to go into the system and manually transfer funds whereas Sqaure does so automatically as transactions come in.

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