scalping in a good way

Tearing a piece out of the hearts of college entrepreneurs everywhere, a Boston-area company buys hot concert tickets at face value, sells them at scalper's prices, and donates the difference to charity. has convinced some of the top acts on tour to give it first crack at some of the juiciest stage-side seating in venues across the country.

Interestingly, the company is a for-profit, although its avowed purpose is to raise funds to support not-for-profit organizations such as Habitat For Humanity, Malaria No More, and Partnership for a Drug-Free America (Grateful Dead tickets benefiting this charity would be ironic). According to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), TFC makes its money on a transaction fee tacked onto the marked-up price, ala Ticketmaster.

At the moment tickets are available for upcoming performances by Coldplay, Billy Joel & Elton John, Brad Paisley, Kenny Chesney, Phish, Diana Krall, and more. If you want to catch Coldplay in Des Moines, Iowa, you'll pay $100 over list for a front-10-rows seat. Kenny Chesney in Tampa will set you back $205 ($80 face value plus $125 donation) plus handling fees. Chesney donations will go to in part to Plan!t Now. Coldplay ticket tack-ons will go to Oxfam and other charities.

In the past, the company has featured ducats from the Boston Red Sox, Rolling Stones, Barbara Streisand, and other top-name acts. It claims to have donated millions of dollars to date, even though the "donations" don't seem to be tax deductible.

I find the company's strategy to take advantage of pure capitalism to fund social programs very creative. It's much harder to resent a charity for scalping the best seats in the house than it is that troll on Craigslist.

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