Tix4Cause flips empty seats for charity cash.

Another weekend, another game day.

Though routine in Mary Nemetz’s household, she still hadn’t come to grips with sacrificing her favorite television program to watch grown men run around chasing a ball. On this day, Nemetz was ready to flip the channel, even if it meant World War III with her brothers.

Nemetz’s mother pulled her aside, “This is a sports household; it’s what your father does for a living.” Through tears, Nemetz watched the game alongside her father and brothers.

But gradually, she began to realize the importance of sports, that they could bring her family together. Nemetz grew into a sports fanatic.

“My dad influenced me so much,” Nemetz said of her father, a coach. “He was one of the last men I knew that built himself from the ground up coming from the depression. He did so much for so many people.”

Her mother was a social worker. “They taught me at a young age to give back. We were always active volunteering with disadvantaged children, teaching kids to read, and now I’ve also worked with the Special Olympics,” Nemetz said.

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Alongside her husband Kevin, Nemetz developed Tix4Cause, a platform that allows ticket holders to sporting, music, theater and other events to donate their unused tickets to their cause of choice. “There were only a few ways to give back that I knew of, writing a check, going to auctions…I wanted to make an impact in a different way,” Nemetz said. “We were thinking, ‘Is there a way we can give back while using tickets?’”

Ticket4Cause2Since its inception in 2010, Tix4Cause has helped raise over $350,000 for a number of charities, with 90 percent of the sale price on donated tickets going to the organization of choice. Tix4Cause has also added millions of tickets for sale through its secondary market. When purchased through the Tix4Cause portal, up to 50 percent of the service fee benefits the charitable organization.

“We provide a technology to make a difference,” she said. “One season ticket holder can make a huge impact on a charity.”

In 2013 alone, Tix4Cause partnered with over 700 organizations including Autism Speaks, the Aids Foundation of Chicago, The Salvation Army and the Cancer Research Institute, as well as a number of lesser known charities.

Michael Skala, a design engineer and season ticket holder for the Chicago Cubs, donated seats via Tix4Cause. “I couldn’t go to a few games and I was looking for a way to donate tickets that would go to a good cause,” he said. That cause was Snow City Arts, an organization that provides one­-on­-one instruction in the arts. From visual arts and filmmaking, to writing, music and theater, it provides workshops and assessment practices that align with state and federal learning standards to patients in Chicago area hospitals.

Mike Wren, development and communications manager for Snow City Arts, said Tix4Cause allows its donors to support them in a way that is most comfortable for them.

“We are not a huge organization, which is why every dollar counts for us,” Wren said. “The great thing about [Tix4Cause] is we don’t have to do a thing. It’s a simple relationship; it feels like we have another partner in the community.”

Since August 2013, Snow City Arts has raised $4,200, with each of its nine donations averaging out to about $450. This enabled Snow City Arts to purchase the creative writing supplies needed at each of their partner hospitals for an entire year. It also facilitated bedside workshops, supported a musician in residence for one month and funded an iPad for use in the workshops.

“It’s helpful that we don’t have to extend any money in order to raise more funds for our cause,” Wren said. “It’s a great way for a donor to feel like they are contributing to us without having to write a check or donate time.”

Chris Feiss, a CFO at a marketing company in Annapolis, Md., purchased tickets from the secondary market on Tix4Cause. “This year was the first time I purchased tickets for the playoffs,” Feiss said. “I bought tickets for the Baltimore Orioles.” His purchase benefited the Wounded Heroes Foundation, which assists men and women who’ve sustained injuries in the Armed Forces.

“It’s sort of a slam dunk, you get to buy the same tickets you would on another website, but you choose who you want the proceeds to go to,” Feiss said. “The agency fee is what really did it for me. There was no question.”

Tix4Cause is also expanding its services to events and hoping to reach universities. Ultimately Nemetz hopes it will bring others together. As she said, “people are connecting across the nation and they don’t even know it.”