Who, or what, is BODO?

Spitalfields Music’s Executive Director, Abigail Pogson shares her thoughts on why our BODO (Buy One Donate One) scheme is an offer well worth considering.

Yesterday on my way from Spitalfields Market to the tube I passed six Buy One, Get One Free signs in shop windows. The ubiquitous BOGOF. Every time I see one of these signs it makes me think of our Buy One, Donate One scheme and what an unlikely proposition this might seem – effectively Get One, Pay for Two. A bargain-hunter’s nightmare! And yet since we started the scheme four festivals ago it has become increasingly popular – we’re edging towards our 1000th donated ticket.

It strikes me that, despite appearances, maybe our offer is the better bargain in the long-term. The recent demise of Waterstones threw a new spotlight on what was really happening with Three for Two and the piles of unread third books we all have. In buying an extra ticket and giving it away, we’re not burdening ourselves with another thing to consume or use, we’re creating something out of nothing for another person. Suddenly they have something which otherwise simply would not have been there for them. Somebody who is new to live music gets to experience a concert and the excitement of performance. And who knows where this might lead – we have had some amazing feedback from people who have received these tickets over the past two years. For some it was a special one-off treat and a memory to refer to; an experience to add to their life story. For others it has been a new interest and something they want to repeat as often as they can. In all cases it has been something important in its moment – quite a long way from an unread book gathering dust in a corner.

Neither the donation side, nor the distribution side of this scheme look like waning. Which reminds me that our scheme has its own acronym – BODO. With its proximity to Dodo, we used to joke about how quickly it might become extinct. Not that quickly, it would seem. On the surface, it’s a very bad deal at the point of sale. But it would seem that there are enough far-sighted people around to have worked out that at the point of use it becomes extremely good value indeed.  As Christmas approaches I expect that sightings of the BOGOF will become increasingly frequent and each time I see a sign it will bring a smile to my face as I think of our natty alternative and the generous ranks of our audience who have chosen it.


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