365 Days Of Paying It Forward

'Tis the season -- at the end of the year, when companies pool their resources and spend millions to win consumers through advertising around the holidays.

Steve Weintraub, chief strategy officer at Veteran Tickets Foundation (VetTix), says the nonprofit provides event tickets to existing military, veterans and first responders. Many of the tickets come from tax-deductible donations, but the nonprofit has purchased about $10 million in tickets on its own to create supply for the demand.

“Service members miss a lot of life events,” he said. “Our motto is to give something to those who gave.”

Weintraub spent 32 years in the Marine Corps, active duty and reserves, retiring in 2019 at the rank of Colonel. He joined VetTix in 2008. The nonprofit celebrated its fifteenth anniversary in March 2023.



Veterans Day falls in November, but Weintraub says VetTix gives away donated tickets 365 days per year. He said the nonprofit distributes between 9,000 and 12,000 tickets daily, not just on Veterans Day or during end-of-year holidays.

During its first year as a 501(c)(3), the Tempe, Arizona-based organization distributed approximately 2,500 event tickets for free. Tickets to sporting events, concerts, and more are donated by companies and individuals. There's lots of data behind those contributions.

“We’re a data organization in many ways, but we don’t sell the data,” he said. “We have information about our more than 1.8 million members, but also have information about donors.”

The nearly 2 million members across the U.S. make the organization one of the largest veteran services organizations in the U.S. By the beginning of 2024, Weintraub estimates that the nonprofit will have distributed more than 20 million tickets.

“We collectively track the scan rate of the donated tickets when the person enters the venue,” he said. “Our system will automatically monitor the use of the tickets, allowing the businesses to keep track of when it is used.”

The nonprofit built a computer system to accept tickets from donors and distribute them to recipients electronically based on location.

High-demand events such as the Super Bowl are put into a computer lottery system that runs through random algorithms. Members can enhance their chances of being picked to receive the tickets by earning virtual coins, posting thank you notes that Weintraub calls testimonials on the website, or taking a picture of themselves at the venue wearing a VetTix shirt or holding some type of gear.  

Weintraub estimates about 1.2 million “testimonials” have been written and posted. Some of those are used in social-media posts on Facebook and other platform.

Other events that are not in such high demand are first come-first serve. Recipients pay a nominal delivery fee of no more than $14, with the highest fee for the 2023 Super Bowl.

All tickets are based on location. If an event takes place in Los Angeles, the person requesting the tickets must live in L.A.

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