If you are in the fundraising business, events can play an important role in your fundraising for both cultivation and stewardship purposes.  Events are a great way to showcase and inform your donors on the impact of their gifts and how they are making a difference in your organization.  Events also are a wonderful way to engage new prospective donors as you look to engage them more with your organization.

Hosting the fundraising events can be time consuming and costly.  Below are ten tips to help cut down on costs to improve your return on investment while at the same time creating a great event:

  • Figure out the details early on: Often venues will get more expensive the closer you book them to your event date. Book venues, entertainment, etc. early on to avoid these heightened costs.
  • Use digital methods of communication: Printing out invitations, updates, etc. can be costly, and you can often find great digital methods of communicating with attendees such as Evite or Paperless Post.
  • Food and drink costs: Rather than host a full dinner, stick with appetizers and avoid catering costs. You can cut down on bar costs by featuring a few signature drinks rather than a full bar menu.
  • Chairs and tables: If you opt out of a full sit down meal, you can also avoid the cost of tables and chairs. Stick to a standing event with a few centerpiece tables with appetizers.
  • Learn to negotiate: Although some costs will  be fixed, you will often be able to negotiate down some prices, particularly if you buy in bulk.
  • Find sponsors: If you event is surrounding a particular cause, you may be able to find sponsors to work in partnership with you and cover some of the costs of your event.  
  • Find volunteers: Finding even a small group of unpaid volunteers to work your event can help cut costs tremendously. When you have to pay employees hour wages, the costs can really add up.
  • Entertainment: Do you have someone within your organization that could perform, speak, etc. for no additional cost? Can you find a local band or performer that charges less than a big name? Looking for more cost effective entertainment doesn’t mean sacrificing quality.
  • Ticket price options: Rather than pricing tickets at the same point, create different price points and packages that offer different features to your event, such as a VIP package.
  • Don’t cut the budget too much: While it is tempting to cut down costs anywhere you can, remember that cutting you costs too much can cause more stress around the event, and make for an unsuccessful evening. Cut costs where you can, but remember that if you plan a great event, it is money well spent.