Use events to promote your cause

As an event planning professional, I have seen all types of non-profit fundraisers. Some I have produced myself, and others I have helped organize for other groups.

There are many things to consider when putting together a non profit fundraising event. Sometimes you can control the situation, and sometimes you can’t.

Some of the biggest factors that add to the cost of events are:

Venue- Try to find an offbeat venue that is cheaper. Look for school district facilities such as a gym or hall, universities, and club halls tend to be less expensive than a hotel. A great source for finding a good venue is http://www.uniquevenues.com/

Catering- If you are having a fundraising meal, try to find cheaper alternatives for food. Meat is the most expensive thing that adds to the cost of catering. Choose cheaper options such as pasta or vegetarian dishes, or less meat oriented dishes such as spaghetti or lasagna. Steak and lobster aren’t necessary for a nice dinner. You can choose chicken instead. Here is a link to a great article, which supports this point.

Time of Day– Usually dinner is the most expensive time of day to rent a facility, and it’s also the most expensive to feed people at. If food is expected at the event, perhaps you should make it at an odd time of the day, in between meals. So you are only expected to serve light refreshments. Take the focus off the food, and put it into the actual event such as the 5K Run, or the Guest Speaker for the event.

Seek Donations– Often you can solicit donations of food to support your event from local bakeries, local farmers, local grocers and so on

Be Green– Not only is it great for the environment, but being green is a great way to save money as well. You don’t need to send out paper invites, use technology. Eventbrite and Evite are great sources to spread the word, (and you can use Social Media to send links) without the extra cost of postage and printing. Nowadays Evite and Eventbrite are linked to your social media accounts.

Scour OnlineEbay and Craigslist are great ways to find gently used tablecloths, vases and decor items. When I was planning my wedding in 2008, for example, I used Craigslist and found some great deals on tablecloths and vases. Then after the wedding, I recouped my money by selling them again!

Just remember, you don’t need a big budget to have a special event. Use your networking skills to get donations, and find things others may be willing to sell for a discount.

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