So, you’re in charge of your organization’s next fundraising event. Anyone who’s planned an event before knows that if you’re not careful, your event can go from a fundraiser to fund-drainer in no time at all, so how can you find the perfect balance between cutting costs and throwing an event that becomes the trending topic at the water cooler for weeks to come?

Well, don’t get too overwhelmed. There are a few simple hacks that you can use to make sure that your ROI is as large as the smile on your guests’ faces.

1. Leverage software tools

These days, there really is a tool for everything. The basic rule is, if you’re doing anything manually more than once, you’re wasting your time. When it comes to saving time, technology is your best friend.

Some of the money saving benefits to using online software include:

  • Getting accurate RSVP’s,
  • Tracking ticket sales and revenue,
  • Cutting down on paper,
  • Convenience,
  • Getting quick feedback from event-goers.

So, why not take advantage of some of this software and save yourself some time and effort? There are far too many tools to list here but luckily, thanks to the internet, I don’t have to.

Is your organization a non-profit? If so, you should be taking advantage of Movement and this list of “31 Awesome Nonprofit Event Management Software Tools

2. Get Creative With the Venue

It’s not the room; it’s how you fill it! Finding an appropriate venue can be one of the hardest and most costly parts of throwing an event, but do you really need to go over the top with it? I would be willing to bet that your guests will be just as impressed by a room that you put a few extra minutes into bedazzling as they would with an extravagant ballroom. Dim the lights, put up some decorations and no one will even notice the extra money you saved… except your boss!

Just make sure your venue:

  • Has the capacity to host all of your guests;
  • Is easy to find and accessible;
  • Is a blank canvas with endless opportunities.

It’s also a good idea to confirm your venue as far in advance as possible to ensure you are getting the best deal.

3. How about Tuesday?

Is it absolutely necessary to host your event on a weekend? A lot of people think weekends are the best days to host an event but this can be a false assumption. People already have plans for the weekend, why not host your event on a weekday? Who’s busy on a Tuesday night, anyway?

Avoiding the high-demand time slots is an easy way to save money on things like venue, entertainment, catering, speakers, etc.

4. Don’t Be Specific With Your Promotional Materials

Leave dates and specific event/venue names off of your banners, posters, shirts, and giveaways. It may not save you any money initially, but by opening up the opportunity to reuse these materials, you can save a lot in the long-run.

Try talking to your marketing department or scrounging around for leftovers from previous events. This can take the pressure off of getting things made, and save you some valuable cash!

5. Volunteers

Time is money! Many hands make light work! Some other cliché idiom!

Ask around the office or reach out to family and friends! See if anyone is willing to lend a hand setting up your event. Labour is expensive, and if you can convince people to volunteer, you can shave a lot of expenses off of your event.

Put the word out there and you could be surprised by the response. You’ll never know if you don’t ask!

6. Are you sponsored?

Do you have sponsors lined up for your event? Companies are happy to front some of the costs for your event in exchange for valuable marketing exposure. Even more so if it’s for a good cause.

So reach out, ask around, and see if you can deflect some of the cost and possibly help promote your event.

7. Beg, Borrow, Steal (Maybe Don’t Steal…)

If there is one common theme amongst many of these suggestions, it would boil down to this: be resourceful!

Talk to your venue, vendors, and staff to negotiate costs as much as you can. It never hurts to try and haggle a little bit. Maybe you can offer them something other than money, such as discounts on your product or services. This can not only save you money in the short-run but build valuable relationships for the future.

You can also try speaking to your vendor about using some of their equipment. A lot of times you will find that they will let you use their microphones, PA system, podiums, whiteboards, etc. They don’t always offer so make sure you inquire.

8. Be Transparent About Your Budget

People will generally try to be pretty accommodating when they know the facts. Tell them what you’re willing to spend and be honest about it. It’s always difficult for a business to turn down a sale so you might be surprised at the result. Also, you may be able to come to a compromise and still end up getting what you really needed for the price you were willing to spend.

9. Shop Around

Never make a purchase without shopping around for the best alternative. This comes down to doing your due diligence and researching your options.

Try looking for small local businesses to fulfill your catering, entertainment, or keynote needs. These types of businesses are generally more open to negotiations and will work with you to cater directly to you and your event.

10. Keep Track Of ALL Your Expenses

The little things add up! Make sure you pay close attention to where your budget is being allocated. Small purchases can turn into big costs if you aren’t careful. Just because those napkins cost you $5 at the dollar store, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make note of it.

When you’re in the budgeting stage, make sure to be as attentive to detail as possible. Don’t leave anything out and pay attention to the hidden fees and additional costs. It’s also a good idea to leave yourself a bit of a buffer in your budget as a contingency plan.

With some careful attention to detail, you can avoid a stroke-inducing invoice after all is said and done.

11. Collaborate

Do you have a good relationship with any other businesses in your area? You might be able to take advantage of that by planning your event to take place directly before or after yours. Or maybe consider co-hosting the event. After all, the more the merrier, right?

This way, you can work together and share the venue, vendor, entertainment, equipment, and promotional costs. Also, you can also create networking opportunities and make some friends!

*Bonus for non-profits!

Is your organization a non-profit, charity, change-maker, or community builder? If so, take advantage and join the Movement!

The key takeaway from this post is: be creative! There are hundreds of ways you can cut back spending on your fundraising event. If the goal is to raise money, it probably helps to spend as little as possible to begin with.

Just make sure that the places where you are cutting back don’t take away from the quality or integrity of your event. Other than that, pinch some pennies, cut some corners, pull in some favours, and turn your fundraiser into a frugal success!

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