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How to Keep Costs Down When Organising a Charity Event


When it comes to organising a charity event much of what you do is dictated by budget. With charity events and seminars, it is all about maximising the amount of money that can go directly to the cause while running a great event. It goes without saying that you want the event to be fantastic and engage the attendees but you do not have the same spend as a corporate event.

The key with charity events is to maintain quality and ensure the event is well attended, but cut out all unnecessary costs to ensure the majority of the money reaches those who need it most. With a limited budget, you are forced to be more creative. This is something that can definitely work to your advantage. Good events are often those that do something different and take attendees by surprise.

Ultimately it’s about striking the right balance between increasing attendance and keeping costs down. In our guide we show you how you can run an amazing charity event on a budget.


Charity Events on a Budget


Plan a Detailed Budget



Image via Internet Archive Book on Flickr


Micro-managing your event budget is vitally important. Take an hour or two to brainstorm all possible outgoings related to your event and identify any hidden costs you may encounter and factor these in too. When you have as much information as possible, it makes sense to work out your event breakeven point. Knowing this point will give you a much better idea of how many tickets you need to sell in order to make a profit and can serve as a much needed reality check. Then as you continue to plan your event make detailed notes of every expense. Being meticulous with expenditure is essential. Once you are aware of all potential additional costs, you can then project expenses more accurately and ensure you come in under budget.


Choose the Right Charity Event Venue

charity event venue London

Image via State Library of New South Wales Flickr


When it comes to choosing a venue for your charity event be as open and flexible as possible. The more time you can give yourself to start researching and visiting potential venues the better. Early planning means that you can investigate all options and seek out the cheapest option that meets your needs. The later you leave it, the more expensive you will find it. Ask a range of venues about availability and cost. If you can share with them a few different dates you may discover a much more affordable option.

Always try and visit the venue in person and don’t be afraid to ask the venue directly if there is any way you can lower hire costs. Many event venues will have AV equipment and PA systems included in the cost of the room hire but it is worth double checking exactly what is covered. Be sure to check for any additional costs like paying for a technician.


Hold Your Charity Event At an Affordable Time


Vintage bobsleigh team

Image via Nationaal Archief Flickr


With many event venues, you will find that midweek events are cheapest by far. Depending on the type of event, consider using University venues. Many of them, like 20 Bedford Way’s Logan Hall, have excellent facilities, good availability (often at short notice) and are affordable, making them ideal for charity events.


Make the Most of Digital


Carrier Pigeon released

Image via Flickr


Save on printing costs by going digital. And yes that means keeping everything to do with your event online. Use social media to promote and publicise your event, increasing your online activity in the run up to the big day. Make full use of your existing contacts and networks to share your event and amplify any marketing message. Once this has been exhausted reach out to people that have a wide influence in your sector and ask them to share your event with their followers. Email lists and LinkedIn and Facebook groups can be utilised to communicate with attendees prior to the event – remember to send plenty of reminders without spamming. You will be amazed at how much money you save by cutting out printing. There are also a number of listings websites that will share details of your event on your behalf.



Make Full Use of Volunteers


Volunteers for budget charity events

Image via Miami University Libraries


There is a huge number of talented and enthusiastic people that are eager to share their time and skills with charities and not-for-profits. When it comes to event planning, you will also find people that are keen to get experience within the industry. There are websites like London Schmap that you can use to help source volunteers for London charity events.


Source Entertainment on a Budget


charity band for events

Image via Flickr


Minimise the number of third parties at your event, especially those requesting a fee. Ideally you will be able to find guest speakers and performers that are willing to donate their time for free. If this is not possible, then you need to be highly selective and consider the costs very carefully. When it comes to entertainment, a DJ or carefully selected playlist can be a cheap alternative to paying for a full band for example. There is also the opportunity to get a local band to play for free in return for exposure but it may be worth experiencing them first in the live setting to avoid any unpleasant surprises.


Make the Most of Sponsorship Opportunities


sponsorship for charity events

Image via The Library of Congress Flickr


Identifying suitable sponsors is vital to running a charity event on a budget. Many firms will have some budget set aside for CSR (corporate social responsibility) and will be happy to support an aspect of your event in return for some branding. Limited companies also get to pay less corporation tax when they donate money, provide sponsorship, and provides items it makes and sells. For more information visit the Gov.UK.  If you are not already aware of potential sponsors, then start with local businesses and those businesses relevant to your charity. If they are not able to contribute financially, they could provide donations for an auction (see below). Remember to thank anyone that contributed to your event, this includes sponsors, volunteers and attendees, and make an effort to maintain a relationship after the event is over.

The following websites can help you connect with potential corporate sponsors:

Business in the Community is an excellent resource https://www.bitc.org.uk


Run Additional Fundraising Activities


Charity auction

Image via Missouri State Archives Flickr


You want to maximise the amount of money going to your charity. There are a number of things you can do during the event to raise those extra pounds that can make all the difference. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:


–  Ticket sales – your primary source of revenue will be from ticket sales for the event.

–  Auctions – ask attendees and relevant businesses to provide lots for an auction. Present them online beforehand and allow   people to bid on the night in a live auction. Alternatively, you can do a silent auction instead which can work well for fundraising events.

–  Competitions – run competitions throughout the evening with various donated and small prizes up for grabs.

–  Sell/auction art works –  auction off or sell donated work by artists or doodles by famous people

–  Sell merchandise – sell various items of merchandise with funds going directly to your charity

–  Games & Quizzes – run a pub-style quiz, sell Bingo or Beetle Drive sheets to add an extra dimension to your event

–  Challenges – set tables various challenges with prizes for the winners but fines for the losers

–  Photographs – hire a professional photographer to take photographs of attendees at the event and charge them to have them taken and to order prints – a dressing up box can be a fun way to encourage participation

–  Not-for-profit gambling – sell chips to be used on roulette and blackjack tables. Chips aren’t cashed in but attendees can compete against their friends to see who can win the most chips.




The Directory of Social Change run courses for the voluntary sector in charity learning, helping you improve all aspects of your events – https://www.dsc.org.uk/events/


20 Bedford Way Charity Event Venue

20 Bedford Way has experience running events for charities and not-for-profits. This can be from charity conferences to fundraising events. We are able to offer standalone events, in evenings and weekends to help keep costs down.

For a central London events venue, we pride ourselves on being affordable and never compromising on quality. We live and die by the professionalism of our events team and look forward to working with you. Call today on 020 7612 6143.


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