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Gala events can be costly for a nonprofit organization to execute well. But the good news is they don’t have to break your budget. There are creative ways to save on event costs and inspire event donors to support your mission.
Here are a collection of cost-saving ideas to consider for your next Gala. Several of these tips will garner immediate cost savings. Others will provide long-term savings that you will reap on future events.
Create Non-Traditional Table Centerpieces
Quite often, floral arrangements are the centerpiece of choice at fundraisers. Not only are flowers costly, but they’re unfortunately not reusable. Don't hesitate to get creative with your centerpieces. It's time to brainstorm and think about something unique and reusable for your tables.
The following are some ideas to get you thinking.
Fill vessels with items related to your brand or event theme.
Let’s say you’re a nonprofit tennis and education organization. Fill a large vase with tennis balls. Both the vase and the tennis balls can be used again by you or your attendees if you choose.
LED flower centerpieces and light designs created a beautiful presentation that was so on brand for Mouse's 20th anniversary gala.
DIY your centerpieces.
Incorporate LED lights or faux flowers. These can definitely are useful for future events.
Display picture frames.
Fill several frames with pictures that showcase your organization's impact. This will keep your mission at the forefront of the event.
Create an edible centerpiece.
Let the centerpiece be the starter course or dessert. An edible display like a cupcake tree can add a practical yet memorable touch to your table.
Design centerpieces that generate more donations.
Have your centerpieces available for sale or auction at the event. If you choose to do this, include donate cards at each place setting so guests can make their bids.
Re-Think Your Printing Options
The printing of event programs and signage can be a considerable expense. Here are some easy ways to save on printed items for your next event.
Create signage that can be use in future events.
Do you host many events a year? Create signage that is specific to your brand, rather than specific to each event. The upfront costs to produce high-quality, durable signage won't save money at first. Over time, the savings and long-term value will come through continued reuse.
Choose lightweight signage.
Lighter-weight signage reduces your costs to ship or travel with to your event space.
Consider non-printed options, like a digital slideshow.
Not only is digital signage cost-effective, but it’s also environmentally friendly. Printed materials with specific event info (such as date, time, location, etc.) are one time use only. This wastes a lot of paper and ink once your event is over. Digital displays are easily updated and reused. Consider displaying your stories, sponsor lists, and ads in a slideshow on a monitor or projector.
Take advantage of the architecture of your event space.
Use window clings or gobos on walls to enhance the space and create some extra ambience without a lot of extra work.
Leverage Your Existing Brand
Developing a unique theme and brand for your event can use up a significant amount of your budget. It can also add days or weeks to your critical timeline. Instead consider leveraging your existing brand. This will help cut down on your expenses and your schedule. Here are a few ways to do this:
The Mouse 20th Anniversary Gala logo and brand was a direct extension of the core brand styles.
Let your established brand inspire the event theme.
Leverage your current brand, but don't be afraid to extend the way it’s used. For example, explore using colors from your Brand palate in slightly different ways. If your primary brand color is red, use it along with a secondary color to help change the look up a bit. You’ll have brand cohesiveness while also creating a unique style for your event.
We call this Brand Extension. It is often more cost effective to be creative and resourceful with your current brand styles than to design something new.
Tell a story.
Using assets you may already have, create an event theme based around a memorable story. Use a series of photos to showcase your organization and its mission.
Use your organization’s existing fonts.
Don’t reinvent the wheel when it comes to font usage for your event. Choose fonts from your existing library so you don’t have to purchase licenses for new fonts.
Galas for the Small but Mighty Budget
Read more about our work with Mouse on their 20th anniversary gala and how we used their existing brand to create a great look for their event.
We hope the above inspires some creative and resourceful event planning for you and your team. Great event design doesn't have to cost a fortune.
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Minds On Design Lab is a strategic design studio with digital expertise. We’re passionate about elevating small and mighty teams in the social sector. We connect people to mission through beautifully designed branding, web, and print.