Simple cost-saving tips for your nonprofit's next fundraising event

Katie Austin Katie Austin

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 yet simple ways you and your team can save on event costs, while simultaneously inspiring event donors to support your mission. 

Here are a few cost-saving measures to consider for your next fundraising event. Several of these tips will garner immediate cost savings, while others will provide long-term savings that you will reap on future events. 

#1 – 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. Brainstorm unique centerpieces that can be produced at a lower cost and creatively support your organization’s brand. Also think about how the centerpieces can be repurposed to benefit your organization once the event is over. For example:

Fill vessels with items related to your brand or event theme. Let’s say you’re a nonprofit tennis and education organization. You could fill large vases with tennis balls that can later be used by students during tennis practice.

DIY your centerpieces. Incorporate LED lights or faux flowers that can be reused at another event. Examples of other recyclable materials could include beads or stones, feathers, fabric such as tulle or burlap, or battery-operated candles.

Display picture frames. Fill several frames with images and photographs that show the direct impact your organization has made. This will keep your mission at the forefront of the event.

Create an edible centerpiece. If food will be served at your event, let the centerpiece be the starter course or dessert. An edible display such as a cheese platter or cupcake tree can add a practical yet memorable touch to your table.

Design centerpieces that generate more donations. Have your centerpieces available for purchase or auction at the event. If you choose to do this, include donate cards at each place setting so guests can make their bids.

#2 – Re-Think Your Printing Options

The printing of event programs and signage can be a considerable expense, especially for smaller organizations and larger fundraising events. Here are some easy ways to save on printed items for your next event:

Create signage that can be repurposed for future events. If you’re hosting multiple events a year, you may benefit from creating signage that is specific to your brand, rather than specific to each event. The upfront costs to produce high-quality, durable signage may not save money initially – but it will allow you to reuse the signs and gain long-term cost savings.

Choose lightweight signage. It can reduce shipping costs from your production vendor and can also be more easily stored. Additionally, lighter-weight signage will help reduce your costs if you need to ship or travel with signage 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.) will only have a shelf life of a few hours, resulting in a lot of wasted paper and ink once your event is over. Digital displays can be easily updated and reused. Instead of a printed event program, you can display your stories, sponsor lists, and ads in a slideshow during the event.

Utilize the architecture of your event space. For example, use window clings or gobos on walls to enhance the space and create some extra ambience without a lot of extra work.


#3 – 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 of spending extra time and money developing a completely new look or concept for your event, leverage your existing brand. This will help cut down on your expenses and your schedule. Here are a few ways to do this:

Let your established brand inspire the event theme. Leverage your current brand, but slightly change the way it’s used. For example, if your primary brand color is red, use it along with another color from your secondary palette to create a festive or elegant look. You’ll have brand cohesiveness while also creating a unique style for your event.

Tell a story. Create an event theme based around a memorable story or series of photos that can build excitement and inspiration for 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.

Read about our work with Mouse on their 20th anniversary gala and how we used their existing brand and brand style guide to create a great look for the event.

Whatever event is up next for your organization, remember the above strategies when the planning begins. You’ll pleasantly maximize your budget without degrading the quality or integrity of the event.