Fundraiser Finances: Best Practices to Budget for a Charitable Event

Posted by North Oaks Golf Club on Oct 17, 2018 1:16:16 PM

Charitable EventCreating a budget for any event takes time and careful consideration, but budgeting for a charitable event can be even more complex. After all, if you're a nonprofit, you want all your raised funds to benefit your cause, not pay for event decorations. To help make smart decisions, here are some things to consider as you craft your event budget.

Identify Your Donations

One of the most important things to do is pinpoint your expected revenue. So, early on in the planning process, be sure to ask your core supporters how much you can expect them to donate toward your cause. It may seem odd asking someone how much money they plan to give you, but it will definitely help you develop a forecast of your end results.

Strategize Multiple Ways to Generate Revenue

At the outset, you want to plan your event in a way that allows you to raise money in multiple ways. For example, maybe you could sell baked goods in addition to hosting a silent auction. Other money-generating ideas include:

  • Selling advertising sales in event programs, banners, and signage
  • Tickets for raffles or door prizes
  • Food and beverage sales
  • Sponsorships of event participants
  • Table or group ticket sales

Pinpoint Expenses — Expected and Unexpected

Remember, you’re going to spend money putting on the actual event unless you can find sponsors to cover some of the costs. But, figuring out all of the expenses can be a headache. So, it’s important to plan out what you need for the event and how much you estimate it will cost. As you set out in your planning, be sure to ask your vendors about nonprofit pricing. Here are some expenses to expect from your event planning:

Rental Space

Unless a person or organization "donates" a rental space, expect to pay for it. Other than the rental fee, you can expect to see additional costs when it comes to permits, service fees, security, etc.

Food and Beverage

Then there’s the food and drink — two keys toward ensuring attendees have a great time. Will it be catered? Does the catering fee cover preparing and serving the food? Do you need a permit to sell alcohol? These are all things you’ll need to factor in as you figure out your budget.

Promotional Materials

Obviously, you need to spread the word so you can get potential donors to attend your fundraiser. Some promotional materials you’ll want to budget for include:

  • Save-the-date postcards
  • Posters
  • Invitations
  • Event programs
  • A website that provides information and allows attendees to purchase tickets


Decorating the event will also create expenses including any centerpieces, linens, signage, or banners. Find out if you have to rent tables and chairs or if they’re included with your facility rental fee.


If your event has scheduled speakers, performers, or even background music, you will likely need some production equipment. Additional costs may include:

  • Equipment: Lighting, microphones, and other sound equipment
  • Labor: Costs to set-up and tear down the event
  • Talent: Event entertainment, auctioneer
  • Additional staff costs: Those working the event and handling detail coordination from the office
  • Miscellaneous costs: Raffle prizes, awards, name tags, and t-shirts
  • Insurance: Liability insurance in case anyone gets injured

Keep a Detailed Record

Finally, be sure to record the actual expenses once you figure them out. If this is the first year you’re hosting the event, it’s quite possible you’ll break even. But knowing how much you spent will certainly help when you start planning for the next event!
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Topics: Weddings & Events

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