During these difficult financial times, Non-profits struggle to meet an increased demand for their services while funding decreases. In honor of these essential community pillars, Vibrant Table has come up with a tip list to make your non-profit event dollars stretch further.
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Attracting an audience
- Research what else is happening in the community before setting a date. Portland Society Pages and Travel Portland offer comprehensive calendars on their sites. Ask your event planner friends to see if they know of any festivals or other happenings. Check the websites of any similar organizations and do a general internet search. You’re likely to conflict with something, but you can at least avoid conflicting with an event that will attract a large section of your target audience.
- Keep an open mind about your event format. It’s ok to stray from the “standard” to keep your event fresh and attract new and future donors. Consider, for example, an after-auction party with reduced entrance fees, fun music, and a couple of drink tickets to get a younger demographic.
- Entice registration with an attention-grabbing name that speaks to your audience, something like “Flash!”
- Use social media to promote your event. It’s best to have an audience already established, so maintain a social media presence even during slow seasons. For large events, you may even consider creating a unique account. Network, network, network. Social media is SOCIAL; reach out to anyone and everyone you think may be interested in your event and cross-promote other events to spread good-will.
- Add your event to Portland Society Page’s calendar. It’s FREE for non-profit organizations.
working with vendors
- Don’t be afraid to pay a little more for experienced vendors. In the long run, they will save you more and might even help you raise more!
- Hire a professional benefit auctioneer. They know how to work a crowd and will raise significantly more money than a staff member or volunteer.
- Realistically share your budget to encourage a more efficient planning process. If your vendors know what they have, they will do their best to find ways to make it work. Plus, they may suggest ways to reduce costs that you haven’t thought of.
- At meetings, be prepared to talk about what event elements are most important to your organization to help vendors identify the most appropriate cost-saving measures.
- Offer your vendors sponsorship or promotional opportunities in exchange for discounts, such as ad space in your program, features on your website, or a verbal thank you in the greeting or closing.
- Partner with vendors that have a strong social media presence. Ask them to promote your event. Provide them with all the necessary information (event dates, location, highlights,social media networks, hashtag, promotional images, logos etc.). The person you work with directly may not be the person managing the social media accounts.
choosing the Setting
- Select a venue that includes the most services with the rental of the facility. Do they provide tables and chairs, discounted audio-visual services, dance floors, etc?
- Ask about reduced rates for non-profit organizations.
- Choose your date wisely. Venues are more likely to provide a discount for a mid-week day and off-peak seasons.
Feeding your guests
- Limit your menu to reduce food costs. For example, serve your guests one entrée (with a vegetarian option) rather than two if providing a plated meal. For buffets, use smaller plates to reduce over-eating.
- Is a local bakery willing to donate desserts or offer them at discounted rates? Talk to your caterer to make sure this is ok first.
- Pass on the love. Ask your caterer about donating any left-over food to a local food bank.
- To lower bar costs, offer a signature cocktail with beer and wine or limit the number of hosted beverages with drink tickets.
- Contact local wineries and beverage distributors to see if they will donate their goods.
- Find venues and caterers that allow you to provide your own alcohol. Shop around for the lowest corkage fees.
Creating the look
- Lighting will have the most impact on mood. Invest in lighting even if you do little else.
- Select seasonal, local blooms and incorporate large focal flowers in simple ways. Consider floating dahlias in water-filled vases as a table centerpiece.
- Can auction items be incorporated into the table displays? Not only will you save on vase rentals, a hand-made bowl filled with beautiful flowers is more exciting to take home.
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Our Vibrant Community
Vibrant Table is honored to work with dozens of local organizations every year, including:
- Our House
- Basic Rights Oregon
- Three Rivers Conservancy
- Columbia Land Trust
- Oregon Humane Society
- Cascade Aids Project
- Salon Q
- Friends of the Children
- Oregon Ballet
- Pacific Northwest College of Art
- Northwest Academy
You Might Also Like
- To research event venues in the Portland Metro Area
- To find other event tips
- To learn about some of the vendors we’ve had the pleasure to work with
Thank you to the local event and wedding photographers who share their talent with us.
- Evrim Icoz Photography: Attracting an Audience, Working with Vendors, Adding Libations
- BMAC Studio: Choosing the Setting
- Breathing Pictures: Feeding Your Guests