How to Choose a Venue for Your Next School Fundraiser
Fundraising can be a great way to connect with the students, parents, and teachers at your child’s school. But like any fundraising event, there are bound to be some challenges along the way.
Most important, yet usually the trickiest step is finding a venue. The venue will influence the number of guests who attend the event, and it will also play a large role in your budget.
So to help you find the perfect venue for hosting a fundraiser, no matter the theme or budget, consider these tips.
The Importance of Choosing the Right Venue
When planning a fundraiser, the location of the fundraiser venue is essential because it will affect the turnout—the number of guests who attend the event.
The proximity of the venue to guests’ homes and convenient transportation will be a deciding factor for many.
And while you will want to attract as many people as possible to the fundraiser, you’ll also want to maximize the amount of money you raise.
Where to Start
Decide Your Theme
What is the cause that you are fundraising for? Why you are raising money and who you are raising it for can help you set a theme and create a promotional strategy and plan of action.
The theme should also attract your target audience. Your guests will want a fun, entertaining event that they look forward to attending.
Set Your Budget
You will need to set a goal for how much money you want to raise. With this goal in mind, you can create a budget for the event.
To actually raise money for the cause, you will need to raise more money than what you spend putting together the event. So when creating a budget, make sure to include the costs of everything, such as:
- Venue hire fee
- Food and drink
And be sure to give your budget some extra room for unexpected costs that will likely arise.
Pinpoint Your Audience
Who is your target audience for the event? Is it a general audience—e.g., parents and teachers, or are you trying to attract specific or broader groups?
Depending on who your target audience is, you can appeal to their interests with a marketing and outreach plan. What would make the guests happy to fork out money? That is what you will need to figure out.
Create a List of Priorities
To get your venue priorities organized, create a list of requirements for your venue which only includes the ‘must-haves.’ Next, create a list of things you’d like to have in your venue but that aren’t necessities— ‘nice-to-haves.’ Lastly, create a list of things you might want but that you don’t necessarily need—the ‘can live without’ list.
Use your ‘must-haves’ list when searching for venues. And if you find a great venue with some of the ‘nice-to-haves’ that is within your budget, then don’t hold back. But don’t opt for venues that only have everything you don’t actually need.
Consider the following venue factors when deciding on where to host a fundraiser.
Capacity, Functionality, and Location
Before you start searching for venues, you will need to decide on the size of the venue that you would like. You’re better off picking a size that is a bit larger than your expected guest count than one that is too small, just in case you end up having more guests than anticipated.
You’ll need to consider the location of the venue as well. Ideally, you will choose a venue that is easily accessible for everyone so that more guests will be more likely to attend.
Also, figure out what’s included in the price of your venue—décor, catering, seating, staffing, photographers, etc.—and the type of equipment you’ll need at your fundraiser, like audio-video equipment. Put your requirements in a list so you’ll remember what to look for when researching venues.
It’s usually more cost-effective to find a venue with these capabilities instead of hiring an outside source.
The reputation of a venue will give you an idea of the quality of service you can expect. You can learn more about the venue’s reputation by:
- Reading reviews and testimonials online
- Looking at photos of the venue’s past events that are similar to your event
- Finding out the tenure of the conference manager, catering manager, or executive chef
- Determining how the venue’s management team treats its clients
Some venues have restrictions on décor and other aspects of events, so make sure you are aware of these restrictions before booking a space. Be sure to ask questions such as:
- Do you offer good parking options or valet?
- Do you offer security?
- Do you offer additional services like catering, floral arrangements, linen and table rentals, etc.?
- Do you have a setup and cleanup crew?
- Do you restrict what other vendors you work with?
- Do you have food and beverage minimums?
The price of the venue will depend on a number of factors including:
- The venue’s upfront hire fee
You don’t want a venue that is too expensive and over-budget, as the costs will dip into your fundraising efforts.
Tips to Help You Find the Right Venue
Follow Your Instincts
Your gut instincts will be able to help you find the right venue. So when visiting potential places, remember to listen to your gut. Are you able to envision having your event there? Are there any specific venues that you’re drawn to?
You will likely be able to make up your mind about a place within the first few moments of visiting.
Get All the Information
Before you visit a venue, make sure you have all the information about the place, and most importantly, a breakdown of the pricing, so you know what’s included in the price.
Then create a list of places that suit your criteria so you can plan a day of visiting venues. Don’t visit venues without establishing that they meet your criteria first as this can waste a lot of time.
Search online for local venues in your desired neighbourhood. Visit their websites and social media pages to get a better idea of the place.
You’ll want to search for places that look good, have the right size capacity for your estimated number of guests, along with any equipment you might need.
Schedule a Visit
Be sure to visit the venue before booking it, and ask for a tour of the venue, inside and out, including parking, bathrooms, entrance, and event space. A tour will help you decide if the venue is suitable for the event.
Scope out Different Locations
Shop around for different venues, asking the right questions so you know what to expect with each place. Look for venues that:
- Suit the theme of your event
- Are convenient for guests
- Are where your guests would prefer to attend
- Could increase the RSVP rate
Some venues might be willing to discount the price of the space if they want to contribute to helping the cause of your fundraiser. Also, consider being flexible with the date to help you find a venue at a lower cost.
Organizing a fundraiser can be a daunting task. But once you find the perfect venue, everything else will fall into place. So get your fundraising hat on and start the fun task of raising money for a good cause.