Fundraising events are a great way to boost awareness of charities and the work they do, and encourage people to donate and support the cause – whatever it may be. As accountants, we want your fundraising event to attract crowds of supporters but we also want to help you make it a financial success. To ensure a smooth running of your next event, read our short guide on budgeting a charity fundraiser.

Start early

Early planning can incur huge savings – from the best shopping deals to having time to find the best quotes for major purchases. Equally important is putting together a rough first-cut budget to estimate whether your event is going to be feasible and to ensure it doesn’t break the bank.

First, make sure to work out your expected income from sponsorship and adjust your spending priorities accordingly. Not all will be relevant but you should consider the following in your budget: venue hire and technical equipment, fees for licences and permissions, decorations, prizes, food and refreshments, transport, administrative costs, publicity. In turn, consider the following to cover the costs: entrance fees, sponsorship, donations, raffles, selling refreshments, etc.

Is there anything you feel you may not deliver, or can something be replaced without ruining the overall experience? Scale back or think of creative ways to cut down costs. For instance, if you know a brilliant speaker well-suited to do a talk on the night, there is no need to invest in hiring TV screens to show a video.

Utilise community venues

Dark venue space for staging events - budgeting a charity fundraiser

The Space, community venue in Glasgow.

When budgeting a charity fundraiser, make the most of the spaces available around your community, and you will find that local sports halls, churches, schools or parks can serve as a great venue for your big (or small) event. Glasgow Life offers a handy venue finder tool you can use to search for a community venue in your local area. Hiring a community space can definitely help you cut costs.

For instance,  the Glasgow-based venue the Space operates on a ‘pay what you decide’ policy, and reinvests all revenue back into charity services.

Make sure to keep an eye on any additional costs that may incur as part of the venue. By using a space that is unlikely to have a contract with a catering or production company, you’ll have more flexibility to choose the options that best fit your budget.

Get multiple quotes from vendors

Try to get at least a couple quotes for anything from catering to entertainment so that you are aware of the general price range and avoid overspending. Some vendors may be open to negotiation so use your research as a tool for getting a better deal.

On a more practical note, adding quotes as they come into your budget will help to ensure you have an accurate record for reference.

Beautiful venue table setting - budgeting a charity fundraiser

Build on volunteer support

There are many enthusiastic people willing to support charitable causes – whether that’s at the early stages of planning and advertising or helping out on the day. Finding people who are passionate about your cause is one of the best ways to guarantee strong levels of commitment.

Also, consider arranging pro bono support from experienced individuals in specific fields (PR, design, photography) in addition to volunteer assistants helping you with the event delivery. Volunteer Development Scotland provides helpful resources for organisations on volunteer management as well as keeps a list of fundraising events in Scotland seeking for extra pair of hands.

Friendly volunteer support - budgeting a charity fundraiser

Learn and evaluate

Perhaps the best way to start planning an event is to look back at any similar activities in the past to avoid repeating the same mistakes. Look out for any documentation on what might have happened at events within your charity or speak to staff members who were there about the strengths and weaknesses of these events – did you over provide for guests or underestimate income? Equally, if you are in the planning stages of your first fundraising event, leave a trace of documentation behind for future use.

Finally, you should try to arrive at a fundraiser budget where:

Post-event evaluations can be especially useful for budgeting a charity fundraiser as it can answer questions such as: did you achieve the set fundraising goal? Where did your revenue come from? Did you meet your attendance goals for the event? Take the lessons from your past events and best of luck!

Our friendly accountants are here to guide you if you are looking for support. Click here to learn about the services we offer to our third sector clients, email us or call 0141 334 1318.


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