So you’ve crunched the numbers (using this Event Pricing Guide) and you still need to bring down the cost of your event.
Maybe you can’t quite afford the speaker you feel God has led your team to hire.
Or perhaps the Holy Spirit is leading your team to decrease the ticket prices by $5.
It can be done, we’ve just got to get creative!
You may just need one of the ideas below or you may need to implement a couple.
Here are 12 creative ways to reduce the cost of your women’s ministry event:
1. Reduce your food costs.
You don’t have to have food. Really, you don’t. But if you’re afraid of a revolt, adjust the start and end time so you can serve breakfast instead of lunch. Instead of a meal, serve snacks or dessert. Cakes from Costco or Sam’s Club are incredibly tasty and cost far less than catering dessert. Your women may even be willing to donate the food you need.
2. Share the cost with another ministry in your church.
You may be able to partner with your Missions team, Youth ministry, or Music Ministry (if your speaker sings). Consider inviting the youth girls to the event or see if the Youth Pastor would like to host a Youth event with your speaker before or after your event. She may charge a slight bit more for a second speaking slot, but many Youth ministers will cover part of the greater costs in bringing her into town.
3. Slash your budget line for decorations to zero.
Use décor your church already owns or borrow décor – from another church or a church member. A Christian store might loan you some décor in exchange from some free publicity.
4. Add a meal, but charge more.
A meal adds value to an event. If your cost per person is $8 for the meal, increase the ticket price by $10 to help cover the rest of your event budget.
5. Ask your Pastor or the Finance Team for an increase in budgeted funds.
They may be aware of some funds in another pot that could be used for your event. Sometimes they are willing to move money from a ministry that’s going to be under budget for the year to yours. Often if you present this as a unique opportunity with the potential for outreach, Pastors will be willing to work with you. You don’t know they’ll say no, until you ask. You may be surprised!
6. Partner with another local church or other local churches in the area.
Market the event to other churches in the area as a Ladies Night Out. Many leaders are happy to take a breaking from hosting and planning to attend an event at another church. Seek out other churches that would be willing to co-host the event and contribute funds towards the expenses.
7. Partner with another local ministry.
Think about the ministries in your area – is there one that might be willing to partner with you to bring in a speaker for an event that their clients could also attend. A non-profit that works with trafficking victims might sponsor a related speaker.
8. If your dates are flexible, you may be able to book a speaker that’s already going to be speaking nearby.
If it’s just a matter of delaying her flight a couple of days, you may be able to avoid most, if not all, of her traveling expenses. She may also be willing to lower her speaking fee a bit.
9. Ask if your speaker’s fee is flexible.
Every speaker I personally know is willing to work with women’s ministry leaders to try to find a fee that works within their church budget. This is not the time to go looking for a deal, be respectful. If her fee is $250, don’t expect a $200 price decrease. If her fee is $3000, a $200 price decrease may be something she’s willing to take.
10. Seek out your bargain shoppers and coupon queens.
Give them the task of finding deals on door prizes or ask them to stuff the goodie bags for less than $2/person. (One year, by the grace of God and clearance bins, we were able to spend just $1/person on bags for a conference that included bottled water, chocolate, mint, Christian fictional book, Kleenex, and lotion.) Ask them to canvas the local thrift and Goodwill stores for serving trays and decor.
Fundraisers are often able to cover a significant portion of the cost of an event. Consider: silent auction, 50/50 raffle, yard sale, spaghetti dinner, hot dog luncheon, flower sales, or a bake sale. One church has had great success raffling baskets.
12. Offer Sponsorship Opportunities
Invite business owners in your church to sponsor your event. Assign amounts to a variety of sponsorship levels, each with their own benefits such as free advertising in the program, from the stage, on the tickets, etc.
Sometimes we don’t really need to adjust the cost at all.
We may just need to remind our women what a deal they are already getting. For example, for less than the cost of a concert ticket you’ll enjoy a great meal and an encouraging evening with well-known speaker and author “fill-in-the-blank”.
What other ideas do you have for keeping keeping down the cost of your women’s ministry event?
You may also want to read:
Gather and Glean: Speaker Search
How to Find a Speaker
Should you charge for your women’s ministry event?
What should you charge for your women’s ministry event?
Questions for Potential Speakers
One year ago: Great Commission Christian Women
Two years ago: How to Pick the Best Date for Your Women’s Ministry Event
Three years ago: A Code of Conduct for Small Groups
Four years ago: Reno Project #2: Your Mission Statement