The 6 "must ask" venue questions for NPO events

The other week we featured our first guest post in NPO best practices from our friends at the very awesome Philanthro Productions. It covered general tips for getting started with excellent fundraiser events. The second installment in the series focuses on a specific question: What are the key questions any NPO eventholder should ask partner venues?

As you begin to plan your event and start the search for venues and vendors to work with, always keep in mind that the main goal of the event is to raise money for a great cause while also providing a good time for attendees. Your choice in vendors therefore should focus on minimizing expenses, while maximizing fundraising dollars and attendee enjoyment.

Here are 6 “must ask” questions for potential partner venues and vendors:

1) Do they offer special rates for non-profits? Many venues and vendors offer discounted rates for organizations with 501(c)3 status. Come armed with a passion for your cause and information about where the money raised will go. Ask them to talk with their tax advisors about potential tax benefits of donating space, products or services.

2) Are there certain days of the week that space/services will cost less than others? For venues in particular, many will reduce rental costs for “slower,” non-weekend days.

3) Emphasize that your event will be driving incremental business and foot traffic to them. It is definitely an advantage if you can be flexible about the date of your event.

4) Are they willing to donate space or product in exchange for free advertising space in your marketing materials? Ad space on flyers, emails, social media outlets, etc, can be an attractive bargaining tool depending on the audience and credibility of your organization.

5) Can the venue waive certain costs on services such as the DJ, Security, cleanup, etc? Some vendors will be flexible on these elements for nonprofits, and it never hurts to ask.

6) For venues, are they willing to give a percentage of the bar and/or food tab back to the nonprofit? Again, considering that your event will be bringing in business that otherwise would not be there, make your case and ask if they’ll donate a percentage of money made for the night.

Remember that every dollar spent on event production is a dollar less that you’ll be able to put towards your cause. Spend it wisely! Any vendor worth partnering with will make special exceptions for a good cause, and in the end, you’ll know that you did your best to make every dollar count.

Thanks again to Philanthro Productions! Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter, and take a look at the compelling NPO event figures in their 2009 Annual Report.