The venue you use for your charity event is important. It says a lot about you and what your event will be like. That's why you sometimes hear of locations booking years in advance.
So if it's so important, you know you need to do everything you can to pick a good spot.
But for today, I have listed out 10 things you should consider before ever putting down that venue deposit.
10 Things to Consider When Selecting a Charity Event Venue
While this list may not be exhaustive, it's a great place to start.
One: Show Me the Money! (Know Your Budget)
This one is probably the most important one on the list, but also one you probably already are aware of. So I won't say much, but I will say this:
Know your budget before you start looking at venues. And I mean know the specifics. If your budget is $1000 and you spend $900 on a venue (because that's in budget), you don't have much left over for everything else - and there is a lot else. So know everything you have to get and how much you are willing to spend on it. Then, pick your venue.
And if you need some more help deciding if a cost is justified, check out our free white paper that walks you through the steps.
Two: And the Verdict Is...(Look at Reviews)
A venue may look great on paper (and on the tour that you hopefully took), but could have a lot of problems the night of.
Maybe they've been known to have an unpaid electricity bill or two that's caused power outages during past events.
Maybe it's quiet during the day when you visited, but a cannon goes off every night at 8 in honor of some big history thing that happened.
Who knows what that maybe is? Well, the people who used the venue in the past do.
So read any type of review on the venue you can find. Ask people you know have used it what they thought. Do the leg work. You won't regret it. (But you might regret not doing it.)
Three: Size Up the Situation (Get the Right Attendance to Seats Ratio)
How many people do you expect (or hope will be) at your event?
How many people does the venue hold?
You want a good balance between these two numbers.
An overcrowded conference room, with people practically having to sit on each others laps, is just as weird and uninviting as a huge ballroom with 20 people in it.
You want your venue size to be big enough to fit all of your guests in a safe and comfortable manner without making the room feel empty and unattended.
Four: I Like Your Style (Think of Your Event and Your Venue's Style)
By nature, a fancy gala is not going to be right for the same venue used for good old-fashioned country barbecues (usually).
So keep your ideas for your event in mind when you are looking at venues.
- What's the style of your event?
- What's the ambiance like at the venue?
- What kind of events have traditionally been held in that venue?
- Would it look weird if you had your fancy ball there? Or your casual get together?
Five: Location, Location, Location (Location Matters)
You've probably heard that location is everything. It's true. And you need to think about this before you select a venue.
- How far away is it from where your guests are? (Think of a venue out in the boonies and how far away it is from the rest of humanity.)
- How good is cell service and WiFi?
- Is it right by a smelly plant or a noisy airport?
- Do people have to drive up a super steep cliff that will scare them out of their mind? (This is a consideration I know from personal experience - as a guest, not a host.)
Six: It's a Date! (When's Your Event?)
Here is a quiz for you:
Which is more important to you, the venue or the date?
The only wrong answer is to leave the question blank.
Some venues book up fast. And if you really want a specific venue, you may have to be flexible with when you'll have it. However, maybe you always hold your event on the third Friday of April or something, and it's important to keep up this tradition. Well, that's fine too, but you may not be able to get the event that you want - though in this case, you might have booked the venue way in advance, in which case, good for you!
Whichever situation applies to you, you should know going into the viewing process. Keep it in the forefront of your mind as you start looking at venues.
(And for additional help here, take a look at our "When Should You Host?" infographic.)
Seven: Yada, Yada, Yada (Ask All the Right Little Questions)
There are a lot of smaller considerations that have huge impacts on your event. So make sure you examine all of them.
Here are some examples:
- Can you combine services? For example, can you get the venue to cater from their own kitchen? Do they have valet services or do you need to (can/should you) do that yourself?
- Do they cover insurance and any necessary licensing fees or will you have to get them? (If you need to get them, do they know which specifically you'll need? Do they have names of 3rd party providers who have done past events held there?)
- What's the acoustics situation?
Eight: Driver, Follow that Car (What's the Transportation Situation?)
The traffic situation is a major consideration your guests will take into account when they are thinking about whether they should attend next time.
That means it is a major consideration you should be taking.
- Where will people park?
- Are there other transportation options to and from the event?
- Can you get your guests a discount through a company such as Uber or Lyft? (This is especially important if you will have alcohol at your event.)
- Are the directions easy to follow?
Nine: What's Going On? (List Everything You're Doing at Your Event)
Before you pick out a venue, you need to know general ideas about everything you will have happening.
- Will there be a dinner?
- Are you going to have speakers?
- Do you need AV?
- Is there going to be an auction? (Silent or live?)
Knowing this will help you when it comes to deciding on a layout.
When you look at the venue, look at it with an eye towards what you are planning. Where would you put things?
Make sure that everything fits in a sensical way.
Ten: A Good Rule of Thumb (Know Venue Policies)
Many venues have rules and policies.
Think of this:
You are planning an open bar, but you don't realize that there is a no-alcohol policy at your venue.
Or, you have 250 guests coming, and you think that is a good fit for the ballroom you rented, but they have a 200 person max.
There are a lot of scenarios I could give here. And none of them are great!
But to solve all of them, all you have to do is review the rules and policies before you book.
You've Got This
Now that you know how to pick a venue, you're on your way to a great event.
Have any more tips or advice? A story about that time you picked a perfect venue that you want to share with everyone else? A story about that time you picked the worst venue that you want to give as a cautionary tale? Just let us know in the comments or on social media.
And if you want more information about planning an amazing charity event, just download our free ebook!