Make These Key Decisions Before Spending a Dime on Your Next Event

Planning your next event involves lots of decisions and details.  It’s tempting to dive right in and start designing graphics, setting the date/time, and much more.  However, before you spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and hold way more meetings than you’d prefer, there are several key decisions you’ll need to make.  These decisions will guide your planning efforts for weeks and months to come, so it’s important to get these resolved up front.

Decision #1 – What’s the budget?  

First, you’ll need to work with your church’s Executive Pastor, Finance Director, Church Business Administrator, or the pastor/department leader responsible for this event.  Hopefully they included a budget for this event in the annual budgeting process.  If not, you may have to get the decision makers together to decide how to proceed.

  • Do they want you to gather estimates on what the event will cost?
  • Do they have a certain amount in-mind and you’ll have to make the event fit into that budget?

Whatever they decide, you need this information before creating a detailed plan since this will have a huge impact on all other decisions.

Decision #2 – Will we charge a fee?  

For an outreach, obviously not.  However, for a marriage retreat, ladies’ brunch, or other type of event you may decide to charge a registration fee.

If so, the next question is how much

You may need to gather cost estimates, divide that by the number of people you expect will attend, and use that as your starting point for a registration fee.  Refer to what you’ve charged at previous events since that’s set a precedent in the minds of your congregation.

Also consider whether you’ll offer a discounted price as an incentive to register by a certain date (early bird registration).

Ask for approval from the appropriate decision makers as soon as possible.  This will impact how you set up payments online, what you’ll communicate on print materials, etc. so this is a decision that should be made early in the planning process.

Decision #3 – Who’ll be on the event planning team?

The makeup of your team depends largely on how your church staff is structured.  If you have a church staff with a marketing director, finance director, etc., you’ll have natural candidates for those types of roles.  If not, you’ll need to consider which staff members or volunteers could succeed in each role.

Decision #4 –  Which ministry area/department is sponsoring this event?

  • Who is / are the key decision makers for this event?
  • What types of decisions do they need to weigh-in on and approve vs what can you or other team members decide on themselves?

Get agreement on these guidelines and document the answers to these questions.

Decision #5 – Is this a one-time deal or do you plan to host this event annually?

If this is an event you might hold each year, allocate time to create a central location to save all electronic files related to this event (graphics, planning documents, vendor contracts, etc.).  That way you can easily find and reuse / repurpose those next year.

Decision #6 – When do we want to host this event?

Consider what else your church and community has going on in the coming months.

  • What other events are occurring at your church (weddings, etc.) that would cause facility usage conflicts?
  • Are there any significant community events to avoid scheduling over?
  • Do you have any building maintenance scheduled (roof repairs, etc.) that could cause issues? 

Decision #7 – Where do we want to host this event?

  • Is this an event you want to and should host at your church facility?
  • Do you have enough parking and seats for the attendees you’re expecting?
  • For community outreaches, is your church easy to access for those who rely on public transportation?  If not, is there another church or venue better suited?

If you decide your church building isn’t the best venue for this event, start researching other venue options including their availability, cost, parking, access to public transportation, etc.

Decision #8 – How many people do we expect to attend?

If you’re hosting a marriage retreat, how many married couples attend your church?  Start with that number to estimate potential attendance.

If you’ve held this or a similar event before, what was the attendance for that event?  Has your congregation grown, remained about the same, or decreased since that event?  Adjust expectations accordingly.

If you’re hosting a community outreach,  how many people in your community need assistance (school supplies, Thanksgiving meals, winter coats, etc.)?  Contact local shelters and other nonprofits to gauge the need and to partner with them to spread the word about the event.

Decision #9 – How many volunteers will we need?

At this stage, you just need a high-level estimate.  Do you need 10 volunteers or 100?  Get a ballpark number.  The point of thinking through volunteer needs this early is this: Whether you have enough volunteers can make or break your event.

If you currently have about 50 consistent volunteers at weekend services but need twice that for this event, you’ve got some serious work to do and need to get started now.  Conversely, if you normally have 200 volunteers who alternate weekends and need about 150 for this event, that’s not a bad place to start.  I’d still advise you to start talking with key volunteer leaders as soon as you have a date solidified for the event, but you’re in a good place with that ratio.

Once you have these key decisions made, only then does it make sense to proceed with more detailed planning discussions.  These decisions provide your team with an agreed upon place to start.  The concept of “getting everyone on the same page” certainly applies here.

When you get these key decisions finalized up front, you’re ensuring that everyone from the senior pastor to a front-line volunteer is on the same page.  That can only help make your event more successful.

Once you’re ready to start meeting, you’ll want those meetings to be super productive.  Fill out the form below to get free event planning meeting templates:

Complete the form below to receive your free Event Planning Meeting Templates: