6-8 Hours


Take a moment to ask the Lord to give you, your team and your volunteers strength to persevere in and through the minuscule details.


1-2 months out,

4-8 weeks out


Joshua 6:15



Read Joshua 6:15 - “On the seventh day they rose early, at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times.” You are entering a time of details and sometimes you can get lost in the details. Take a moment to think through the people you have locked arms with and for whom you are marching together. These are the people who are in “the battle” with you. Make sure you’ve delegated well, as well as taken on the tasks that need to be done.


From here on out, the details that you will encounter may get overwhelming. But all details are very important. Make sure to take these on one step at a time and you will get through them.






Delegate this task to a creative person (preferably a volunteer). Don’t spend more than $15 per table and don’t get bogged down in the details. Remember: centerpieces are important, but not something that needs to take up a whole lot of your planning time. You can try to use your centerpiece to represent your ministry or “theme” for the dinner. Click here for some Centerpiece Ideas.


A/V Equipment


Don’t use the hotel for your A/V needs. It can be a terrible experience let alone cost you significantly more money than other viable options. Try asking a local church to borrow a quality portable a/v system (speakers, mixer, projector, screens, etc.). Try to get a projector with no less than 5,000 Lumens. The best screen is a 9 x 12 fast-fold with dress-kit. For example Screen Suggestion. Pipe and draping for the stage is nice but optional. You may also need a tech to help you run the system.




Confirm your speaker. Check to make sure the flight, hotel and transportation are booked - ensure that they have given themselves significant “back-up” time should their flight be cancelled or greatly delayed. It is helpful to arrange for a liaison to connect with your speaker. Ask your speaker if he/she is willing to call and thank major financial partners (explained in the Winner’s Circle) the day after your event. Go through the Speaker Confirmation Checklist to make sure you have all the details covered.



See BEO - Country Club and BEO - Cru Vision Dinner


Most hotels require a minimum guaranteed attendance 48-72 hours before the dinner. To develop your guarantee of meals, take the # of people registered and subtract 12% for your final number (assuming the hotel oversets by 3%). This number is the minimum number of meals you are committing to pay for no matter how many actually attend. From this number you can still increase but you cannot decrease. Never tell the hotel how many guests are actually registered - they will panic as they don’t understand our formulas. 


You will be asking for some very specific service guidelines. Keep in mind when dealing with the hotel that they are concerned about the rules of good table service and not as much about our program. Make sure you (not the servers or people who eat slowly) are driving the evening's program. If it helps, you can explain to them that for every minute you go over on the program, you are statistically losing $1,000 in future donations based on over 2,000 dinners of data.


Questions to ask the venue (be sure to open the Sample BEOs before consulting this list):


  • How many rounds will be in the space? Are the tables 60” or 72” rounds? As a guideline 8-10 people can fit at a 60" round, 10-12 at a 72" round.

  • When is the minimum guarantee due? (this is what you are guaranteeing you will pay for) - you can always go up, you just can’t go down. Typical time is 48-72 hours.

  • How much extra food do they keep on hand in case of walk-ins?

  • Who is your day-of-event contact (usually the Banquet Captain)?

  • What is the earliest your team can arrive to help set up? 

  • What time will you be setting up the tables? We need to know so we can set up our A/V beforehand and put down and tape cords and also set up our centerpieces. What time will the tables be set with linens and silverware? 

  • By what time will salad and dessert be preset and water glasses pre-filled? (should be done at least 15 minutes before doors open) Make sure you have time to place your programs and other literature without getting in the way of their staff.

  • Who (usually hotel a/v) can teach a volunteer to learn the lighting system?

  • When will punch be served for the reception, how much punch will be served? (figure 40 guests/gallon -- don’t tell the hotel this figure as they plan for half this much and want to charge you for extra)


Things to Emphasize on the BEO


  • Give the hotel your Program Runsheet  (minute-by-minute) including the time things will happen and what you expect from hotel. Be sure to include setup and teardown.

  • Consider how you will move guests from reception to the ballroom. Do you need chimes to alert your guests that doors are opening?

  • Your total service time from fork to salad until the last server leaves the room should be no more than 45 minutes - don't let the hotel talk you into more or tell you they cannot do this.

  • This means salad plates should be cleared by person finished and not by table. When 50% of guests at a table are done with salad, entree service must begin –no more than 15 minutes from the start of the program (5 minutes for welcome and prayer and 10 minutes for eating the salads).

  • Dinner plates must begin to be cleared 5 minutes after the last entrée is served, no later than 15 minutes before the venue staff exits. Immediately after the last entree at the table is served, coffee and tea service must begin - one round of pours and then leave a coffee carafe and other if requested. Doing a station is not recommended as your guests will either miss it or be getting up interrupting the program

  • Table servers must be gone by the start of the program.- otherwise people will keep asking them for things and distracting from the program

  • Tables can be cleared after most guests have left and your team has taken all papers off the tables. (Some giving envelopes and ministry display materials have been lost in the process of clearing tables!). Have the Banquet Captain check with someone (designated beforehand) before they start.

  • An additional small room/private area with wi-fi access to count gifts after the program is needed (free of charge). This may take one to two hours depending on the size of your event and how well your counters are trained (If the venue cannot accommodate, you may need to move the counting to another location).


Things that should be listed:

  • Projection cart(s), Easels?

  • Napkin and tablecloth color

  • Table Number Stands or frames?

  • Free room for students/staff to change?

  • Reception and Ministry Table Locations


Suggestion here: take a field trip! Take your team and/or Check-In Desk/Registration Coordinator with you to your dinner’s venue and look around at the space. Ask if you can come at a time that they are set up for another event. Seeing it all in person can help you visualize tables, displays and registration/check-in.



  • Send electronic e-mail Save the Date through Ministry Sync (9 weeks out)

  • Mail Save the Date Postcards to zipcode computer select and people who have attended your dinner in the past (8 weeks out).

  • Volunteer Coordinator - Arrange a date and time for people to help address paper invitations for the computer select. 

  • Send electronic e-mail invitations through Ministry Sync (7 weeks out)

  • Mail Invitations to mass mailing list (6 weeks out)

  • Send confirmation letters or emails to all volunteers. See Confirmation Letters: Speaker Letter , Musician Letter, Pastor Letter (for opening/closing prayer), Student Testimony Letter, Donor Testimony Letter, Emcee Letter.  Include arrival time and key meeting times before the dinner. Email or mail edited Emcee Notes (from Lap 5) if you have not already done so. 

  • Prep for Registration – Check with your Registration Coordinator. 

  • If your dinner is greater than 150 attendees, strongly consider ordering MinistrySync Live Attendance. When ordering Live Attendance, you should not ever have to order extra iPads from MinistrySync. You can get someone to lend equipment to you for a few days.

  • Request honorariums or purchase gifts: Get gifts for: main speaker, emcee, key coordinators, singer/musician, A/V technician and student ushers/greeters (smaller gift - $5). Get gift cards at Costco ($80 for $100 worth of gift cards). Staff cannot be given gift cards. 

    • Speaker - Cover travel expenses and babysitting. Can we buy speaker’s books for door prizes? Make sure to think through an appropriate honorarium amount. Ask your coach about this. If you are Cru staff, request honorarium by Check Request Form.

    • Emcee ($50 gift card to local restaurant if non-Cru staff, consider dinner allotment for Cru staff – See Coordinator Gifts for Cru Staff)

    • Overall Dinner Coordinator (if volunteer- $100 gift card), Registration coordinator, Table Host Coordinator, Volunteer Coordinator ($50 gift card to local restaurant if non-Cru staff, consider dinner allotment for Cru staff – See Coordinator Gifts for Cru Staff)

    • Day-of-Event Contact or Banquet Captain - person from the venue who supervises the serving staff that night - should be tipped $50-$100 for dinners under 200 guests, $100-$150 for over 200.) If there is a bartender for the reception, that person should also be tipped $25-$50. If you are on Cru staff, money for the banquet captain and bartender tips need to come from an operating reimbursement from the dinner advance. Tips larger than $75 require a two staff-person signature receipt. Two Person Signature Receipt

  • Purchase and wrap door prizes and plan how you will distribute at the dinner: Door prize suggestions- cheap (good) books from Staff Store, go to local Christian bookstore and ask for bulk rates, main speaker’s book (if they have one), gift that goes along with evening’s theme, FSK piece, Soularium, Vistaprint (mugs or whatever you have with your local Cru-branded campus logo)

  • Submit your BEO to the venue – one month out



  • Wouldn't you save a lot of money if you just used the "house" sound system?

  • Are you sure that you will have a 12% no show/walk in rate -- your people don’t cancel?

©2019 Cru. These materials cannot be duplicated in any form without the permission of James W. Dempsey, with the exception of worksheets and forms. None of these materials should be used for profit.