Dinners are expensive and no one wants to lose money on a fundraising dinner. Charging for a dinner can seem like a great idea - whether guests buy individual tickets or a partner covers the cost of a table, your expenses are covered. All extra gifts can be used by the ministry. But there is a better way and it has a greater potential to bring larger gifts for your ministry.
But there is a better way than charging guests and it has a greater potential to bring larger gifts for your ministry
Dinners are more than fundraisers; they are opportunities to expose new people to your ministry and to express appreciation to current partners. You want as many people as possible to come to a dinner, but tickets can actually limit guests. A complimentary dinner offers an easier way for partners to invite others. Increased attendance leads to increased giving, so make it easy for your hosts to invite friends.
Successful dinners depend on partners serving as table hosts. You are asking partners to invite friends who might have a heart for your ministry. Hosts are freed to ask friends to join them for a complimentary meal. They are partnering with you to spread the word about a ministry which they believe to be impacting people for Christ. They know you offer a high quality meal and program that will be appealing to their guest, yet they also anticipate an appeal at the close of the program.
Additionally, tickets have been shown to lower giving totals. Partners with capacity are underchallenged by the ticket/table strategies. In buying a table or ticket, they have already “made” a contribution, and are less likely to respond to the final appeal. By keeping the dinner complimentary, the full focus remains on the appeal and gifts usually far exceed a set “ticket/table cost.”
Finally, there is a little known IRS rule that requires anyone who sells tickets or tables to declare the value of those meals on the next tax return and deduct that amount from any gift given that evening. See Cru Policies and Procedures for events. With our current complementary model, all gifts are 100% tax deductible.
Make sure your event is completely free to attend so your partners are completely free to give - it's that simple!