Seeing Green: Ways To Accept Payment for Your Event

Accepting payment is an important, but often confusing, part of arranging an event.  Let’s look at three of your options, and you can decide what would be best for you and your clients.

  1. Accepting cash or check, in person.  Receiving cash or check from an attender is nice, because you don’t have to pay any transaction fees.  You do need to plan ahead and make sure you can keep their money secure and accounted for.  That would mean you don’t stuff their cash into your wallet or purse and decide you’ll “try to remember” to write that amount down and who it came from later.Whether its an envelope, a zip-up deposit bag or a cash box, be sure you have a way to keep money given to you separate and secure.  Secondly, write down the amount of money given to you and who it is from.  You can purchase a receipt book or simply record each transaction on a legal pad.
  2. Taking credit card payments, in person.  I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but many people no longer carry cash. CNN Money reports that 43% of Americans go a week or more at a time without paying cash for anything.  Accepting credit card payments can help you take payment from all of your clients.If you have a smart phone, or iPad, you can use an app like Square or PayPal Here to take credit card payments.  You’ll need to download the app, go through a set up process and wait a few days to receive the free card reader in the mail.  The card reader plugs directly into your device, and you’re ready to swipe away.  Square charges 2.75% per transaction, Paypal Here 2.7% per transaction, and neither have monthly or annual fees.  Money received is available the next day in your account. These services need a data plan or reliable wi-fi connection to work, and can provide a receipt via email to your customers.
  3. Online payments.  One of the clear benefits of accepting online payments is  convenience for your customer.  It might be difficult to get all of your event attenders in one room and accept payment from each of them.  However, if you send out an invoice via email, and they can pay with the click of a button … you see the advantage.  Again, you have lots of options, but Paypal is a simple and cost-effective option.  Set up an account, send invoices via email, and accept payment for a per-transaction fee.

I’ve focused on services that fit for people who will be taking payments from a group once or twice a year.  Think about your options, and make a plan.  All of these choices need a bit of lead time to set up and utilize.  Don’t wait until the last day of your event and then try to begin taking payments from people.  Event organizers agree that taking payment before an event is much preferred than trying to track people down after it is over.

Help! How Do I Do This?

At Ridgecrest and Glorieta we are privileged to host hundreds of groups each year. While most of the larger events are planned by experienced meeting planners, many of the smaller events are not. Typically they are planned by a lay person who volunteers. Or, in some cases, makes the mistake of leaving the room at the wrong time! Has that ever happened to you?

Either way, the person charged with planning the event doesn’t have much experience and that can be pretty intimidating. Here at MinistryServingMinistry, our desire is to try and help relieve a little of that stress.

With that in mind, I asked two of our event coordinators at Ridgecrest (Lindsay and Stephanie) to share with us five tips for the first time meeting planner. Here’s what they had to say:

  • Do a site visit – If at all possible, go visit the place where you will be holding your event or retreat. There is simply no substitute for actually walking the ground where you’ll be meeting. This one thing will go a long way in eliminating much of the stress for a first time planner.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected – A pretty good rule of thumb for just about any event is that not everything will go exactly as planned. What happens if it rains/snows? What if something happens to one of your speakers? Just a couple of the questions you need to think about during your planning.
  • Know your attendees and their expectations – Remember, you’re not planning this event/retreat for you. It’s for those you want to attend. Make sure you have a good idea of what they need and expect to come away with.
  • Give yourself plenty of time to plan the event/retreat – Too often first time planners will underestimate the time it takes to plan a successful event/retreat. We suggest at least 6-12 months.
  • Utilize the property’s event coordinator – They are the professionals. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help!

Would love to get some additional help from our readers. What tips would you give a first time retreat planner?