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How Much to Charge for Your Conference or Retreat

How Much to Charge for Your Conference or Retreat

How much is the right amount to charge for your next conference or retreat? Good question! 

I have recently seen conference and retreats that cost anywhere from $7.50 to over $2900 per person. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to determine how much is reasonable for your target audience and then to keep the ticket price and your spending within that amount.

When planning, consider the wisdom of Isaiah 55:2: "Why do you spend money for that which is not bread and your earnings for what does not satisfy? Listen diligently to Me and eat what is good and let yourself delight itself in the profuseness of spiritual joy."

Think of the "bread" as the literal food your guests will eat and the housing in which they will stay. The "satisfaction" would encompass the five retreat essentials:

  1. Prayer
  2. Worship/Music
  3. Scripture/Presentations
  4. Meaningful interaction
  5. Structured fun

The remaining cost would be publicity.

Create a budget worksheet factoring in the cost of these critical components:

  • Facility
  • Food
  • Program (includes worship team & speaker)
  • Workshops
  • Publicity
  • Decorations
  • Other

Projecting wisely is important: The last thing you need is to sponsor a conference or retreat and end up hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in the hole. If you find a retreat facility whose price includes food and lodging, just add $25 or $50 per person and cover all the other expenses with that money. Budget so you can live within that amount.

Every group handles retreat budgeting details differently:

  • Some groups pay the way of their committee members. If possible, this is a really nice idea, but not a necessity.
  • When the retreat speaker is from the host church, she typically donates her services, although most churches pay her expenses. If your group brings in a guest speaker, it is important that you pay her for her time and all of her expenses, including travel. While most groups budget $5-12 per attendee for this, I've seen groups make the speaker their #1 budget item, tagging $50 or more per person for the speaker.
  • Some groups hire in a worship leader or band; many recruit talented women from their own church to volunteer.
  • Most churches are willing to donate the use of their copy machine for retreat publicity and notebooks, if asked.
  • Many conference and retreat centers will give a financial break to church groups, if asked.

However you decide to proceed, and whatever services you can get for free or at reduced rates, the bottom line is that you want your income to cover your expenses. Figure it out carefully in advance and then to live within your budget.

Marnie Swedberg is the director of www.WomenSpeakers.com. She embodies faith-in-action while generating "aha" moments of perspective transformation through her keynotes, media appearances, 13 books and online programs. As the leadership mentor to over 15,000 leaders from 35 counties, she provides coaching, practical help and clear, God-centric focus.  Tune in to her #1 ranked and featured Blog Talk Radio Show. Invite Marnie to  share with your audience. www.Marnie.com

Resource: Christian Women Retreat Planner & Budget Worksheet

When we put together the exhaustive resource, Christian Women Retreat Planner & Budget Worksheet, we included an interactive budget worksheet. As you work through the handbook, you estimate how much each component of your retreat will cost and enter that into the worksheet. You then enter your estimated number of guests to determine the ticket price that you'd have to charge if you included all of those components. From there, you add or subtract expenses until your ticket price matches your audience's ability to pay.

After you run your budget estimates, if the needs of your group and their available finances don't jive, ask your church to sponsor a love offering, or host fundraisers to make up the difference.

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