From time to time we receive a request from a Meetup group to pay for their venue. There are a few good reasons for this, and we’re happy to pay, but we have some guidelines that we follow and organizers are asked to do their due diligence when it comes to alternative solutions.
Check the Reasons and the Research
When we receive a request, the first thing we look for is the answers to why they left the previous venue (if there was one) and whether or not they asked the group as a whole for alternatives.
- If they outgrew the previous venue, then check attendance of their group on Meetup.com. Make sure they are doing the things we would expect to make outgrowing a venue reasonable (regular events, engaging with members, etc.).
- If this is their first venue (and perhaps first event at all), then email back to suggest trying out a low key and free venue while the group picks up speed. Exceptions include places that have experienced unusual challenges where we’re working to encourage activity and involvement, or when the lack of a formal venue space has cultural implications.
- If they have not emailed the group about venue options, then ask them to do that first.
- If they have emailed the group and there are no other options, then continue to the second round of checking!
Check the Venue
If the reasoning behind needing funds for a venue checks out, and the organizer did the necessary background work, then it’s time to check on the venue. We have the same expectations for Meetup venues as we do for WordCamp venues:
- easy to access both from a transportation and human mobility standpoint
- in a relatively safe area of town (this is based on local sentiment, not US-specific sentiment)
- has whatever tech requirements the group deemed necessary
- food/refreshments are not a requirement for Meetup event spaces. That’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have. 🙂
Note: You can ask the organizing team questions about it, do your own online research, or reach out directly to the venue. It’s your call.
If it all checks out, it’s time to check the pricing.
Check the Pricing
When at all possible, we want to group venue payments into as few payments as possible. Below are a few guidelines and some best practices:
- We aim for 3-5 USD per person. This is an average and doesn’t have to be exactly right for every single event.
- Try to work with the venue to get billed with events as units rather than months as units (charging per event gives organizers flexibility and doesn’t force anyone to lose money if a month has to be skipped)
- Ask for an invoice that includes multiple events/months rather than an invoice for each event.
- Ask for a 5-10% discount when paying in bulk (since it’s a guarantee of funds, most venues will be happy to work with you on this). If no discount is available, that’s okay. It never hurts to ask.
Submit for Payment
Submit the invoice for payment by sending the invoice and request for payment to firstname.lastname@example.org. If the venue is requesting proof of payment, then make a note of that in the email request for payment. A Deputy with access shall expedite payment through the WordCamp Central budget interface at Budget -> Vendor Payments. That’s it! You’ve made a community’s life happier and healthier. Good work!