Make Events Free
One potential problem in any youth ministry is loading the calendar with events that cost money. Even if it's 10 bucks here or 15 bucks there, after 12 months of those events it can add up. We never want students to miss out on youth ministry because they can't afford it. So my advice is to make every event you do (outside of mission trips and retreats) free. Students, and parents, love the word free. In 2 weeks we're having a bonfire/fall break party for our students and it will cost them nothing. We'll have all the fixings for s'mores, lots of other snacks, and drinks and they won't have to pay or bring any food with them. We've been able, over the years, to work this sort of thing into our budget because we believe in the importance of providing such events at no cost to our students.
I just looked at our calendar and we only have 3 events all year that have a cost attached to them: ice skating ($7), our spring retreat (about $80) and our mission trip ($400). This is not to say that we're awesome and that this is the only way to do events. On the contrary, this is what we do because it works well for us. You may have to charge nominal fees for events because you're budget simply cannot cover the costs for events (either due to a huge group or a small budget). But I would encourage you to think about the impact charging for events has on your students and their families.
What would it look like to cut the cost, or the event?
Could replacing an event that costs with one that doesn't accomplish the same goal?
How creative can you get with your budget money?
[This is part 4 in a series on 'How to Make a Yearly Ministry Calendar']