In this blog I share my top tips for organising a charity event! Be it a film nights, launch events, quiz nights to an evening of talks.
I’ve raised thousands of £ for charity over the years through my various adventures. While I often ask for sponsorship, I’ve found that organising a charity event is the most effective way to reach a fundraising target fast. My most successful example to date was a quiz night which made a profit of over £3000.
You might also want to check out my other fundraising blogs:
- 8 easy fundraising ideas to smash your charity target
- Raffle prize ideas & how to get companies to donate them
- How to get people to sponsor you
- How to do a press release
Charity event ideas
Step one is working out what you are going to do. There are lots of different events you can put on to raise money for charity. Including:
- talk night (getting people to deliver talks on a theme)
- dinner and dance
- picnic and games
- race or sports day
Go for something that excites you and that you would attend yourself. It’s much easier to put the time into organising something when you are looking forward to it yourself.
You also need to decide if you want to keep the event small and personal – just inviting friends and family – or if you want to open it up to the public.
Something like a quiz works really well if you can ask friends to put a team up made with their colleagues or connections. That way you are reaching beyond just your own network.
Try and be ambitious with whatever you decide and aim a little bit higher than you feel confident doing. Basically my moto for life!
Get organised early on
Put a plan together for your event. I always have a 2 pronged list.
The first listing the essentials – the absolute basics needed to put on the event. So things like finding a venue and selling tickets. These are the tasks that you want to prioritise first before anything else.
I then create a list of the extras and additions which I can add if I have time. These are the small touches like decorations or creative table names. This might also include things like adding a raffle or throwing in a surprise like having a celebrity appearance.
Keep your charity event costs down
To make your event as profitable as possible you want to try and keep your costs as low as you can. The best way to do this is by getting sponsorship in kind. Think about everything you need for your event to happen…..like a venue, DJ, food, a bouncy castle or decorations. Now try and find companies that might be willing to donate these as it’s for a good cause.
It’s just a case of writing an email saying what you are doing and what you are asking for and then contacting relevant places. You will likely get lots of rejections (or ignored emails) so keep sending.
It is best to use contacts first (or contacts of contacts – asking friends or family if they know anyone who could help) and then to find local providers or any company that might have a connection with the charity.
In your email asking for help try to keep it personal. If there’s a personal reason you are fundraising for the charity then include this as it’s much harder for buisnesses and companies to say no to this.
Things that I’ve had donated for events before include:
- raffle prizes
- table decorations
- printed T-shirts
- a hire car (I needed to drive around collecting food)
- lighting & PA systems
Increasing the amount you make
When organising a charity event you will want to aim for the highest profit margin possible. Because it all comes down to making money!
There are lots of different ways you can make money from the event. Selling tickets to attend is an obvious one. If you can get your venue and entertainment for free then your sales will all be profit.
But try and think beyond just ticket sales so you are also bringing in money in other ways. This works great alongside ticket sales as the participants pay for the ticket in advance and by the time the event comes are ready to put their hands in their pockets again!
You could set up a bar taking the profits or run a raffle or auction. Or convince a caricaturist to come for free for the evening and to sell pictures for £5…..Or maybe even a palm reader.
How about a tattoo aritst to give away small tattoos for a reduced price. Ok….maybe this is too far but something quirky and different like this might really get people engaged and willing to donate.
Check out these related blogs:
Raffle prize ideas 2019 & how to get companies to donate
How to sell tickets for your charity event
Often the hardest part of an event is getting people there. This is certainly where I get most nervous!
As soon as your venue and date are confirmed, contact your friends and family and ask them if they will come. Tell them that it would be great if they could also try and get a couple of their friends to come along too. This is the easiest way to sell tickets.
Once you’ve tried friends and family, approach your colleagues and keep posting regularly on social media to remind people they need to get tickets. Look for local places that might be willing to advertise the event. This could be…
….the venue where the event is taking place
…..in a paper or online newspaper (check out How to do a press release for tips on getting into the press)
…..on the radio
…..at the local shop noticeboard
…..the school noticeboard
…..a gym newsletter
Ask the charity you are fundraising for if they would send out details in their newsletter. You can also do the same for any company who has donated a prize or service.
Another idea is to encourage group bookings. If an event costs £20 to attend, you could say that you’ll reduce to £15 a ticket if booked in a group of 6. This is a great way to increase numbers on the night and will encourage people to rope in their friends and family. It will give your numbers a boost!
What if you don’t reach numbers?
Try not to panic! Worse case scenario you need to cancel the event and refund people – this happens all the time and isn’t as disatrous as it may feel at the time.
Before rushing into that see if you can make up numbers in other ways. If your event is ticketed this may mean giving away free tickets. You could contact a local gym, ameture dramatics group or business and explain that you are short on numbers for your event and would like to gift them 10 free spaces on the night….it’s a great team building opportunity!
Ask the charity if they have Patrons or benefactors that they could give free tickets to.
Although it may mean making less money from ticket sales, it’s better that the event goes ahead and makes some money. Plus most likely these people will be giving extra on the night in other ways. If they feel like they are getting a free ticket they’ll probably be more generous in the raffle!
A bit of advice for event day
- I always have a printed out schedule for the event with what I need to do at which time. This makes the whole process go more smoothly and means I don’t forget anything
- starting setting up sooner than you think
- have someone helping you who can take your phone and answer calls so you can focus on managing everything
- remember to thank companies at the event who have donated services or prizes
- eat and drink….it can be easy to forget to do this when you are event organiser!
Pull on the heartstrings
At the event itself make sure you pull on peoples heart strings.
Stand up and introduce yourself and say why you are fundraising. Talk about the charity and why it’s important they raise money. Showing a video. Or even better, can someone from the charity or someone who has benefited from the charity get invovled.
Say you are raising money for a dance hall for children. If the children came and gave a performance at the end of the night then afterwards went through the crowd with a bucket asking for final donations…..think how much extra money you would squeeze out of everyone. No one can say no to that!
After the fundraising event
After the dust has settled following the event it’s important to send out thank you emails. Firstly to your attendees Then to the venue and to companies who donated. Include how much you managed to raise.
It can be easy to forget this once your project is over and the event is behind you. But it’s important to appreciate those who helped. You never know when you might need their support again in the future!
Organising a fundraising event
Hopefully, my tips for organising a charity event has given you some pointers to get you started. If you have any questions just ask in the comments box below! Please do also share what event you are organising as it might inspire others.
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