You’re raising money for a cause you’re extremely passionate about. You decide that organising a charity fundraising event is the best way of generating funds, but where do you start? Event production can be extremely daunting. If you’re planning on organising a charity fundraising event, there are a series of steps you need to make sure you take in order to avoid your event falling apart.
Step 1: Budget
Assuming you’ve already decided on the cause you’re raising money for, the first thing to determine is what funds you are able and willing to spend on the event. This choice affects all other decisions in the production and organisation of your event. Create a spreadsheet to keep track of all of your expenses, even those that you might think are at first trivial or insignificant.
Step 2: Type of event
The budget determines the scale of the event, and thus the type of events available for you. From this point onwards, we’ll focus on the smooth running of medium to large scale events. Consider the message you want to give out, and the full range of events that might be appropriate. Do you want it to take the form of a sit-down meal, a gig, a bingo evening, or a golf tournament? Don’t be afraid to be imaginative – but make sure that the type of event you choose is appropriate and sensitive to the cause you’re raising money for.
Step 3: Date and venue
Choosing the date of the event and the venue for your event are often interchangeable in their order. If a particular venue is vital to the success of your charity event, then you’ll have to choose a date where the venue’s available.
Either way, it’s important to choose a date that maximises the potential attendance of the attendees that you’re trying to attract. If you want to encourage working people to attend, choose a Friday or Saturday night. If your focus is on university students, weekdays are equally appropriate. The venue needs to be easy to access, particularly if you want the public to attend of their own accord in large numbers. If the charity event is to be invite only, you might be able to be more flexible with your choice of location.
Step 4: Determining which event production services you need
This stage is also highly dependent on the budget of your event. If you’re able to spend money on video production or projection mapping, professional lighting services and other set design factors, then this is the stage to develop these plans.
If you’re on a more limited budget, you might want to consider making use of the venue’s standard lighting rigs. Furthermore, when making enquiries, don’t be afraid to explain that you’re arranging a charity event, which may lead to discounts from some suppliers. Don’t always be tempted by the cheaper sound or lighting options when you’re hiring equipment; often, paying a little extra to access technical support, delivery, installation and collection will be well worth it to ensure smooth event production with fewer headaches.
Step 5: Safety, insurance and licensing requirements
By law, you are required to carry out a risk assessment of your event and implement the safety precautions that you find can help reduce the risks you determined. You must also ensure that disabled access is maintained throughout the event.
If you’re collecting money on the night (or day!) of the event, then you’ll almost certainly need to obtain a licence from your local authority. The same applies if you’re planning on serving alcohol, playing music, or using banners or posters to advertise the event in a public space. You may also need a licence from the Performing Rights Society if you’re going to be using TV, music, or film at your charity event.
Step 6: Promotion
For your event to succeed, you need guests! The promotion of the event can easily be overlooked when deciding on your budget, but luckily, even if you’re short of cash there are a multitude of ways you can let the world know about your charity event.
Dive headfirst into online marketing – create a public Facebook event once you have all the details finalised, then share it with your friends and encourage them to spread the word. Don’t forget to ask the venue and the charity you’re fundraising for to post it on their social media channels – that way you’ll catch the attention of thousands more potential attendees. But remember: don’t spam. Take a look at successful charity Facebook pages (such as War Child’s) to see what best engages the audience, and what content gets shared.
In the days leading up to the event, you’ll want to focus even more heavily on promotion. If your event is large, have a press release written for it: some charities hire PR staff specifically to write press releases for charity events, so contact them for more details. If you’re writing it yourself, follow these tips for a professional looking press release. Contact local newspapers and ask them if they’ll attend and write a report of the event.
Finally, set up an online fundraising page for the event, which will give you the chance to raise money before and after the event itself, and will allow those who are unable to attend the event to still contribute.
Step 7: The day of the event and beyond
With all your planning and hard work, all you should have left to do at the event is to concentrate on everyone donating and enjoying themselves! Be passionate about the cause and don’t shy away from expressing this to the attendees – they wouldn’t be there if they weren’t interested!
Have someone in charge of taking photos of all the goings-on at the event. Upload these to your Twitter or Facebook page as the event unfolds, to try and persuade further people to join you.
Once the event is over, thank those who attended and donated, and continue to speak to local media about promoting the event, particularly if you’ve raised an impressive or record-breaking sum. For a successful example, see this newsletter from Epworth HealthCare about their 2012 Gala Ball.
It’s highly unlikely that everything will run smoothly and without any hiccoughs, so be prepared with a contingency plan wherever possible. Remember that most people will not know the full extent of everything you had planned, so try not to panic if something minor falls through in the final week of preparation. If there’s anything our event management expertise could help with at the last minute – replacing equipment, managing seamless transitions on the night or providing experienced technicians, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.
Need a hand with any of these seven stages? R&B Group is an award-winning event production company covering all aspects of event production, from set design to equipment hire. Contact us now to learn more.