Organising a charity event is a challenging task. Dealing with sensitive issues and money entails a great deal of responsibility. You want to raise awareness and funds for your cause, and you need to invest a considerable amount of time in planning and preparation to get the right people to show up.
This guide will walk you through the most important aspects of organising charity events, allowing you to plan and carry out a successful fundraiser.
Before the event: planning phase
The most important thing is to properly plan your charity event, which means paying close attention to every detail. Here are a few key points to consider during the planning phase.
Identify your cause
It is essential to define who you are raising funds for and why at the very beginning. You can’t expect people to donate their time and money if they don’t know to whom or for what they’re donating. This “mission statement” will serve as the foundation for all other decisions later on.
Set a clear goal
Whether it’s to raise money or just increase awareness and foster networking, you have to set a specific objective for your charity event.
If you decide to raise funds, you will need to have a clear fundraising goal. Aim to cover your expenses (the money you spent organising the event) and then raise 30% more. You can, on the other hand, focus on recruiting recurring donors or connecting with charity partners.
Every decision made during preparation should have this goal in mind, and every person should be working towards it.
Choose your target audience
Conduct research to determine who your target audience will be — the people you want to come to the event, support the cause and donate money. You should focus your efforts on reaching those potential attendees and adapt your event to them.
Plan a budget
You probably have limited funds for organising your event so you should make a detailed plan about how you will spend them. You don’t want to waste any money or risk overspending.
Budget for renting a venue, decorations, providing food and beverages, renting equipment, providing entertainment and organising activities. Determine how much money should be allocated to each aspect and keep a firm hand on expenses. Account for unanticipated costs as well. Having a buffer against the unexpected keeps you from being caught off guard.
Figure out where you can save money without sacrificing quality. You could, for example, ask people to volunteer. Many are willing to donate their time and expertise to a good cause. Because the profits will all go to charity, you may be able to negotiate discounts for various aspects of your event.
Assemble a team
A small fundraiser can be organised by one or two people but a larger charity event requires a team. Your team could be paid staff or volunteers, as long as you have people you can rely on and delegate work to.
Rent a venue
Venue hire will most likely consume a significant portion of your budget, but besides the cost, you have to also consider capacity and accessibility. Try to book the venue as soon as possible so you have enough time to prepare and promote your event.
Here are some basic questions to ask when looking for a venue:
- What is the maximum capacity of the venue?
You probably have some idea about how many people you expect to attend the event, and you don’t want the place to be too crowded.
- How accessible is it?
Your guests should be able to find the location easily using GPS or road signs. A place with parking or easily accessible by public transportation would be ideal.
- Is there a discount for charity events?
Some places provide discounts for fundraising events as a gesture of goodwill, but they may also receive a tax benefit for doing so.
- Are there any days that are less expensive than others?
Many places book months in advance and often have limited availability. Some days and dates, however, are less popular than others, so venues may reduce their rental costs on those days. The more flexible you can be with the day/date, the more likely you are to find the right space at the right price.
- What’s included in the price?
Check what the venue provides for the price and whether there is something you’ll have to take care of yourself. Things like catering, equipment rental, parking, etc., might not be included.
Most venues include furniture, but you may need to rent some chairs and tables to ensure that there are enough for everyone. Unless the venue has a public announcement system (microphones, loudspeakers, amplifiers, etc.), this may be something you’ll have to take care of as well.
Hire a caterer
If you want to serve some snacks or drinks and the venue does not provide them, you will need to hire a caterer. Catering is usually required for high-profile fundraising events.
Think about possible safety issues and insurance
You will be responsible for everyone’s safety at your event. Keeping people safe at charity events is largely a matter of taking simple, common-sense precautions. Think about what could potentially go wrong, what impact it could have on those present and what you need to do to avoid it.
There is no law that says you have to, but it might be a good idea to get public liability insurance. Although good planning is what keeps things from going wrong, public liability insurance protects you financially in the event of an accident or property damage.
Create a memorable experience
You should do more for your guests than just sell tickets for the event and ask for money. A fundraising event should be fun and interactive.
Think about what fundraising activities your target audience might find interesting. Ask local companies to donate prizes for the activities. These could be gift baskets, experiences or services.
Here are just a few ideas on how to keep your guests engaged:
- charity auction
- treasure hunt
- balloon pop
- karaoke contest
- obstacle course
- ice bucket challenge
- wacky sports
Check that all of your activities adhere to the insurance, health and safety and other requirements.
You can also invite guest speakers, musicians, comedians, magicians, etc., to keep your guests entertained. Budget to pay them or ask them to perform for free to help the charity. Most artists want to help charities out of a sense of compassion but being involved with good causes also benefits their reputation.
Promote the event
Come up with a promotion strategy that will raise awareness about the event and reach your target audience. You should promote the event using the medium of communication most used by the audience you wish to reach. Don’t try to reach a corporate audience through Tik Tok. It’s unlikely that corporate suits use it. If you are organising a community-based charity event, consider using local media. There is no one-size-fits-all solution.
People are more likely to attend an event if they are aware of it ahead of time, so make sure to advertise the date well in advance (at least 6 months). Encourage people to purchase tickets online through an event ticketing platform that accepts digital and mobile payments.
Decide how you will collect donations
Ticket sales may help raise funds, but people will want to participate in various activities and donate additional funds. Cash donations used to be a norm in the past, however, fewer people tend to carry cash in their wallets or pockets nowadays. So don’t limit yourself to cash donations, accept debit and credit card donations as well. Provide your staff and volunteers with chip and pin handsets for cashless payments.
If you decide to accept cash donations, you will need a safe or a place to keep the money before depositing it in a bank.
Thorough preparation should ensure that everything runs smoothly on the day of the event. Begin the day with a meeting to make sure that everyone understands their roles and responsibilities and go over the agenda. Check that everything is in place and all equipment is functioning properly.
At all times, monitor the plan’s performance to ensure that everything is going as planned and that the objectives are being met. Unexpected events may occur, but if you have planned well, you should be able to overcome any inconvenience that arises during this phase.
It’s a good idea to share the event’s progress and activities on social media. Create and use a hashtag for the event. Encourage others to use it as well. You can also do live streaming.
After the event
If you had received cash donations, you should count the money and deposit it as soon as possible.
Clean the venue
It should be clearly stated in your venue hire agreement whether you are responsible for cleaning the venue after the charity event. If you are, you will have to clean up the mess yourself or hire someone to do it for you.
Ensure that all equipment is returned in full and in good condition. You will be charged additional fees if the equipment is lost or damaged during the event.
After the event, have a brief discussion with your team to go over what went well and what did not go so well. Compare the results with established objectives to see where you could do better next time and write a report.
Show your gratitude
Thank everyone who contributed via email or social media: donors, sponsors, speakers, volunteers, staff, vendors and so on. Inform them about the event’s success and what you intend to do with all of the money raised.
Generate interest in your future events
Post highlights of the event on social media and encourage attendees to do the same. This may pique the interest of their friends and acquaintances, and they may wish to attend your next event as well.
To sum up
Planning a fundraising event is not an easy task but pulling one off successfully is extremely rewarding. Preparation is key, and when you spread the word on time and attract the right people, you are bound to reach your fundraising target! When the event finishes, make sure to say thank you to all the participants and encourage them to attend your future events. Good luck, and we hope to see you organise a fantastic fundraising event soon!