Planning the Perfect Charity FundraiserBy HOPP Team
Feature Image: The Wallace Collection
Forging connections, generating awareness, and making an impact on your attendees is a powerful way of generating funds for any worthy cause. A well-thrown party will help you to engage with potential donors, and to celebrate your successes by giving something back to the wider community.
While a charity fundraiser is an excellent opportunity to extend much-needed support to a worthy cause, organising a worthwhile event to a strict budget is a demanding and time consuming venture. Venues, entertainment, guest lists, event suppliers and fundraising activities all need to be secured and finalised and, at times, it can feel as though the To Do list is endless.
Rather than getting caught up in the chaos of party planning, read our guide to planning a successful charity fundraiser.
Defining Your Cause
Before you begin making any concrete plans, take some time to consider exactly what it is that you are hoping to achieve with this charity fundraiser event.
Outline a concise mission statement for the event — you will, of course, need a fundraising goal, as well as additional aims such as networking, raising awareness, generating publicity — which you and your committee can refer back to as the planning process gains momentum.
Also to consider is how your event will be raising funds. Ticket sales, silent auctions, and charity casino nights are all excellent ways of generating a profit for your charity.
A clear budget will create a framework for the event, against which you can way up the pros and cons of certain expenses, spend judiciously, and get the most out of your outlay. It is easy to justify a little extra spending in the spirit of a good cause, but staying true to your budget should remain a top priority.
Make a list of the event suppliers you will require. Invitations, venue hire, catering, waitstaff, entertainment, lighting, sound, photography, music and drinks all need to be accounted for, and understanding exactly what your budget will need to cover — prior to making any commitments — will enable you to plan a much more successful charity fundraiser event.
Choosing a Theme
While fundraising remains the primary goal for your event, a well-thrown party is one that has been born of a strong, singular vision. A theme will keep all aspects of the night cohesive, increase the impact you have on your guests, as well as generating excitement and enthusiasm for your cause before, during, and after the event.
Unique experiences resonate with guests, and straying from the ‘beaten path’ of event planning will enable you to forge a stronger connection — and, in turn, raise more funds — with attendees enjoying an event they have never experienced before.
Choose something a little unusual, and make sure that it will appeal to your list of attendees, and contribute to the goals laid down in your mission statement. If you are using your charity fundraising event as a way of networking and building relationships with benefactors, then aim to keep your theme understated and elegant in order to promote conversation. Consider a charity wine tasting event — or, for a daytime event, choose coffee.
Finding The Event Venue
Securing the venue is key to remaining organised and on-schedule with your plans. It will allow you to confirm your date, as well as how many guests you are able to invite, which will mean that your invitations can be issued in a timely manner.
Focus your search on finding an event venue that will suit your theme and generate excitement. For larger events, or something you want families to enjoy together, hire a party structure such as a marquee or tent. This will give guests plenty of space in which to network, both in and out of doors, as well as some marvelous views of your venue’s grounds.
Aside from your venue’s management team, this will be one of the first event suppliers you reach out to. Work with an event stationer to design invitations and ‘thank you’ cards that reflect the unique character of your charity fundraiser event; if it is to be ticketed, use this same artwork to keep it cohesive. For a more environmentally friendly approach, consider working with your party supplier to create E-Save the Dates instead.
With a large volume of guests in attendance, your event catering can work with you to create a selection of hors d'oeuvres. Feeding a roomful of people needn’t be complicated; a selection of flavourful, moreish bites that pair well with the drinks and company will make everyone feel welcome.
Hire a small team of waiting staff to serve your guests as they mingle. If you are serving canapes throughout the evening, then aim to hire one server for every twenty-five guests.
Bespoke bar hire is a great option for any venue that does not come equipped with one. Tailor your drinks menu to suit the size and style of the event; make certain that there is something for everyone on there, and your attendees will be kept in good spirits.
Any posts on social media containing photography taken at your event will do more to bring attention to your cause, and gain your company plenty of positive publicity. Consider hiring a professional photographer for the night, or installing a photobooth for your guests to enjoy together. Order a backdrop that exhibits your brand, and the worthy cause the evening has been organised in support of; this will help word to spread, even to those not in attendance.
Live music invigorates the atmosphere of any gathering — just make sure you choose a musician or band that complements the theme and formality you have chosen for your event. A singer, acoustic band, or pianist, for instance, will promote networking and conversation, while a jazz band or DJ will draw the crowd to the dancefloor.
- A Compere or Host
This is an investment that will often pay off. A comedian is the best option for maintaining the event’s momentum; if not, then a celeb presenter. For a charity event, they will typically offer a reduced rate. This helps to attract guests, keep the flow of the evening, and keeps the mood light and auction lively. A bad auctioneer can be awkward and slow, which may cause your guests to wander off before the evening is finished.
- Lighting and Sound
Hiring an experienced production company to ensure that your lighting and sound are designed to make the very most of your venue will give your event a professional edge. Remember that your speeches are vital to explaining the charitable cause for whom you are hosting, and generating more fundraising, so proper sound and lighting equipment is vital. Ensure that you leave time to run a test.
Visuals are so much more powerful that a stand alone speech. Have your production company position multiple screens around the room to ensure that all guests can see comfortably from their seats.
Types of Fundraising
Remember that less is more; many of your guests will be accustomed to these events, and the best way to maintain the excitement is to keep it short and sweet. Anything smaller can go into silent auction
Fantastic for a little friendly competition among your guests as they bid against their friends. Upload the information onto ipads and have your guests read the info throughout drinks and dinner;
Display the prizes throughout the event, and give your guests plenty of opportunities to purchase extra tickets by hiring staff to circulate throughout the room, and build a sense of friendly competition.
Make it easier for guests to donate by placing a few separate stations throughout the venue. In an increasingly cashless world, this can also be done on card readers. You can rent PDQ terminals, which can take credit and debit card payments quickly and seamlessly throughout the event.
Heads or Tails
Here, all guests have to donate a certain amount to play — around £20. The Compere or Host then flips a coin, and the guests choose to put their hands on bums or heads. If tails, then bums stay standing and heads sit down, and if heads then vice versa. The host carries on flipping until there is one man left standing who wins the prize.