How to organise a fundraising event

Read our 10 tips on how to organise a fundraising event which will save you time, money & effort!

Everyone loves attending events, and it’s amazing to think that in non-COVID times, over a million events take place in London alone each year – that’s a lot of partying! And we say partying because the vast majority of these events are celebratory occasions such as gala dinners, balls, corporate hospitality events and award ceremonies, for instance.

organise a fundraising event

Another example of popular events held each (normal) year are fundraising events. These are events usually organised and held by charities who are looking to bolster their funds – after all, many charities rely on these types of events to keep running.

To give you an idea, there are around 168,000 registered charities in the UK, which adds up to a lot of charity fundraising events. The COVID-19 pandemic of course put paid to the vast majority of events in 2020, but here’s looking forward to their return in due course.

Of course, the biggest charities have teams of people who are seasoned professionals at organising fundraising events. However, smaller charities may well not have access to this resource and so why not read our ‘how to organise a fundraising event’ article below which provides you with 10 tips on how best to achieve it.

These fundamentals apply to all fundraising events, large and small, so always worth bearing in mind, whatever the charity event you are organising. So, when you come to organise a fundraising event, check these out!

Define the cause

It’s almost mind-blowing when you consider that around £10 billion is donated to charities each year in the UK alone – that’s a lot of people donating a lot of money. Of course, the more worthwhile the charitable cause, the more chance there is of donations, whether this is fewer larger donations or more, small donations.

Whatever the case, the principle when you come to organise a fundraising event is the same – define your cause so that people who you are hoping will support your event will engage with the concept and unite with you in this worthwhile cause. Keep the message simple: What event are you planning and what will the event support?

Come up with your creative concept

When you come to organise a fundraising event, it stands to reason that the more creative the concept, the more interested and engaged people are likely to be with your event. Of course, there’s always a time and a place for a black-tie formal dining event with an auction at the end of the meal to raise funds for your charity – after all, this is a tried and tested formula.

Basically, set the date, work out your costings, arrange the catering and the entertainment, hopefully you’ll be donated some prizes of value by local businesses, and you can then auction these off. People enjoy these events – it’s an opportunity to get dressed up and have a lovely evening out whilst supporting a highly worthwhile cause at the same time.

Variations on this include auctions for prizes that money can’t buy – this is often based on experiences rather than material goods. Likewise, have auctions that are done in sealed envelopes or even silent auctions where each item has a bid sheet, and bidders have a unique bidder number that they write onto the bidding sheet along with the value they are bidding – in other words, an auction without an auctioneer.

All these are great examples of concepts you can use when you come to organise a fundraising event. However, this is not to say that it HAS to be one of these – you can be as creative as you want! Suffice to say, however, that the value of these fundraising dinners is not just in the value of the money that is raised on the night but actually also in the value of the relationships with long-term supporters, both nurturing existing long term arrangements and also engaging with new opportunities – in other words, they provide a valuable networking opportunity for the charity itself.

Whatever fundraising event ideas concept you come up with it, again keep it simple and defined. The clearer the concept, the easier it will be to get your message across, and the easier it will be to communicate with your target audience.

Work out your budget…and stick to it!

Even though it’s a charity event, regardless of what event it is, it will always have a cost element attached to it. Let’s take the example of a formal sit down dinner event. There will be costs associated with the venue hire, catering, disco, dance floor, furniture and bar, entertainment and so on.

Unless you’re lucky enough to have an auctioneer as one of your charity patrons or supporters, then there might also be an associated cost with this. It goes without saying, of course, that you’ll want to keep overheads to a minimum, but there’s a fine line between organising an event on a budget and getting value for money.

There will be certain areas that you can scrimp and save on and other areas where you shouldn’t. Suffice to say that you’ll need to get your negotiating hat on! Anyhow, once you’ve decided on your budget, stick to it! When you come to organise a fundraising event, get that excel spreadsheet formulated and populated and regularly update it – this should be the driving force behind your event.

After all, you’re laying on this fundraising event to do exactly that – raise funds. In terms of what ‘profit’ you can make from your event, if you set yourself a target of 30-50% what is costs you, then you’re doing well, as a general rule of thumb.

Involve your key stakeholders early

It’s fair to say that the larger the charity, the larger in both number and profile your patrons and supporters are likely to be. The largest charities often have celebrities who are active in the media, shouting about the charity and developing the profile of the charity across all marketing streams. The smaller charities might not have this, but that’s not to say that supporters of these charities are any less valuable.

For any project, it’s always a good idea to engage with key stakeholders and supporters from an early stage – you never know what skills and access to resources they might be able to offer. You never know, one of them might be a hotel owner who is able to donate their hotel function room for the event as well as providing discounted rates on the rooms!

Find a suitable venue & set the date

And talking about venues, this is all-important. When you come to organise a fundraising event, finding the right venue and setting the date for the event go hand-in-hand with each other, as you need to set both at the same time. You can’t choose a venue without a date, and you can’t set a date without knowing about the availability of your venue!

Let’s use the example of a hotel. Is it large enough for your needs? Has it got enough bedrooms? What can they provide in terms of catering? Is there sufficient car parking? What about the bar prices – are these reasonable?

These are all types of questions that you should be asking yourself and the hotel manager when you have narrowed down your choice. And assuming that you’re happy with everything venue-wise, and ascertained that it is available on a particular date, then you now have the date set in stone!

Get social

You’ve got a date, you’ve got the venue and you’ve got the concept. These are the 3 critical areas you need in order to start your social media campaign when you come to organise a fundraising event. You need to get word out there, and what better way to do it than by using Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and others. That’s assuming, of course, that you’re targeting the general public at large.

Make sure your ticket prices are realistic and affordable yet still ensuring that you’re going to be making money on them. Again, work with your existing supporters and patrons who may want to buy whole tables of tickets for their friends, family and acquaintances. Have a think about who you are targeting and use social media to its very best. Also use that e-marketing list you have.

Liaise with suppliers

Depending upon what your venue can provide as part of the package, when you come to organise a fundraising event, you may also need to hire equipment such as lighting, dance floors, tables and chairs, mobile bars and other equipment hire to kit out the venue.

If you’ve been in the industry for a while, the chances are that you’ll already be familiar with some preferred suppliers who you have worked with previously. If not, then there are many event hire companies out there in the market who should be able to help.

easyEventhire, for instance, can provide you with the complete solution when it comes to furniture hire, catering equipment hire, glassware hire, cutlery hire, crockery hire and much more for your fundraising event, at great prices, nationwide. Build the relationship – it’s amazing what a great service you can receive when you’ve taken the time to get to know your designated sales person.

Work out how you’ll collect donations

It used to be the case that ‘cash is king’. However, few people walk around any more with pockets of change and wads of banknotes in their wallets. Make sure you’ve got access to contactless payment systems and card payment facilities online for larger values so that you can take payments for the auction prizes. This is essential!

Enjoy the event!

This can often be easier said than done as by the time you get to this point, you’re probably exhausted, and more concentrated on the fact that you want your guests to have a good time rather than yourself. This is, however, the culmination of months of work for you so in the midst of running around trying to work to you plan X, Y ad probably Z, don’t forget to lift your head up once in a while and take it all in.

Remember to say your thankyous

And last but by no means least, remember to say your thankyous. Of course, say thank you to all your generous donors and supporters, but also say thank you to those companies who provided the auction prizes, thanks to your suppliers who helped you out at the last minute when things weren’t going according to plan, and thanks to the venue. If it has been a success, the chances are that you’ll be doing it all over again next year so never burn your bridges…..you never know when you’ll need these people again!

When you come to organise a fundraising event, hopefully our tips above have been useful for you, and we wish you every success in your event planning process. Don’t forget that when the time comes, you can count on easyEventhire to provide you with a complete, seamless hire experience from start to finish when it comes to event equipment hire. Don’t hesitate to browse our site and place your secure order online 24/7 – you won’t be disappointed!

share:
author

Simon has a wealth of experience in the events industry having spent over 20+ years dealing with clients on major projects. With a particular interest in the sports and hospitality field, Simon is regularly asked to attend seminars, conferences, and other events to share his expertise and knowledge with others within the industry. Linkedin Profile