Raising money from an event is often a great way to get a lump sum to give to a cause you support. The wildfires in Australia in 2019/2020 especially have really incentivized a lot of people to try and help and I am seeing a lot of events pop up on my newsfeed so I thought I’d chime in and give some tips. Through my work in events I have helped raise over £10,000,000 for causes including animal conservation, childhood cancer and the visual and performing arts and there is certainly a formula to it, and a lot to learn.
This area needs more than one blog post and I am considering writing an e-book to truly cover everything, but here is a quick bite sized rundown of the main things you need to consider.
How to throw a fundraiser in 10 steps
Choose a registered charity to benefit
Create your cornerstones! Your budget, schedules and invitation list
Confirm venue and format
Approach sponsors for cash and in kind donations
Set ticket price and send invitations
Promote ticket sales
Plan additional fundraising elements like raffles, auction or pledge moments
Confirm final guestlist, catering and decor requirements and fundraising elements
Manage on the day and stick to the schedule
Follow up with all guests and sponsors, sending thank yous
First up - choose a registered charity (check if they’re registered in the UK here or in the USA here) and tell them about as depending on the scale and income target they might be able to promote and support it. Don’t just say on an invitation ‘I am raising money for animals/children/cancer’, you need to state exactly where the money is going. That's a legal requirement.
Then create your cornerstones! Your budget, schedule, guestlist. Check out this blog post here for more info on them and here for templates. Essentially, how much do you have to spend/how much do you plan to make, what are all the things you need to do and when, and who are you going to invite.
Once you have these things you will have a much clearer idea of the event you are creating and your next steps, it will wake you up to your potential challenges but also your key assets. You'll know what kind of venue you need, what you can afford in terms of food and drink, what help you might need etc etc etc. Take your time to do them thoroughly and it will save you a lot of stress and panic later on.
Plan how you are going to make MONEY? This ain’t just a pretty party, this needs to generate cash. Plan this element carefully or you run the risk of throwing an incredible event but not even making back the money you spend, let alone raise money to donate and that puts you in hot water.
Think about where your revenue is coming from:
Ticket sales – This income is banked before the night itself and the price needs to be set once you know what your event costs are. You should aim to go into the event in the black so all event costs are covered by ticket income AT LEAST; you really want to profit from the ticket income too to really supercharge your success. Be realistic about what your invitation list can afford – the big glitzy fundraisers I worked on were only possible because of the network of the charity, hosts or committee so it’s important to pitch things at the right level and know your network.
Sponsorship – cash or in kind gifts can really help reduce the costs which means you make more for the charity so think about who you can approach for help here. Think about local businesses you could ask for money, who in return could put their logo on printed material and have a presence on the night. In kind gifts could include food and drink, raffle/auction prizes, décor, entertainment or things like programme design and printing. Again, think about what you can offer them in return.
On the night – Depending on the level of event and the format, fundraising on the night could be anything from a raffle to a full blown auction. Tip: let guests warm up first and then have someone talk about the cause before you ask for money, you need to give the guests a reason to give and move them to support the charity. Take them on a journey so that they are itching to open their wallets by the time you actually make the ask.
Think about your guest journey from the minute they walk through the door to when they leave. Who is going to greet them? Where will they put their coat? What will they eat and drink? What will they see and hear? How will they donate money (cash/cheque/credit card/bank transfer?)? Add all of this onto the ‘on the day’ schedule, and then when it all kicks off you have it to fall back on and just follow what it says.
After the event you’ll be in a bit of a daze but don’t forget to send your thank yous out ASAP to guests and anyone who helped, be it a sponsor, the florist or your great auntie Mildred who mucked in and laid out all the place cards. Make a fuss of the people who got involved and they won’t forget you (and also might help you again in the future).
This post is a bit of a whistle stop tour but I hope it helps you if you’re considering holding a fundraiser. It’s a wonderful thing to do but there is always so much to think about so with any luck my little blog might put you in a stronger position to get going and make it a success.
There are also many legalities and technicalities involved so always check the Charity Commission website if you are unsure of something.
Good luck and if you feel like you might need more help, I offer 90 minute power planning sessions online that can give you a real boost in the right direction. Visit this page for more information.