Start with some market research – do you know enough people who would want to come? How much are they willing to pay? When you set up your committee you could say everyone must fill at least one table of 10?
Talk to local hotels who will probably have done this before – they like to be involved for publicity and if you pick a quiet time of year they make money from the bar and room bookings so you may get a reduced rate on room and food.
Try to choose a date that doesn’t clash with any local events which your guests are likely to attend or an important sporting event they might not want to miss. Also best not to try to sell tickets over the summer when people are likely to be away on holiday. In addition don’t hold it in the school holidays.
Get together a team of people you can really rely on to form an event committee, don’t do it alone! Delegate key tasks, for example sourcing auction or raffle prizes, publicity or organising the event decorations. Have regular meetings to keep track of what is happening.
Local press/radio will be interested they love local fundraisers and talking about what they are doing. Try to get them to do a series of articles. Make sure they know about any personal connections to our charity.
Give yourself plenty of time to organise anything – the first time you do this it will be hard work – don’t add unnecessary time pressures.
Here is a suggested timeline
9 months before
Set up your event committee, Confirm format, budget and how you’re going to raise money .Confirm date and venue, talk about potential sponsors (use contacts) and start making approaches. Sponsorship is so important when you are doing something like this as it means you can add bells and whistles and still make a good fundraising total. You could have one or two big sponsors or lots of small sponsors.
6 months before
Send out a save the date. Start to try to collect prizes for auction/raffle. Book entertainment (disco, band, comedian). Start thinking about decoration etc. maybe a theme…..
3 months before
Start selling tickets. You can use platforms like https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/ or use traditional tickets– use personal connection, Facebook and other social media platforms – get everyone on your committee to invite their contacts. Contact local businesses and see if they would like a table.
Create and print programme and other materials. Let us know what you would like in terms of information. We can provide balloons, bunting banners etc. We also have videos that you can play on the night to explain what we do and why.
Get someone to be your MC for the evening – It could be well known person in your community or someone charismatic you trust who is good at organising/working under pressure. It’s a really important role.
One month before
Confirm details with venue (menu etc.). Prepare your schedule for the event and set up your team to help at the ball to help you on the night. Make sure everyone knows beforehand what’s happening and when.
Two weeks before
Send out tickets (if you are not using Eventbrite) and any final information (auction prizes, timings etc). Meet with the venue and confirm final numbers, table plan, dietary needs etc. Make sure you go away feeling confident they are aware and on board with your schedule.
On the night
Be prepared for little hic ups. Make sure you know exactly how to get hold of someone from the hotel should you need them. Test any audio equipment ahead of time. Ensure your team are briefed before the guests start to arrive and know their responsibilities - but most of all have fun!
A few little tips for along the way
If you can’t get it free or ask for a charity rate – they can only say no!
Set your ticket at a realistic price based on how much it costs and what you think guests will be prepared to pay.
If you cover your costs through ticket sales and sponsorship then anything you make through your auction and raffle or other games will be your fundraising total!
If you’re asking companies for sponsorship think about what you can offer them in return. Maybe advertising or a few free tickets……maybe a table at the event – they may bid big at the auction!!!!!
On the night make a short speech to tell people why they are there and encourage them to donate consider using our animation/videos
Don’t do too much people want to have fun!
Use simple fun activities – we always do Heads and Tails - You’ll need a Master of Ceremonies to tell people what to do and when, but it’s really simple. Everyone pays an agreed fee to play (we suggest £5, £10 or £20) and puts this into an envelope on their table. Everyone stands up and they are asked to choose ‘heads’ (putting their hands on their head) or ‘tails’ (putting their hands on their bottom). A coin is tossed and the result announced. All those who lose sit down and this continues until you are left with a winner.
A raffle can be an easy way to get lots of your guests involved and raise money on the evening. You’ll need to source a number of exciting prizes which are guaranteed to get people’s interest when you ask them to buy tickets. (There are some legal guidelines around this form of fundraising and you shouldn’t sell tickets outside ot the event).
If you have the right prizes and audience you could consider holding an auction. Consider when you do you auction? Normally after a few drinks is more effective! Keep it short – you’re better to limit yourself to six really good items to keep your guests’ attention. Send a list of auction prizes out with the final information to your guests. That way they’ll know what they can bid on. Make sure your auctioneer is fully briefed on each of the prize and you’ll need volunteer spotters to keep track of who’s got the latest bid and to ensure that you get their information and payment once they’ve won. Maybe display your prizes like signed football shirts in a prominent place during the event.
Announce a final total raised at the end of the event!