We’ve all been there – you are sitting in a meeting either at work or at your local sporting club, school parents and friends meeting or community group and someone says, “How about we hold a fundraiser for that?”. It’s ok – you can admit it – you groaned a little. Don’t feel bad – fundraisers are a great way to raise funds for school activities, local community initiatives, to support families in need, BUT… they are hard work to organise. How do you run a fundraiser? They are not the easiest event you could ever host. To make fundraising life a little easier, the team at Mingara Events Centre have put together some of their top tips for your next fundraising event.
Why are we the experts in fundraising?
Fundraising is at the heart of the Mingara Recreation Club’s core. Without fundraising by a hardworking and eager group of local citizens, the Club would never have begun! Mingara Recreation Club’s vision is to make a significant contribution to the quality of community life and for us, in the events department, this translates often to us working with many community groups to enable them to host their community events. A very popular style of an event run by community groups is fundraisers.
Fundraisers allow community groups to raise much-needed funds for many causes including; charity organisations, people in need, special community projects etc. They are also some of the hardest events that you can organise. You will need a great team working with you, both from your group and from the venue you are holding the event at. Everyone involved needs to contribute to the event – sourcing auction items, raffle prizes, lucky door prizes and asking for donations. The to-do list can seem never-ending!
If you are thinking of running a fundraiser for your cause here are some helpful hints to consider:
1. Choose your name wisely
The name of your event is vitally important when hoping to engage an audience that may not be familiar with your cause. Including the word ‘fundraiser’ in your event title lets people know exactly what you are trying to achieve by hosting your event. Be upfront – people, we are here to fundraise, we are here to have a great night and make some money for a great cause. How will you make your event stand out from the many others that will be happening in the local community at the same time?
2. Ticket price
Do not – we repeat do not just pull a ticket price out of thin air. Setting your ticket price is an essential part of actual fundraising! The last thing you want to be doing is dipping into funds raised to cover the bill when you have sold tickets at too cheap a price. Write down everything that is required to make your event a success from meals, entertainment, room booking fee, decorations, A.V equipment, beverages, invitation costs, advertising…even down to postage and printing. That way you have a holistic view of your event and can then work to determine what your ticket price should be to cover costs. Quite often fundraising event organisers will aim to just cover their costs with the ticket price while others will add a little bit on top to kick off the fundraising efforts. It is up to your group to decide where the ticket price sits – you need to determine realistically how many tickets you need to sell to cover the event and how many you are expecting to actually sell. Don’t leave this up to one person in the fundraising team to do – work together on setting the ticket price. Be factual about what things cost – never estimate pricing or you will end up in fundraising hot water. Understand your audience and how much they will be willing to pay for the night out, event or experience you have on offer for them!
3. Get those tickets on sale
Sell! Sell! Sell! These days there are many online sites that can assist you with selling tickets to your event and it is worth considering the costs involved in this when factoring in all of the costs of running your event (i.e include in your ticket pricing strategy) and whether these booking fees etc. will be passed on to the ticket purchaser or absorbed by the event (and therefore an additional cost for you). The Mingara Recreation Club uses Outix for a ticketing service but here are some others.
According to the Outix website – “Outix provides event organisers with a safe and simple ticketing platform that has been designed to make purchasing event tickets online and on mobile devices dead easy.”
Simply well executed – claims their website. “One platform to help you build manage and grow your events. ” The site does reference that they ticket events from small pop up dinners to the world’s largest festivals. Claiming that whether you host a conference, a festival or are running a class – their options and technology get you up and running quickly and will look great on any device.
Offers up pain-free online ticketing and event registrations on their website! The ability to sell event tickets and registrations in 3 easy online steps.
DO. YOUR. HOMEWORK!
These are just a few of the options available and there will be one that totally suits your event, your goals and your RSVP and ticket selling needs.
4. Event format
Surprise! The best event format for your fundraiser really depends on the nature of the cause you are raising funds for. The Mingara Events team have catered to casual fundraisers with a cocktail menu to formal banquet events. Again the event format will have an impact on your overall cost so best to consider this before setting your ticket price. You do not need to hold a formal event to raise a lot of funds for your cause. try and know your audience, and very importantly know the dollar goal you are setting out to achieve through this event. This will help shape the entire event, including; event format, ticket price, dress code, ticket sales and even the number of donations required.
- Trivia nights
- Silent auctions
- Lawn bowls days
- Themed events
- Fashion shows
- Wine tasting dinners
- Casino/poker nights
- Movie nights
- High teas
- Morning teas
- Sporting events
5. Start spreading the word
This can potentially be one of the most important yet cost-effective parts of your next fundraising event. Marketing your event is much more straightforward than in the past and social media now plays a huge part in this. Setting up a Facebook event allows you to spread the word quickly and cheaply. You can talk directly to an engaged audience and keep them updated in the lead up to the event with all sorts of information such as entertainment, auction items etc. Make sure that everyone in your organisation likes the Facebook event and clicks the “interested” box – more importantly have them share the event with their friends on social media and encourage their friends to attend too. Have event sponsors – even better – see if they will share the event on their page or pages! Maybe they will even list your event on their website. You can only ask.
Facebook has a great support centre that can take you step by step through how to set up a Facebook event. Important points to remember are that your event is set to public – so that everyone can see the event and share it (of course if for some reason it is private and invited people only – set to private!). Keep the event page updated – don’t just set it up and forget about it – keep encouraging people to buy tickets, keep adding extra exciting bits of information. Announce your entertainment, tease them with some great silent auction prizes, give them hints as to who the M.C. might be. It is totally up to you!
6. Call in the cavalry
One person does not a fundraising event make!
Find like-minded people to help. Fundraisers can be particularly labour intensive when you consider everything that needs to be done. In the early stages of planning your event, it is worth taking some time to rally a group of like-minded people that can each manage an element of the event or at least provide you with support. For example, one person might be able to look after ticket sales and another auction items and another seating allocations. Before you know it the event planning has been broken down into bite-size pieces and less for one person to look after. This may, of course, bring along some problems of its own. Communication is key – everyone needs to be clear on the objective of the fundraiser and how you are going to raise the funds. Keep everyone accountable for their pieces of the fundraising event puzzle. Perhaps set a timeline for events to be done by. It is also important to acknowledge that in most fundraising situations people are volunteering their personal time to help with the organisation. With that in mind, allow yourself plenty of time to host the event. Organising a fundraising dinner and auction for the next month is probably not achievable.
7. Prizes and auctions
A major source of money raised at fundraising events often comes from auctions and raffles. This is where your community group and volunteers can also play a role as you’d be surprised how many people everyone knows when you think about it! Where possible all auction items and prizes should be donated so as to lessen the cost of running your event. A few key items will gain a lot of interest and don’t forget that smaller / cheaper items can always be packaged up and included in raffle prizes. Another key consideration when running auctions is how you would like successful bidders to pay for their items. Mobile EFTPOS units are available from most banks but there is a lead time required and potentially added costs so make sure you start this process early.
8. The best time to hold a fundraising event
Ultimately the best time is when you have enough time to organise it! If you are planning an event for the first time then it is important to consider how long you will need to plan and provide invitees with enough time to gather a table and maybe save up for their ticket. It is also important to check what other events are on at the same time in the community – is the proposed date of your event coinciding with a big national fundraising effort like Red Shield Appeal or McHappy Day? Guests might be donation shy if they have been inundated with national giving campaigns on radio, tv, online and even in their home. Is it close to Christmas when budgets are tight and aimed at gift buying, is it school holidays when families may have trouble getting babysitters so they can attend the event? Is there a fundraising event on within the same community you are fundraising in. Whether we like to believe it or not – each individual only has a certain amount of charitable funds each year to donate out of their family/personal budget.
9. Event debrief
As much as you all want to relax after the big event, it is just as important in the planning stages to schedule some time to debrief the event with all involved. Taking the time de-brief is super important for fundraisers so you can determine what worked well, what didn’t work so well, what you would like to do differently next time. We strongly recommend de-brief meetings are recorded, take great notes and share them with the fundraising team. It is common with annual events that a lot of the detail can be forgotten soon after the event. The team leader may move on with all of their knowledge and learnings leaving the event to start from scratch again. We would even suggest having all the event data stored in a common place for the organisation. Budgets, invitations, sponsors, ticketholders details so that they are accessible for the next fundraising team.
Talk to the experts!
We wish you well on your fundraising journey and as always Mingara’s Event Centre staff are here to help in any way we can. No matter how crazy an idea – we have probably heard it before and can work with you through the pros and cons of that style or type of an event. Do your research, ask for help, be open to suggestions and importantly congratulate yourself at the end of the event. It takes a load of work to put together a fundraising event and relies on many different skills from many different people. Be thankful for everyone’s efforts no matter how big or how small – thank your sponsors, donators and ticket holders. Thank your families for putting up with you while you organise the event. Ultimately – enjoy your event. Work with a skilled events team like the team at the Mingara Events Centre.
Contact the team at Mingara Events Centre here – we are happy to help!