Charity Events, Plan, Plan and Plan Some More

The pitfalls I hear you say. It’s true not all charity events run smoothly, there can be numerous hiccups on the way to staging an event.

Getting passed these can be a struggle, but you can get passed them.

When it comes to an event, an organisation can spend months planning what they will do, why they will do it and promote, then stage the event. It’s something that can create a lot of stress and frustration.

Making sure you have a strong event planner is a must, don’t start anything until you have sat and brainstormed the event, what will be needed, possible partners and the outcomes you want from the event. If you don’t do this you’re only setting yourself up for failure.

I’ve seen organisations plan an event, when I say plan, I mean they dream up the idea of an event, contact a few supporters then send out emails inviting people to come along. There’s been little or no planning, then after the event (or maybe days before) the organisation panics, it hasn’t met the ”goals” of the event, income has been lower than expected and costs have soared. All of this could have been avoided, if proper planning had been undertaken.

I’m not going to go into the specifics of planning, but more about some areas that should be taken into consideration:

Venue, is this easily accesible, have you considered where guests will be able to park?

Catering, know your supplier and don’t just accept the first price they quote, can the sharpen the pencil and offer you a better deal if ”billed” as a sponsor?

Invitees, who are you going to invite, when was the last time these people supported your work? Don’t forget to get your Board involved in the invitation process, they may be able to tap into their business networks to help with sales to the event.

Auction, will you be holding one, will it be a live or silent auction? Gaining items to sell can be a massive task in itself, have someone dedicated to doing this; don’t dump this onto someone who already has a lot to do.

Pull the Plug, have something in your plan to monitor ticket sales and know when you will be to pull the plug. There’s nothing worse than having too few people attend and have the even run at a loss.

Timing, when will you hold the event, weekends don’t always work, nor do times leading up to holidays or other major activities in the community. As part of your planning do some research into what is already being planned in your area before setting your date.

So, before you mark on the calendar when your event will be, before you name your event; sit down with your colleagues, and perhaps a supporter or two and brainstorm your event. You need to plan the planning of any event if you want it to be a success.

Happy planning.

Product Donations

It often happens a charity makes a request to a business for a donation and instead of cash, they are offered product; anything from books, kitchenware to vouchers for services can often be offered.

The dilemma some charities face is what to do with the items – some don’t have the resources to convert these items into cash. What can they do with them?

In general I’d suggest any charity being offered product instead of cash, should where possible accept it. It could be seen as being uncharitable to turn items down, if you say no today, will they offer anything else in the future. Are you willing to take the gamble? I’d suggest accept the items in– you will find a use for them, you’ll likely be able to convert them to cash – all it takes is some thought and planning.

How can goods be converted/traded into cash?

Raffles and sweepstakes

Smaller items can be ‘grouped’ together and a raffle/sweepstake held to convert items into cash.

Depending on where you are these can be held with little red tape depending on the value of the prizes offered.

Get supporters to help sell tickets. Use space on the tickets to help reinforce the message of the work you do in the community.

On Sell, Garage Sale, Online Auctions

As items come in it could be worth looking at the volume and if there is a large enough number of items perhaps you could hold a garage sale.

Supporters and the wider community could help with other items to help make it worthwhile – for visitors.

As well as an opportunity to sell items, a garage sale could be an opportunity to provide some entertainment making for a family event.

This would also give you the opportunity to help educate people about the work you do.

If there are too few items to warrant a garage sale – use an online auction site to sell the goods, relatively easily converting them to cash.

This is relatively simple to do, and would only require regular attention being paid to what bids are coming in, questions about the items being asked, and arranging delivery of sold items.

Charity Auction

A gala event with a charity auction ‘attached’ can reap good rewards.

Hold a gala charity dinner, hold both silent and open auctions – as well as giving supporters the opportunity to mix and mingle, staged right they can be very successful and fun for all concerned.

Both silent and open auctions can often be a bit of fun, with competing companies competing with each other to win the auction.

Entertainment and speeches (brief) help to build the theme for the night and also gives you the opportunity to publicly thank supporters.

You can list items on TradeMe – who generally offer registered charities special offerings, there’s also a relatively new site List Buy Give which may suit your needs.

Next time you’re offered a fridge, vacuum cleaner or other item – think again before saying no. You could convert this to cash!!

What are your experiences, policies on accepting donated goods?