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.

Need People at Your Event?

We all struggle to get the number of people we want at events; we send invite after invited, make the calls yet we’re don’t get the numbers.

There’s all manner of way to get people to attend, but having just re-read

3 WAYS TO BUILD AN INVITE LIST… AND GET PEOPLE TO COME ALONG by Lou of Loud in Public, I thought it worth sharing.

I’m not going to say any more than – READ it …

You will gain some good tips and hey what you got to lose, your time spent reading is an investment in your next event …

Charity Alignment – Avoid The Tyson Effect

Controversy abounds over Mike Tyson and his on/off visit as a motivational speaker, should or shouldn’t he be allowed into the country is a decision only Immigration can really make – sure their decision could be overruled by the Minister of Immigration, as has happened already. I’m not going to get into the legal issues, or his right or otherwise to come here. 

Instead lets look at how charities need to be mindful of how they connect with others, what background checks they do, and what checks and balances they have in place for others working with or for an organisation who might put the welcome mat out to support an event.

Tyson’s visit to speak is being organized by a promoter and it would seem that a well meaning volunteer for an organization offered the welcome mat and further offered support by way of a letter supporter his application for a visitors visa; whether they had the right to send the letter is an internal matter, and one would hope rules and systems are being looked at to prevent anything like this happening again.

Sure, some would say his (Tyson’s) visit would benefit a charity, but what needs to be looked at is ‘alignment’ – does the person have the good character, morals to be associated? Forget about whether someone has served time or been punished in some way for what they have done in the past, what needs considering is whether supporters (present and future) will continue their support long after the event has been held and the money been banked.

It would seem in this case that the letter went out by an over zealous supporter, a volunteer Trustee, it would seem that the message from the governing board that they weren’t in support of the association didn’t get passed down the chain so that all who may have responsibilities for fundraising knew where the Trust stood.

If you’re a small, or a single location organization it’s a lot easier to manage things, but when you have branches, affiliate offices elsewhere that  have their own fundraising responsibilities it’s important that a clear fundraising guideline be in place.

Without a guideline people involved in promotion and fundraising can run amok – do you want your organization to be the next to hit the headlines over an over zealous supporter agreeing to something that your organization should perhaps steer clear of? If not, then dust off your internal procedures manual, flick to your communication and fundraising section and update it. If you don’t have a guideline now is the time to be thinking of putting on together – hop to it.

Collaborate and thrive

All too often we hear about orgnisations struggling to tap into information they need, they know it’s out there – but they don’t know how to soyurce it. 

If you’re an organisation needing help, support, knowlegde – and want to know more about collaboration – you really should check out Collaboration: The New Black

We’ve formed an alliance with Curative and AUT Business School under the banner of Comm-Unity to answer some of the challenges that community, not for profit and NGO services face, through a series of events that aim to help build capacity by sharing learnings and breaking down silos.

The first event in the Comm-Unity series is aptly titled: Collaboration – The New Black, and will be held at the AUT Business school on Saturday 08 September.

In response to the common struggle to operate on limited budgets, with increased demands; Collaboration, The New Black – seeks to show that collaboration is more than just a trend, but a necessity.


Agnes Ngaera of AUT Business School says, “We hear all too often how organisations struggle to source information, gain participation and shift public perception of an issue; often expending vast sums of money, on things other organisations are also trying to do.”


“Curative, Adage Business and AUT Business School all work with organisations that are experiencing exactly this. But we’ve also been exposed to fantastic examples of successful and productive collaboration.


“So with this first event we want to share examples that show how organisations can pool resources, connect and collaborate for common good, share knowledge to help each other, and build on the services they offer.

You’ll hear some great insights from

Will Watterson – The Global Poverty Project

Gill Greer – Volunteer Service Abroad

Jacinda Ardern – Labour MP

Pru Etcheverry – Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ

Steve Caunce & Dale Bailey – Fuji Xerox & Careers NZ

Norm Hewitt & Shelley Ryan – One of the Family


Each of the speakers will share their knowledge and experience of collaboration in action, to help attendees forge more successful and productive partnerships with other organisations.

Block out some time on Saturday 8 September and come along to Collaboration – The New Black


11am – 3pm at AUT Business School, Level 7, 42 Wakefield St


Visit to book to attend or to find out more about the event and speakers.

Sleeping rough is NOT a mere party trick


Last weekend Herald on Sunday columnist Paul Little wrote “Sleeping rough a mere party trick” – not only did he get the date of the Big Sleepout wrong, he also managed to ignore the fact that over the years the Lifewise Big Sleepout has helped many people.

One would expect anyone penning for the NZHerald to do their homework, to talk to people – or at the very least to use that wonderful tool known as the internet to research what is happening in, not only Auckland, but nationally and globally to help people who are homeless.

Something that’s important to understand is that we are all only three life changing events away from being homeless.

Homelessness is not typically a choice as some suggest, it is a consequence.

As a participant in this years Big Sleepout I was humbled to hear the stories of homeless people, to hear the stories of those who had lived a significant amount on the street who now have homes to call their own. One story that brought a lump to my throat was from one chap who said he had three choices – jail, mental hospital or death; it made me rethink a few things in my own life, and I’m sure it made other participants think about their own situations.

It was good to see Paul say “As an organisation, Lifewise does many great things to help homeless people directly and practically…” but to end this with  “This isn’t one of them.” Seemed hurtful to those who have been helped, those who will be helped and yes, those helping to make a difference by way of sleeping rough.

The Big Sleepout does make a difference, it helps people understand what homelessness is, it garners support for a worthwhile cause, and those who have participated – myself included, do it because we care and want to help make a difference.

To say “Unfortunately, charity these days is nothing unless it’s a media event, and all too often the focus on the event takes all the attention from the charity. It can end up making the problem less visible.” Is in my opinion wrong – charity events need media attention to show what’s happening, how people can help and raise the profile of the activity – charities can’t afford advertising campaigns – any money spent on those is money being used that is better used to help those needing help, whether it’s the homeless, or any other cause.

Media events, media attention are needed to get the message out, to garner support and to educate.

Harvey Norman, Noel Leeming and Briscoes can afford to spend huge sums on advertising to raise awareness of their sales – Lifewise doesn’t have this luxury – they need the help of people such as those who did the Big Sleepout, the ‘celebs’ to use the power, the connections that they have to help bring attention to events such as this.

Paul should:

1) get a new computer that will allow him to access the web to check his facts

2) roll out his sleeping bag next year

3) understand that all those who do their part to help others in the community are doing it because they believe in the cause.

Sleep out brings back memories

Social Media and your Event

Some organizations have already discovered that social media is ideally suited to event promotion and fundraising, others are yet to cotton onto the ‘power’ social media can bring their organization.

We do it in real life, we ask our family and friends to help with the work being done to stage an event, to help sell tickets or to help find sponsors; we ask them to share flyers, put posters up in their business and to – spread the word. Why then are we not also asking them to share this same information through social media?

The use of social media is now so widespread that it brings so many opportunities for messages, information to be share – we just need to start doing it.

A few simple things that could be done to help with your next event could be: 


  • When you put information out on your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or other platform – at the same time actively ask your friends, connections, followers to help spread the word – don’t be shy, some will – some won’t, but you will get added benefit, added awareness of your event no matter how many share the information.   
  • Some organizations email their supporters about the event, with a ‘footnote’ asking them to share information, pictures etc with thier online ‘friends’ – I see no problem with this – especially given that those being asked to do it already have some ‘connection’ with the organization so you’re not asking ‘just anybody’ to share it. 
  • Need help with equipment, a venue, product – then again, ask your online connections for help, you could be pleasantly surprised how successful this could be. Instead of spending hours on the phone calling around asking for ‘help’ – you can do the same, with a likely wider reach (and greater success) by asking people who already know what you’re all about doing the ‘asking’ for you.
  • Ask your friends to share other information about the event, there’s no harm asking the to share ‘post event’ information – when you talk about the event and what it achieved, go back to the people who shared, asked for help on your behalf – and let them know how it went, lent them know their support is appreciated – next time you might find you have people knocking on your door asking how they can help. Wouldn’t it be great if half the work toward your next event was already in-train before you even start?  


When is your next event – will you have a social media plan in place to help make it easier for you? 

Have you already used social media to help with an event? 

Please share your experiences.



We can’t talk about it

After a recent discussion with an organisation who is staging an event to raise funds for a community group I got to thinking about their silence in not talking about the event – their fear was that it’s a ‘private event’ and can’t have every Tom-Dick-or-Harry turning up.

Hello – you should talk about what you’re doing, what you’re able to do for others; you might get others knocking on your door asking you to help them.

Have you ever seen a company say  “we can’t promote ourselves, our products, we don’t want new customers”. So why would an organisation helping non-profits (charities) be in this mind-set? 

Perhaps they have their blinkers on and don’t realise that there could be others who would like to get involved – sponsors, donors, volunteers – the list could go on. 

If you’re an organisation organising a ‘closed door’ event you could be doing yourself a disservice by not letting the wider community know what you’re doing – others DO want to know what you’re doing and what you’re CAPABLE of doing. 

Don’t be so short-sighted in your thinking, maybe this event is limited to who can attend, but other events you hold may not be – and by shutting others out now what you’re doing could close the door on future opportunities. 

Talk about what you’re doing – put it on your website, your Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other ‘outposts’ – blow your own trumpet. 

To only talk about it at the end will do you no justice, maybe if you talk about it before it happens you will gain media attention you may not have been able to gain before. It’s a win for you and the organisation you’re staging the event for. 

Talk about the event on Facebook, Twitter – talk about it – email your supporters, talk to media – get the message out there, don’t keep it under the radar. 

I want to hear from organisations who feel they can’t talk about their events for fear of getting too much attention, I want to know why – why are you afraid of gaining added support, added attention – anything you talk about your event and the extra attention it gains is surely a benefit, why would you shy away from this? 

Do you do events that are closed and you don’t want people other that participants knowing about – why?

Why do businesses sponsor events

Why do people sponsor charitable events, are they doing it out of the goodness of their heart or is there more to it?

Surely sponsoring a charity event is a ‘business decision’ before being a philanthropic one – ask an accountant what they think about it, those I’ve spoken with have said – when clients talk about sponsoring events we ask them does it fit the business, does the opportunity to ‘invest’ show signs that there will be gains?’.

So I’m taking it that – yes, sponsorship is business first.

When you offer a sponsorship opportunity maybe you’re best talking as it being a ‘business investment’ might get you further. Perhaps talking about where their name will be seen, the reach your promotional campaign will have, will have more impact on them than simply talking about how their contribution to the event will be blah blah.

I’m not saying leave the ‘mush’ at the door, you need to give your story – what I’m saying is that when seeking sponsorship look it with a different set of eyes; use different language than you probably would in other ‘donor requests’.

Remember too, that sponsors become ‘partners’ in the event and, you need to take their wishes into consideration if you want to ‘win them over’; if they want XYZ above what you can offer them, look to see if there’s a way you can deliver or at least come to a compromise – it’s business after all, so expect to negotiate.