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How to Run a Charity Ball Fundraiser

Hosting a charity ball fundraiser is a fantastic and fun way to raise funds, giving your current and future supporters a chance to get glammed up, enjoy fine food and wines, dance to some great music and generally thoroughly enjoy themselves whilst raising money for those in need. Here are our tips for organising a successful charity ball fundraiser.

Possible Themes:

  • Masquerade
  • Tribute Night
  • Casino
  • Gatsby
  • Black Tie

Planning

These types of event are rarely small, so it takes a lot of forward planning and attention to detail to pull it off – All the hard work is so worth it though, when the fundraising target is hit!

First, organise a committee.

Gather a team of experienced and willing volunteers who have the time and skills to really help make your event a success. At the first meeting, delegate all tasks to the best people for the job, and give timescales so that everyone knows when their tasks need to be completed.

Secondly, choose a date.

The obvious might seem to go for a Friday or Saturday, which definitely are worth considering depending on the venue you can secure. If, however, you struggle to secure a charity rate (or free!) venue, it might be sensible to think about if a Thursday might work. This day would be less in demand, and you would be more likely to negotiate a good rate for room hire.

Make sure to check that you don’t choose a date of another local event, or the day of a big sports match that people might want to go and watch ie. England playing in the World Cup or Andy Murray in the last Wimbledon final of his tennis career!
Leave yourself plenty of time to plan. Bear in mind that hotels start organising their Christmas parties during the Summer months so a good 6 months of planning (at least) will mean nothing is rushed and everything it taken care of in plenty of time. It also allows people to keep the date clear in their diary.

Have a couple of back-up dates just in case, so that you can be flexible when it comes to booking the venue.

Third, secure the Venue.

This needs to be the first job completed once you’ve chosen your date. The venue will dictate how many people can attend, and how much tickets need to cost. Once you have this finalised, everything else can fall into place.

If you go for a hotel or similar, then you will likely have to pay a fee. Some venues may offer a charity rate if the date is not a popular one, or they can give you a smaller capacity room. However, if you can’t negotiate a rate that will work for your charity budget then you could consider less sought after venues like village halls or community centres, that may be willing to offer their hall free of charge or for a reduced fee. Do bear in mind though, that these venues may need more ‘dressing’ or even chair/table hire so these are things you will need to take into consideration and weigh up the options.

Publicity

This is really the key to selling all of your tickets.

Local radio stations and newspapers are likely to want to help you publicise your event – Perhaps even without charging a fee.

Make sure that you are communicating the funding need that your fundraising event is addressing (who or what for) and then why people should attend your event. Remember you are asking for their money, so make sure it’s obvious how their cash is going to help your cause.

You could even think of a tagline that links with your theme!

The key word is ‘because’. Research has shown that this simple little word subconsciously triggers the brain to justify a positive response to a request. Team your ‘because’ with the strongest reason and you should have a pretty convincing statement to encourage people to attend your event.

For example, ‘Can you help us raise vital funds for {the British Heart Foundation}? We need your help because {they are funding such vital research to protect yours and your loved ones hearts, preventing devastating losses for so many families}. We’re not asking for sponsored sky dives or lengthy marathons – Just the purchase of a ticket to our ball! Come along with your better half and dance the night away, all whilst raising money for a fantastic cause without a sponsor form in sight.

Write a press release and publicise your event by reaching out to all your local media outlets. Send an email and follow it up with a call. Be direct – Find out names and send emails and address calls to this person by name.

Handy contacts…
The press – city editor
Radio stations – station manager
TV stations – production manager

Entertainment

This will go hand-in-hand with whatever theme you’ve chosen. So if it’s Casino, then you’ll need the casino tables plus the people to go with them. If it’s a tribute night, then you’ll need the tribute act.

Masquerade or Black Tie balls will still need a band or a DJ. You could ask a local radio station if one of their DJ’s will come and compere for you, or perhaps a local band would play for free or a reduced fee in exchange for some joint publicity or just for the cause itself!

You could even have fire breathers in the entrance as people arrive to liven everyone up as they come in and get them in the mood for a fantastic evening! Team up with a magician doing slight-of-hand tricks as people enjoy reception drinks or at the tables while they are waiting for food.

There is also scope for a photographer – This could be candid photos throughout the night, or a set-up where people can go and have their photo taken.

If you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t be afraid to ask people for their services for free or at a reduced rate. The point of your event is to raise as much money as possible, so the more you can save on the entertainment, the more you can put straight into the fundraising pot.

Fundraising

So this is the most important bit!

Let’s start with the tickets. Sell tickets that include food, wine on the table, and the entertainment.

The rest of the money you will raise on the night itself.

The big money is going to come from silent auctions. Make the auction as noticeable and attention grabbing as possible, with all the details in high traffic areas like the entrance way or by the bar. Also make the process for bidding as easy as possible.

You could also do a live auction. If you can get brilliant items worthy of high bidding, then there will be no stopping people – Guests will want to show off their generosity as well as the thrill of winning.

Again, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Set the sky as the limit – Ask big companies, small local businesses, celebrities, there is really no harm in asking! The better the auction items, the higher the bids, and the more money raised.

Have a cash bar and where possible, see if you can get the beer kegs, bottles of wine, spirits etc donated from local businesses. If it’s not possible to run a bar from the donations, then you could have a bottle sale on the night, if the venue allows this.

We also spoke earlier about a photographer. All photos taken of the guests could be viewed and bought after the event, or even on the night itself, with a percentage of the money going to your charity pot.

Make it an Annual Thing

It really goes without saying that the more fun your ball is, the more successful it will be. And if the first one goes without a hitch, then there’s no reason why you couldn’t make it a yearly thing.

Word of mouth is a powerful thing – Once word gets out about how much fun guests had, you’ll see the tickets selling out quicker and the venue getting bigger each time.

Hopefully this article will have got you donning your thinking caps and the creative juices are flowing, ready for your charity event to be a huge success!