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Charity Ball Event

Make your Charity Ball Event a rip-roaring success!

 

Organising a charity fundraising ball can be a daunting prospect. But with careful planning and team work this fundraising event will be an excellent achievement and a truly fun and satisfying occasion. A charity ball needs a chief organiser who is committed, passionate about the cause, blessed with some organisation muscle and up for a challenge. If you fit the bill then read on for some tips about organising a charity ball.

Planning and Organizing a Charity Ball Fundraising Event

Planning should begin with a small list of overall aims for your Charity Ball event. Don’t lose sight of them as the process develops and potentially gets chaotic. These could include:

  • Raising as many funds as possible for your non-profit/charity
  • Improving the profile of your charity.
  • Giving all attendees an occasion to remember.
  • Putting on an event that offers value for money.

Determining your target market and the income/expenditure expectations around them is perhaps the most critical decision in your leading role. That in itself might determine the success of the whole fundraising exercise, including ticket pricing and ultimately the amount raised on the night.

It is best if your financial fundraising goal is a definite amount. Even if you do not reach it, everyone will have something to strive for. Setting a fundraising goal helps all involved focus on the work needed to meet it.

Organising a non-profit event is a lot of hard work for one person and so it is vital to gather some friends together to help share the load. Their designated duties could include:

  • Selling tickets.
  • Obtaining sponsors for venue hire, free food and drink etc.
  • Acting as the charity ball MC or raffle caller.
  • Sourcing prizes from local businesses.
  • Acting as auctioneer, unless you opt for a silent auction.

Decide on a Date

The next decision should be when the ball will take place. Ideally, pinpoint a date when most of the target audience is available and might like to attend. It is therefore vital to avoid choosing a date which clashes with a major sporting event, a well supported local event or school holidays.

The date should also be far enough into the future to allow you sufficient time to organise the event properly. You do not want to be rushing around in blind panic on the day. A recommended preparation period for a charity ball is 4 to 6 months.

Choosing a Venue for your Charity Ball Fundraising Event

The key to choosing the right venue is to be realistic. Match your target audience’s expectations but do not overstretch. Remember, your main objective is to hold a charity fundraising ball which everyone enjoys and also raises the most money after expenses.

Any criteria for your venue which are ‘must-haves’ should be listed. And by using your organising committee’s local knowledge and perhaps a short web-search, you can draw up a ranked short list quite quickly.

When contacting potential venues you should always try to leverage your event’s non-profit, fundraising intentions to secure free or discounted rates. Town halls, museums and other public places like community centres and village halls may be viable in addition to hotels.

When visiting potential venues, find out the following:

  • is its location in a central or easily accessible place?
  • when you see the space, can you imagine having a whale of a time there?
  • if you don’t sell as many tickets as you hope what cancellation terms might be
  • agreed?
  • is there a dance floor and will it be big enough?
  • are there any hidden extra charges like insurances or outlandish damage penalties?
  • is access and the set-up/break-down periods acceptable?
  • is the room layout and ceiling height conducive to the table/seating arrangements and type of entertainment you wish to provide?
  • does the venue allow outside caterers to provide their services for your event. This can often save on food and beverage expensed, so always be sure to check catering options with your venue beforehand. Whether you are using outside caterers or in-house caterers ask to see all menu options and do not be afraid to negotiate costs.
  • Can the venue offer assistance with other amenities such as kitchen access, furniture provision, cloakroom etc.?

It’s a lot to remember so refer to this checklist frequently.

To Theme your Charity Ball or not?

Entertainment is key to the success of a charity ball. Consider a package that complements your theme. Set aside time to hunt for competitive rates for bands, comedians, dancers, speakers, etc. It is good to introduce a variety of entertainment but do try to make sure that it all ties in well together. And, of course, make sure you have it tightly budgeted, acts can be expensive unless you can get their support for your non-profit thrown in.

A strong ‘Theme’ for your charity ball can really help to create that element of fun that all fundraising events strive for. Giving your event a theme helps lend itself to co-ordinated promotions, publicity, colour theme and type of entertainment.

If your venue is a hotel it’s worth asking if they can lend you any decorations from previous events held there. Always look for items that can be donated for your charity ball before you begin hiring!

Tickets Sales and Donations

Ticket prices go hand-in-hand with your target audience, the venue you have hired, the entertainment you book and the catering on offer. There is no reason to overprice your ticket in the name of ‘charity’ – commercial events make money without that and base their ticket price on the value perceived. So your price variation may be anything between £5 and £50. Know where your break-even point is on ticket sales (tickets sold x price =total expenditure) and you can be happy everything above that and raised on the night is going to be valuable funds raised for your charitable cause.

Ensure you include in your promotional material what the ticket price entails. Number each ticket. Be prepared to print off extra tickets to replace lost or damaged ones. Try to sell as many tickets in advance as possible.

NetprintNFP offers tickets as part of the Charity Ball fundraising kit.

Your attendees will likely be spending a lot of money during the night on drinks, raffles, a silent auction etc. If they wish they are still free to donate more in your collection tins.

Food and Drink

You can keep catering costs down by providing a limited selection that pleases as many people as possible. Chicken and salmon are popular mass catering choices and it is important to always have a vegetarian option.

Some complementary drinks is a nice touch but you will need the support of a local business, such as a wine merchant, to sponsor the event. Free welcome drinks and wine for the tables would be an excellent outcome.

Prizes

Holding auctions and raffles are a great way to generate charity funds on the night. Prizes Donated items and services (meal for two!) by local businesses in return for some publicity can provide some superb prizes. And friends of your non-profit should also be a rich picking ground. It can also be fun and charitable to encourage non-materialistic prizes that have no specific value. For example, someone could offer their skills as a cook, beauty therapist or perhaps a week in their holiday home.

Sponsorship

Finally, consider obtaining sponsors for your Charity Ball fundraising event. This money might also be crucial in providing advance monies for deposits and promotional outlays. In return you can offer your sponsors a number of benefits. Their name and logo on the programmes, tickets, displays on the day, donating items for the goody bags to having representative as speakers. By recruiting sponsors wisely you will maximize the value of ticket sales as profit. You may also benefit in the long term from a significant supporter for your cause in the local community.

So get in touch with local businesses and offer advertising space on your programmes, tickets, displays and goody bags.

Ask everyone you know to sponsor you.

Make sure everyone knows your target and the positive impact their donation will allow your non-profit to achieve.

Request a generous amount first but offer different sponsorship ‘packages’.

Do your own employers offer a matched giving scheme – so doubling your total?

NetprintNFP offers further advice for event organisers.

Go to Event Organisation – The Important Stuff . A very quick summary is below.

  • Work out a budget
  • Your aim is simply to maximize revenue and minimize expenditure.
  • Your costs may include postage, printing, photocopying, equipment, catering and hire charges. Try to get individuals or local businesses to donate the things you need.
  • Your income might include ticket/entry fees, sponsorship, donations, raffles, auctions, advertising and sale of goods and refreshments.
  • Just make sure that your expected income is much higher than your costs!

Spread the word

How are you going to bring your target group to attend your charity ball?

This might include invitations, posters, use of social networking sites, intranets, notice boards in office & community spaces and advertisements or PR coverage in your local paper.

Use NetPrint NFP to create all the printed materials you will need to make your event a success.

When you produce leaflets, booking forms, flyers, posters or invitation cards make sure all the information an attendee may need is clearly displayed. Information regarding venue, timings, and entertainment is, of course, crucial.

But your charity’s work and any special features should be included wherever possible. For example, it’s a great idea to include a specific, positive impact that participation at the charity ball will help achieve e.g. “your attendance will help us deliver an extra 200 water purification kits this month”.

The standard of promotion materials must reflect the type of event you will be staging and for which you are asking your ticket price. You can also use NetPrint to create the raffle tickets, menus, place cards, programmes, event tickets, display boards and thank you cards.

Start here with your Charity Ball fundraising kit.

And don't forget to review Event Organisation - The Important Stuff, NetprintNFP's generic guide to running a venue based fundraising event.