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How to organise a charity event – a beginner’s guide

Read on for our simple guide to organising your first charity event – where we cover all the basics you need to know to make a success of it.

a person holding a pink flag

Organising your first charity event can feel quite daunting – not only are you trying to create an experience people will enjoy, you’ve got the added pressure of raising money for a cause that really needs it. Don’t panic though! The fact you’ve decided to commit your time and energy to doing a great deed means you’re already doing pretty well. 

And things don’t need to get that complicated, anyway. Just be sure to break down your planning into small, manageable chunks, and start small if you’re feeling unsure so things don’t feel too unrealistic. 

Read on for our simple guide to organising your first charity event – where we cover all the basics you need to know to make a success of it. Let’s go 👇. 

The basics: goals, budget, cause

First things first – set yourself a set of clear objectives:

Goals

You want to raise money, that’s a given. But try to get more granular here – do you want to raise money by a certain date? And how much do you want to raise? (Checking out similar charity events’ fundraising targets can be a good starting point.) 

Also, do you want to raise awareness, and spread a certain message alongside raising money? Defining these factors early on will help to inform the rest of your planning process.

Budget

Setting a budget is crucial in the planning of any event but even more so with fundraisers – as going over your budget means eating into the money you raise for charity. Be realistic, and be as detailed as you possibly can be. Don’t forget to include all aspects of event planning in your costs – from the venue, to your event registration platform, to your marketing efforts. 

Cause

You might already know which charity or cause you want to raise money for. But if you don’t, now’s the time to define this. Once you have an idea of which charity you’re keen to support, reach out to them to let them know you’re planning on organising a fundraiser on their behalf, as they might have some valuable advice for you or may even want to get involved.

a group of people walking under a string of flags

The details: theme, venue, date

Now it’s time to iron out the what, when, where of your charity event:

Theme

There are tons of different types of events that lend themselves well to fundraising, from speed dating to pub quizzes to food and drinks festivals. When deciding what type of event you’re going to put on, think carefully about what would be realistic for you, and what lends itself well to your particular skill set. For example, if you already run craft workshops, running a craft fair could be a great idea for your first charity event. Or, if you love a good night out, organising some sort of disco or black tie ball could be great fun. 

Head here for some of our seasonal charity event ideas >

Venue

Next, it’s time to find an appropriate venue for your event. When researching, be sure to get a detailed breakdown of all costs involved with hiring any venue – as this could be one of your biggest expenses (and therefore the easiest way to go over your budget). 

It’s also important to note that the location of your venue could seriously impact attendance at your event – so try to pick somewhere that’s not too out-the-way, and that’s easy to travel to. Don’t hold back with the creativity, either! There’s nothing to say you have to host your event in a community hall; trying quirky pubs, trendy industrial spots, or even country barns could give attendees all the more reason to attend.

Date

Finally, pick a date and book your venue – just be sure it’s not so close that you don’t have enough time to plan! It’s best to err on the side of caution here, as things can often take longer than you think they will. Plus, it’s a good idea to have some contingency time in case anything goes wrong during planning. Paying attention to any potential event clashes is a wise move, too. If you host your event on the same date as another big happening in your local area (or even nationally – Glastonbury, we’re looking at you), you might not get the turnout you’d like.

The logistics: sponsors, volunteers, donations 

Now it’s time to turn your event from an idea into reality:

Sponsors

Working with sponsors can be a great way to fund your event, meaning you can go even bigger and raise more money for charity. Check out our guide to finding sponsorship for an event for all you need to know. 

If this all feels a bit complicated, though – don’t worry. Charity events don’t necessarily need sponsors, especially smaller or more local ones. Having said that, even small charity events might pique the interest of a local brewery, brand, hotel or other business – so it’s worth investigating!

Volunteers

Enlisting the help of some enthusiastic volunteers to help you run your event is a must if you want to keep your costs down, and things running smoothly. Whether you ask friends and family to help out or do some outreach on social media – it shouldn’t be too hard to build up a dedicated team. Be sure to assign everyone official roles to keep things as efficient as possible, and consider appointing a volunteer lead who can help you manage the team.

a person in a red shirt is taking a picture

Donations

There’s more than one way to accept donations for a charity event – so it’s important to define these in the planning phase. You could sell tickets online prior to your event and pledge all profits to charity. Or you could make your event free entry, and charge people to do certain activities when they're actually there – for example, raffles, auctions and guessing competitions. You could also sell merchandise at your event, sell special charity cocktails, or simply set up donation points all around – the imagination’s the limit, really.

The kick-off: marketing & ticketing!

Finally, it’s time to get the word out about your event, and to set up event registration:

Marketing

How effectively you promote your charity event could make or break it! It’s crucial to give yourself enough time to get the word out, and it’s wise to use more than one channel – for example, TikTok, Instagram, and flyering to reach those who don’t get online much:

Ticketing

If you plan on selling tickets online to your event, or getting people to register their attendance, you’ll need to get set up with a reliable and great value event registration platform. 

Tip: Ticket Tailor is totally free to use for free events, gives you the option to accept donations and the point of ticket sale, and only charges a small flat fee for paid events. This makes us a more affordable alternative to Eventbrite, which charges a percentage of every ticket sale.

Find out more about using Ticket Tailor for charity events > 

We hope this guide has been useful. To raise even more money for your chosen charity, check out our article on cutting down event planning costs without losing attendees. Good luck!

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