Late last year, I decided that I would organise a fundraiser event for a charity I have been personally involved with the past 3 years. This charity is called Canteen and they help support young people (like myself and my siblings) who live with cancer in our lives.
We first became members back in 2012 after the loss of our dad to cancer, and they have been a huge support to me while I have been on my own cancer journey. So I wanted to do something to show my appreciation and have a bit of fun, and that was to host a Halloween themed high tea!
The turn out was great, so many dressed up and we raised a total of $1200!
To the attending guests they thought the event ran smoothly, but for me I realised so many things I could have done differently and I thought I would share these with you all. To see the full page of the event sponsors and images courtesy of the professional photographer who donated his time to run our photo booth, click here now.
10 mistakes to avoid when hosting a fundraising event
One of the decorated tables, the venue loaned me their candelabras for the event use
#1. Give yourself plenty of time to organise it
I only decided less than 4 weeks before the event took place that I was going to organise it. It was rather stressful trying to secure a venue, organise ticket sales, promote the event, organise donations and the works. If I were to host another event I would start organising at least 4-6 months ahead of time to allow for plenty of publicity and support to be engaged.
#2. Have a committee or team to help you
If it weren't for a couple of friends stepping forward to help me, I know my event wouldn't of been the same. I was in and out of being in hospital (one of the downfalls of being chronically sick) and was still trying to organise the fundraiser. One friend had a lot of connections within the community and helped to establish a lot of the donations and support from local businesses as well as organising a stall at the local market to help sell more tickets, and my other friend helped me to also arrange donations from businesses but also was a life saver on the day helping me to set up as well as selling raffle tickets for me on the day.
If I were to do an event again I would seek out those who want to help and delegate to them a job/task they can do and have regular meetings just so everyone can touch base with how they are going and hear how the event is coming along so far.
#3. Always have an authority to fundraise from the charity
This one is a given, and while I had the authority to fundraise from the start of organising the event, it is something I wanted to add here as it is crucial to your event. Not only does the authority to fundraise add legitimacy to your event, but it also shows that you are authorised to act on behalf of the charity to collect goods and is a legal requirement.
I gave a copy to each of my friends that helped me to arrange donations as well as having a copy available when I did the market stall to promote the event.
The lolly buffet.. was a HUGE hit
#4. Make sure your phone is charged
On the day when I left the venue an hour before it started, my phone was fully charged. Then half way through the event my phone died and I had no charger and it made life rather difficult as I had things stored on my phone that was imperitive to the afternoon running smoothly! I wasn't expecting so many people to get lost and ring me requiring directions. Next time I will bring a phone charger as back up, but importantly would have everything I need in a hard copy.
#5. Get an MC
While I am no public speaker and I felt rather intimitated standing up being the MC for the event, it was also rather difficult to host the event be the MC as well as doing the errands I needed to do... all at the same time! I think next time I would enlist the help of someone to specifically be the MC to help the event run smoothly and allow me to focus my attention on the running of the event.
#6. Time management
I didn't anticipate how fast time flies by when you're having fun, and the event ended up going over by an additional 30-45 minutes! A big part of it was my phone dying and having to think on my feet what I could do to replace the lost technology, and also trying to MC as well as running the event. But even time management leading up to the event is important as I was up all hours the night before finalising things and all the morning in the lead up to the event too, which made me run late and not on time. So time management is a must!
#7. Find monetary sponsors for the event
If there is a business that is unable to donate goods towards a raffle or auction item, ask if they might like to sponsor the event with money to help you cover running costs. I didn't think of this until after the event and ended up using $500 of my own money to ensure the event ran smoothly. This was things like the photo booth props and backdrop, the lolly buffet, the jars for the lolly buffet, the bags for the goody bags, printing of the tickets, printing of signage/shirts/flyers to promote the event, decorations for the event and more!
#8. Don't forget to thank your sponsors or supporters
I wanted to do something fun but simple to show my support to those who helped out the event, and I did this by designing a postcard that said "thanks a latte for your support" and it was an image of a takeaway coffee cup with a cuppacino sticking out top, with a message on the reverse saying how appreciative I was of their donation or support and let them know that $1200 was raised. These were handed out in person where possible as well as posted out.
These are my cup of thanks I gifted to the sponsors
#9. Get the support of local media behind your event
If you plan early enough you might be able to get a story run in your local paper to help boost ticket sales. I wished I had of gotten a story in the paper but I was lucky to get an editorial mention in a local magazine as well as in the upcoming events section of the local newspaper. But if your event has a special meaning behind you organising it than by all means sell your why behind the event in hopes of getting media attention. My "why" was because of being a Canteen member myself I know firsthand the benefits of the programs and rec days and counselling provided, canteen have helped me so much on my own journey I only wanted to try and give back.
The media editorial mention
#10. To save costs do as much DIY as possible, trust me it can still look awesome!
I wanted to add my own touch on the event so I purchased plain calico drawstring bags (like santa sacks) and with the enlisted help of my teen sisters we painted stenciled images (I also cut and designed myself) onto each bag. These turned out pretty cool and were fun to do.
I also made the trophy to be awarded to the best dressed, which I found some plastic couldrons and plastic mouldable skeletons and created a funky trophy.
I also used the plastic cauldrons to make little gifts of lollies for those who would win the group trivia games.
So if you're wanting to host a fundraising event, I highly recommend it! I still have people telling me over a year later how much fun they had and even on the day I had people asking when the next event would be held. I had hoped to run it again this year as an annual thing but I have been too sick to do it this year and especially undergoing chemo it was just too much pressure I was putting on myself and hope that one day when my health returns and I am in a better position I will host an event again.