Some ideas and tips for charity and fundraising events

10th January 2022

Firstly, well done to you for being involved in a charity or fundraising event. It likely means that you are giving up your own time to help someone or something other than yourself, so remember that you’re already generous by doing that.

In terms of raising money, it will depend on what you are organising as to how much you will raise. Smaller activities or events such as raffles and tombolas are likely to raise around £100 to £500 depending on the prizes and larger events such as auctions and ticketed events could raise thousands of pounds. Below are some ideas with a few pieces of advice along the way, starting with the simple and small fundraisers to larger events.


• Raffle/Tombola – Quite similar to each other, but both involve prizes that can be won by purchasing tickets (usually around 50p-£1.00 per ticket or a discounted price for buying say 5 or 10).
For a raffle, you would advertise the prizes and sell raffle tickets in advance of a draw. You would put all tickets into a bucket or drum and draw a ticket at random per prize. The entrant with the matching ticket wins the prize.
For a tombola, you match each prize with a ticket (usually those ending in 0 or 5) in advance, put all draw tickets into a bucket or drum and entrants would purchase tickets. If they draw one that matches a ticket on a prize, they then win that prize.

Either way, getting people to donate the prizes is a great start. Having one or two larger prizes is nice to draw people in, but you want to make sure you have at least 20 prizes to make people see it is worth entering. Some smaller prizes such as sweets and chocolate are always cheap and easy to buy and you can always cover the cost from some ticket sales. Make sure you include prizes that your targeted entrants will actually want to win.
If you can, print some letters with information about your cause to distribute to local shops and supermarkets. Many will have a community champion who are permitted to donate prizes for such event, and some are encouraged to support local charities.


• Auction – Similarly to the above, you would try to arrange some items to be donated that people can bid to win or you can purchase some items that you would pay for using some of the money raised. You would advertise what is available to bid for in advance so that entrants can prepare for what they would spend. There are a couple of different methods for the auction itself.
A traditional auction is live and people bid when the item comes up as to how much they are willing to pay. Entrants can outbid others if they wish and then the highest bidder wins the item and pays the money.
A silent auction, entrants write on a piece of paper with their name/number on with how much they are willing to pay for an item and place it into a sealed container. An independent person then checks all bids and the highest bidder purchases the item for their stipulated amount.
A Dutch auction is when entrants bid as per a traditional auction, but actually put that amount of money into a pot. Whoever puts the highest and final bid in, wins the item and you have raised the amount that was bid in total. This would tend to be for a novelty or rare item that doesn’t have a standard price.
A promise auction is where instead of physical items, people promise some goods or a service, such as a night of babysitting, to wash someone’s car etc. You would need to verify that all of your promisers are true to their word or you might need a form of contract to obligate them.


• Bake sale or coffee morning – By getting people to home-bake or purchase cakes and treats, you can put on a social event with sweet treats, hot drinks, soft drinks etc. for very little cost. This is a great idea if you are looking at dozens of people rather than hundreds.

Price the items individually, do a drink and snack deal for them to enjoy at the event or even give people the option to help themselves and donate what they feel appropriate. You’d be surprised at how many people round up when it is for charity! Make sure you have some takeaway cups and boxes in case anyone wants to grab and go, or take some treats home.


• Bucket shake – Very little organising involved in this one, but using charity buckets and choosing a venue wisely, you can collect loose change from people as they pass you. One of my favourites is to wear fancy dress and go around the local pubs at Christmas time. People tend to feel charitable at this time of year and after a couple of drinks. Make sure you read below regarding permissions.


• Offering a service – Car washes, exercise classes and carol singing are just a few of the ideas which offer a service in exchange for donations or a set fee. Include some fancy dress or silly costumes and people will be happy to donate to your cause and receive something of value or that they enjoy in return.


• Fete, fair or market stall event – One that takes a little more organisation, but very rewarding is to gather local suppliers and/or vendors who can set up a stall at your event and then sell their products to the attendees. You can agree to take a small percentage of their takings or just a set site fee to raise your funds. You could have a refreshments stand and even a raffle as well in the same event (see above). Just make sure that you have read about licensing below.


• Individual sponsored activities – Think about sponsored walks, exercise challenges or even extreme activities. Get a group of volunteers to challenge themselves with a one-off activity such as skydiving or a tough mudder, or challenge themselves with something for a week/month in aid of your cause. Ask them to set up their own fundraiser on Facebook and put it out to their friends and family. You’d be surprised how quickly individual sponsors build up to the hundreds through the power of social media and how those individual totals soon amount to thousands!


• Large ticketed events – Fundraising gala balls and theme nights are popular options as larger events. Obviously these take a bit of time to organise and often cost money to put on to begin with, but hopefully ticket sales more than cover the cost and then raise funds for your cause. You can then look to include some of the options above as part of the event. Everyone loves a raffle or auction. Put out some charity buckets for loose change and have some volunteers nip round the bar once in a while with them.


With any of the above suggestions, there are a few areas to be careful with, so please do your research and make sure your event is all above board.
You might need to think about getting a licence or specific insurance for certain events.  If you plan to serve or sell alcohol and have any amplified entertainment, you may require a Temporary Event Notice (TEN) which you can apply for via your local council. If you are dealing with the general public, you are likely to need public liability insurance, available from most brokers.

Some venues may require a risk assessment and you need to ensure that you have the correct permissions for anywhere that you intend to fundraise. Some charities will have a health and safety officer who can provide a risk assessment for you, or you might need to write your own to show that you have considered all potential risks and put measures in place to make your event safe.

You might want to invest in some help from a professional, to ensure that your fundraising event is a total success, so browse our event planners in the Party Pages directory or Ask Party Pages if you need some recommendations.

Good luck!

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