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Charity events are the ideal platform to acknowledge acts of everyday bravery and generate vital funds for a worthwhile cause. If you’re thinking about organising this type of occasion, you might be tempted to throw yourself into the process with carefree abandon. How hard can it really be?

Truth be told, it’s pretty challenging. But, if you follow the following insider tips, you can quickly learn how to plan a successful charity event of your own. Here are our eleven steps to fantastic fundraising:

1 – Decide What You Want to Achieve

Understanding how to plan a successful charity event should always start with knowing why you’re doing it in the first place. At this point you should have a clear idea of why you’re raising money and how much you hope to generate. This will give you a clear point of reference when the dust settles and you evaluate how well it went.

Finally, you should also keep in mind who will benefit from the occasion. This will inform your marketing efforts, keeping the most important people at the centre of your promotions and convincing potential donors to part with money for a good cause. 

2 – Spread the Word

It’s important for fundraising event planners to communicate their proposals to internal and external parties. Anyone working on the plan will need to know the overall strategy in order to stay in touch with developments. This will give you a better chance of keeping everyone in sync and working solidly towards the same shared goal.  

If you’re planning a big live event, it makes sense to follow government guidelines and inform local authorities in advance. This will give nearby businesses and residents a chance to think about the potential impact in terms of noise pollution etc. While this isn’t necessary for most occasions, the last thing charity event organisers want is to have the plug pulled when money has already been spent elsewhere. 

3- Set Your Budget

The budget will go a long way towards dictating what you can achieve with your event. However, incomplete — or inaccurate — forecasting will usually lead to a pretty disappointing experience for your guests. Make sure you meet expectations by including everything from event design to venue costs. The key to knowing how to plan a successful charity event often lies in the details.

You can boost your budget through sponsorships and ticket sales, although the latter can be tricky to predict. See if you can get potential donors to commit early on, to make incoming revenue a bit easier to gauge. It can also be really useful to leave a little wiggle room in your budget, just in case unexpected twists and turns take place later in the process. 

4 – Know Your Audience

Even the very best event could fall flat if you haven’t taken the time to think about who the spectacle is aimed at. As an example, imagine you’re fundraising for a charity that has a predominantly older audience. You’ve chosen to intersperse banging music and interactive award nominations with a youthful comedian who has hilarious jokes about the likes of TikTok and online dating. Does this sound like a good match? 

Ultimately, the better a team of fundraising event planners understands its crowd, the easier it will be to tailor the experience to that demographic.

5 – Think About the Logistics

Knowing how to plan a successful charity event feels a lot like keeping a thousand plates spinning. It’s all about logistics and, as we’ve established, your ability to keep an eye on even the most minute details. Here are a few fundamental questions that will give you an insight into just how much terrain you’ll need to cover to make the grade in charitable event production:

  • What is the running order/agenda for the occasion?
  • How will guests pay for things?
  • Have we taken care of licences and permissions?
  • What are the contingency plans for each part of the event?
  • How long will be needed to set up/take down?
  • Who is responsible for this?

Like Russian dolls, you might soon discover that some of these questions quickly give birth to other, equally crucial, questions. If you can answer them all, you’ll be in a great position to deliver an amazing experience!

6 – Decide an Event Theme

A lot of people enjoy supporting worthwhile causes. However, there’s a world of difference between setting up a modest monthly payment and travelling to a distant venue on a wet Wednesday night. Understanding how to plan a successful charity event means viewing your occasion as more than a fundraising exercise — it should be presented as an exciting experience with its own special twist.

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Done right, the theme will influence every aspect of your event, so it pays to give it some serious thought. Popular choices include fashion shows, a night at the casino, regional/country-themes like a Texas rodeo…the options are almost endless.  

7 – Find a Venue

There are a range of practical reasons for committing as much time and money on finding a venue as your budget will allow. These include ensuring that it has all of the amenities and technical capacity that you’ll need. However, choosing a location goes beyond merely meeting your most basic requirements. From an aesthetic perspective, it could be the crown jewel of your occasion.

Charity event organisers will, therefore, need to think about both sides of the coin. In terms of practicalities, you should be able to answer the following:

  • Is it the right size for the number of guests?
  • Is it wheelchair friendly and accessible?
  • Does it fit within the budget?
  • Does it meet the AV requirements?
  • Does the price include catering etc?

Finally, ask yourself if it complements your theme. If the concept is black tie gala, does the venue look plush enough to live up to the elegance that attendees will expect? Fundraising event planners will examine the venue from every angle to make sure that it not only meets expectations but can even surpass them. 

8 – Find Ways to Generate Extra Funds

It stands to reason that the more revenue you can generate, the bigger your budget. This is where generous benefactors come in. After all, sponsoring charity events is a great way for companies to generate goodwill and show the local community that they care.  

When looking for sponsors, it’s often easier to start with businesses you already have a relationship with before casting your net wider. If you believe that further sponsorships are out there waiting to be uncovered, you could check out past charity events to see who contributed, and approach them directly. If you’re asking people to donate at the event itself, make sure that you offer frictionless payment options like QR codes and contactless.

9 – Map Out an Event Timeline 

There are a million and one things to take care of when planning a charity event, so having only a vague idea of what happens when is usually a recipe for disaster. However, if you know what the biggest milestones are, you can start to factor them into your planning. Arranging these milestones into chronological order is the best way to create a planning timeline.

Some people might find it easier to list everything required and work backwards from the occasion. Whatever works for you, make sure that everything from attendance confirmations to entertainment bookings is included. Finally, make sure your deadlines are realistic and include short buffers where possible.

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10 – Market the Event

There’s not much point planning a fundraiser if only a select few people realise it’s taking place. If you know your audience, you should find it easier to decide which marketing channels are most suitable. To help, we’ve listed the main ones for you:

  • Physical marketing, such as posters, flyers, billboards to cast a wider net.
  • Email marketing to target your mailing list and anyone who visits your website.
  • Social media for younger demographics. Don’t forget to encourage people to share your posts and make them as fun and engaging as possible to help with this.

11 – Find Volunteers

Volunteers are the engine that can power an event into the stratosphere. If possible, try to vet your unpaid helpers to make sure that they’re guaranteed to show up and charm your guests. The last thing you want is a last ditch scramble to enlist new recruits because people didn’t turn up.

It might help to turn to anyone who is on your mailing list, or who has taken part in similar events in the past. This will give you a much better chance of having your A-Team in place come the big day.

ConnectIn Events: The No.1 Charity Event Organisers

When we say that we know a thing or two about charity events, it’s no idle boast. Following the success of a decade managing the annual Ric Moylan’s Charity Boxing Nights, we also had the pleasure of delivering the inaugural I Love MCR Awards. These events gave us a chance to stage stunning spectacles that were packed with a mixture of poignant moments and pure entertainment. 

Both occasions offered the perfect platform for us to showcase our comprehensive skills as fundraising event planners. This entailed management of production and sponsors, consistent theme building and event design, script writing, AV and lighting, catering, and more. The net result being a sold out experience that had guests in awe at what they’d just witnessed.

If you’re looking for someone to plan and manage any part of your next event, we’ve got the know-how to make it a modern marvel. Whether you’re an international blue chip or a modest start up, we offer something for everyone. Let’s connect.