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How to organise a fundraising event for charity

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This is a somewhat 'cover all' title and understandably might seem confusing since it isn't focused towards a particular type of charity event. This guide is more suited towards creating small-scale community events (e.g. cake sales, sponsored walks etc.) than putting on a major event. Most of these major events (e.g. shows in West End Theatres, Events at Wembley or TV appeals) are managed by larger companies with higher public liability insurance, good networking opportunities and contacts, and links to big name people and institutions. Should you choose to get involved in something of this calibre this guide will be far too simple for your needs, and you'll be working at a higher level. There is no reason that starting small should be looked down upon however, nor does it mean that smaller, community based events aren't worthy or capable of raising significant amounts of money. So, if you've got a hankering to help a charity, here's an easy to follow guide to getting your event organised!
What you'll need: 
A Charity of choice
A plan of action for your event
Dedicated people to help you
Passion and commitment to see your project through
A get up and go attitude
Ability to work on a shoe string budget
1: 
CHOOSE YOUR CHARITY: Obviously this is the centre point of your entire event. What charity are you raising money for? Make sure you choose a specific, registered charity although it's totally your choice whether you pick one of the mainstream ones or a smaller, less well known cause.
2: 
CHOOSE YOUR EVENT: Perhaps your chosen charity has an event that naturally compliments it? (eg. A readathon to help literary charities.) It's a good way to really express what you're trying to do and why you're doing it. Otherwise, there are a whole host of more generic tried and tested events to choose from. Everyone likes a cake sale with delicious homemade cakes which make raising money tasty, perhaps a themed dinner party where everyone pays to join in or even a sponsored silence. There are endless lists of ideas all over the internet, so take a look to give you inspiration.
3: 
REFINE YOUR EVENT: So, having chosen your event type, you need to actually decide what is going to happen and when. You'll do this by quite simply sitting down and writing (or typing) a very clear plan combining a to-do list and a timetable. If you're planning a dinner party you need to decide how many people you'll want, what kind of venue you'll need, how you'll cover the costs and what people will pay for the meal. If you're doing a sponsored silence you'll need to decide on a date and time for it to occur, how it'll be judged or kept track off and whether you'll be using an online sponsoring website. You need to include as many aspects as possible in this outline- how many participants you'll have, how sponsorship will be gained, where you'll be holding your event, where you're likely to find the most responsive audience/participants/charity supporters etc.
4: 
CONTACT YOUR CHARITY: The best decision you can possibly make during this process of organising an event is contacting the charity you're working for. They will be thrilled to hear from you and will normally offer you help. Their websites can be wonderful sources of information with downloadable attachments, documents and logos. You'll be able to find all sorts of important details like the charity's registered number, email addresses of people who can contact and what events other people are holding. In some cases you'll be offered a personal representative who will contact you by phone and email as often as you need them to and help guide you through the process. Make sure that you ask the charity for an official letter to confirm you are doing a fundraising event for them. This can come in useful in your negotiations for venues etc.
5: 
WORK ON A SHOE STRING BUDGET: If you're arranging an event where all profits go to charity or even all money raised full stop, the last thing you want to do is spend excess money or leave yourself out of pocket. Wherever you can get something for cheap or free make sure you do so, and be prepared to negotiate as much as possible. Most companies are happy to offer free services, prizes for raffles, advertising etc. in return for your linking their company's name in conjunction with the cause you're supporting. You'll be surprised at the amount of things you can get for free in the name of charity just by putting your feelers out a little bit.
6: 
HAVE A GOOD TEAM AROUND YOU: Again, when working with a tiny budget, it's best to surround yourself with people who are willing to work hard and for free all in the name of a good cause. People who are passionate about the project will market it better, express the importance of supporting it better and -all in all- make the experience more enjoyable to work on and more successful in it's overall aims. As the recent Celebrity Stand Up for Comic Relief demonstrates, the chance to raise money for others less fortunate than ourselves often compels people to put themselves on the line in a way they wouldn't normally do. So don't be shy about asking for help, you'll be surprised to find that many people really do want to be a part of something good.
7: 
WORK HARD AND GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY: Once you've set up your event plan and contacted your charity, you'll have set the wheels in motion and you must follow it through to the end. Once you've promised to fundraise for a charity you must be willing to work hard and muck in wherever necessary to make sure the event goes ahead and is successful. You might resent having to work extra hours in addition to your normal routine of school or work, but keep in mind the reason you're holding this event and keep to your individually set deadlines.
8: 
MARKET, MARKET, MARKET: Although you may expect your participants, audiences, sponsors etc. to be people you know, attracted through word of mouth and goodwill, you may also want to see how many other people you can attract. Creating and displaying posters and flyers around your local area -and perhaps even around hospitals that might deal with your specific charity- is a good start. Your chosen charity might be willing to include it on their website or on their newsletter or you might want to use wordpress to create a free website to promote the event. Contact local schools and businesses and try to get a mention in their newsletters, and don't forget to phone your local papers and radio stations to see if they want to give you a mention. Start your advertising as far as possible in advance and keep your campaign steady and constant.
9: 
FINALLY: So long as you keep the impetus going and keep everything running as close as possible to schedule, you should now have a satisfying and successful fundraising event on your hands. Please do do everything you can to enjoy the experience and make it a pleasurable one for everyone involved!
Conclusion: 
Charity events are good fun to put on, maybe hard work to bring all the loose ends together but ultimately satisfying and good natured. Do all you can to fulfill your main aim: raising as much money as possible, but try to make sure you and everyone else enjoys the experience and relishes the opportunity to raise money for charity.

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