In March of 2010 the Wheatley family organized the first in a series of Annual Memorial Charity Poker Events. They share their insight and offer simple advice in the planning of a successful fundraising event.
RECRUIT THE HELP OF A FEW FRIENDS… colleagues, or close relatives. Don’t assume you have to go at it alone. A charity event is not intended to be stressful…but rather relaxing, fun, and memorable. If the organizing of the event becomes to burdensome or overwhelming, you are less likely to repeat it. With the help of a few friends, it really can be a great experience! Establish an event “leader.” If you are not the leader, pick someone.
BRAINSTORM… about a charity fund-raising idea that interests you! There are lots of ideas out there, but the key is to pick something you have interest in…something you can enjoy not only to organize…but to be a part of! Example, if you like walking/exercising/running, organizing a very basic 5k walk/run may be a great idea. The more interested you are in the content of the event, the more likely you are to not become overwhelmed or stressed. Enlist your “helpers” to assist you in brainstorming.
USE ONLINE RESOURCES… to help you in creating a charity event idea! Some example ideas include…5k run/walk, softball or other athletic game, poker event, golf outing, bike or motorcycle ride, etc. Participants will pay to “enter,” with all proceeds benefiting the charity. Use donations for food and beverages or prizes. Be sure to give participants GOOD VALUE for their money or donation – so that they become repeat customers. At the event, be sure to capture all participants email addresses, so that they can be thanked and contacted for future events.
ESTABLISH A FIRM EVENT DATE… and stick with it. Make the date several months into the future. Include a timeline from today all the way through the event. On the timeline, list key dates – deadlines – when you are going to send notices – etc. Staying organized is BIG! Keep the event date the same every year, if it is an annual event.
CREATE A LIST… After brainstorming and coming up with your idea, create a list (checklist) of things you will need…including things such as… hall rental/park rental/facilities needed – food needed – beverages needed – shirts/prizes/etc – invitations/flyers – possible participant list – donations needed – how much money needed? – estimate of people who may participate?
DO NOT BE AFRAID TO ASK FOR DONATIONS… from individuals or companies. You will find that most will be more than willing to give or donate towards the event. Be sure to incorporate the donation(s) into the event. This makes the event much more cost-effective! This could be something to give out to participants, money, gift cards, or even a donation to the charity! Just remember to ask and allow plenty of time. It often takes a couple months for private companies to donate something.
SEND COMMUNICATION IN PLENTY OF TIME… typically 2-3 months prior to the event. After setting the event date, create a flyer to send out. Be sure to list the dates, times, event details, cost, and the cause. Use email and social networks – i.e. twitter, facebook!!! Email is an incredibly efficient and effective way to send communications. You will find that recipients will forward your email and “spread the word.” Send another courtesy reminder 1 to 2 weeks out. Keep the communication straight-forward and simple. Make it easy for people to attend! Make them want to attend. Be catchy and “market” your event accordingly. Be sure to provide contact numbers.
KEEP IT SIMPLE… This is the big one. Once you have your idea, dates, etc. – you’ll want to stay organized and keep the entire process simple. Follow your timeline and list(s). Remember, the larger or more complex the event…the more help you WILL need from others.