If you're investing the time and energy into planning a fundraising event, maximising opportunities to boost the total for your cause is vital.
Charity balls and dinners are widespread so including ideas and activities that add to the fun of the occasion, as well as bringing in extra money, will help yours stand out from the rest and be a huge success.
Here are seven fundraising event ideas:
1. Be creative with your auction
You've put a lot of time and effort into securing great auction items from supporters; ensure you maximise the value of the donated items by booking a professional presenter – someone experienced hosting auctions.
A good event auctioneer will engage the whole audience, make it entertaining for everyone and turning it into a focal point of the evening, encouraging more of your guests to take part in the bidding. A good auctioneer will work with you before the event and be able to advise how to structure the auction.
Sports presenter on BBC Radio 4's 'Today' programme, Garry Richardson, is a highly entertaining host and great auctioneer. And he's hugely popular for both sporting and non-sporting events and audiences.
Be creative with your auction. Incognito Singing Waiters are West End singers masquerading as guests, chefs or waiting staff. Following an 'interruption' during your event, one by one, the performers reveal their true identity through song, exposing the ruse.
Guests then become fully absorbed in the show that unfolds before them as they're made to feel a part of the musical extravaganza. It's an act that will always leave the audience wanting more – so don't just give it to them for free. Let Incognito Singing Waiters start the bidding and 'auction' an encore performance. You may be surprised what income they'll generate for your cause. Don't limit your auction to the printed list! Be creative.
If you've booked a celebrity to host your event, it may be worth asking if they have something they could donate for the auction – perhaps a signed book or DVD. Or if it's a sportsman or sportswoman, a signed football, cricket bat, boxing glove, etc.
2. Host a silent auction
If you've been lucky enough to have plenty of great items donated for your auction, don't include them all in the live auction. You don't want it to take over the whole evening as guests will start to lose interest and you'll compromise the quality of the remaining bids. If you want to gain maximum value on the night, limit the live auction to the highest grossing items, and keep it relatively short.
You can then feature all the other items in a silent auction. Using tablets, guests can bid at their leisure throughout the evening, and you can show the progress on screen, so the audience can still bid against each other.
It's a great way to boost donations on the night and make use of all the donated items. It will leave your guests on a high, whether they grab a bargain or just secure something unusual, and they'll know they've donated to a good cause in the process of bidding.
A silent auction also includes guests who may otherwise feel self-conscious bidding in front of the room.
3. Heads or tails
A lively, energetic and engaging host is key to making this simple idea work for your event. The only other thing you need is a coin.
Before you start the game, have your guests make a donation to take part. Ideally, sell this to them on arrival – or once they're seated for a meal – and provide them with a sticker or something visible to mark them out as having paid to take part.
Either denote a prize for the winner or offer up a percentage of the pot.
Heads or Tails is a great game for early in proceedings as it's so easy to play and great fun.
Having donated to take part, each 'player' stands up and chooses either heads or tails – raising their hand for heads and keeping it lowered for tails, for example. The coin is tossed and those who get it right remain in the game. Everyone else sits down.
Even when there are a lot of players, the game is whittled down to a winner surprisingly quickly and will be over in a few minutes.
4. Book a headline act
In order to raise a lot of money on the night, your first task, long before then, is to generate significant interest in your event and sell tickets! But with so many charity events, balls and dinners vying for attention, how do you cut through all the noise?
One sure-fire way to make your event stand above the crowd is to book a headline act.
You may consider the likes of street-dance group and Britain's Got Talent winners Diversity, who will create a real impact and spectacle on the night. 80s pop star Tony Hadley (pictured above) will get all of your guests dancing to the Spandau hits. Or stand-up comedian and star of I'm a Celebrity, Joel Dommett will have your guests rolling-in-the-aisles.
A celebrity host will also give you a unique selling point when marketing the event, as well as bringing an added energy to the night. Broadcaster, author, former MP and The One Show regular Gyles Brandreth is one of the most popular hosts on the circuit and always gets tremendous feedback.
Booking a celebrity act doesn't necessarily mean paying the biggest fees for current household names – it's about booking the right name who'll appeal to your target audience.
However, whilst you may be raising money for a fantastic cause, don't expect to secure a professional host to attend for free. They're inundated with requests to support charity events and usually select a very few personally-relevant causes to represent. However, as with all other investments for your event, it's a case of speculating to accumulate.
It's also worth noting that very few celebrities or acts, if any, have specific 'charity' rates, but for genuine charity events – hosted by registered charities – many will often take a view and accept a lesser fee than usual.
5. A short video or presentation offering touching insight into the cause
Generally, guests who have bought tickets to your event would at least have some insight into the cause. Although many may be bringing a plus one, who may not be so familiar with your charity. Showing a short video presentation on the night, perhaps highlighting some of the fantastic work you're doing can be a really powerful tool. A video offering a personal story or touching insight into the cause or charity, perhaps explaining how previous year's funding has helped the charity, is a great way to encourage people to make that extra effort with their donations.
Show this relatively early on and certainly before you start asking for donations, or prior to the live auction. Your guests will be spurred on to reach deeper into their pockets if they have been touched by an emotional story and have a better understanding of the cause and the good work your charity is undertaking.
If you're raising money on behalf of a charity, you could also consider approaching the charity to provide a representative to give a short presentation about their work.
6. Add something quirky or unusual, such as a talent show, quiz or awards presentation
Add an unusual twist to your evening with a talent show, quiz or, especially for a work or industry event, an awards presentation.
You could build in a talent show element that guests can take part in. Maybe put up a stunning prize and charge an additional entry fee for the competition.
You could even decide to build the theme of your night around the talent show and book a professional host or guest act to really increase the excitement. Consider someone like contemporary award-winning close-up and stage magician Ben Hart or musical comedian Vikki Stone.
If you are adding a quiz section to the evening, or an awards presentation, make it sparkle with a charismatic quiz master or presenter. And whilst it may seem a novel and fun idea for your Chairman or Manager to 'have a go', employing a professional to oversee proceedings will make the whole evening stand-out and run smoothly. Considerations could include stage and screen actor Shaun Williamson, of Eastenders and Extras fame, who is both funny and highly experienced in building the buzz.
7. Don't overlook the basics
Innovation is always to be encouraged, but when seeking fundraising event ideas don't overlook the obvious either.
Guests at a fundraising event will expect to be asked to buy some raffle tickets, so don't disappoint them or miss out on their money! You might be surprised how generous people will be when it comes to donating prizes too.
And the most simple of ideas – leave plenty of cards and envelopes on the tables and invite guests to donate directly on the night, or pledge an amount to be collected post-event.