The Anatomy of Running a Charity Event

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

There are great reasons for many types of organizations to hold charity events such as fundraising drives and raffles. Not only is it great for one’s brand image, everyone involved – including you – gets to feel good for making a positive impact in the world. However, there are a few things about managing a charity event that make it different from a run-of-the-mill meet-up or conference. You might end up having to do a bit of extra work.

In order to make sure things go smoothly, you’ve got a few tasks ahead of you in addition to typical event management duties such as marketing and venue booking.

Find a Cause You Believe In

Before you do anything else, I want you to stop and think for a moment about something you feel is genuinely wrong with the world. Perhaps you’ve lost loved ones to a debilitating disease such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, or HIV. Maybe you’re genuinely unhappy with the impoverished state of the third world, or the abysmal state of children’s education in the United States.

Whatever your cause, it has to be something you genuinely believe in. If you can’t think of something, ask your staff and co-workers. Someone’s bound to have something about the world they want to change. Once you know what you want to fix in the world, it’s time for the next step in the brainstorming process.

Come Up With a Unique Idea Related To the Cause

The truth is; anyone can host a charity auction, raffle, or fundraising drive.  While any event still may bring in a fair sum of donations from true supports, events can often be boring; they’re not events that most people will remember or look forward to participating in for reasons beyond simple altruism. If you truly want your event to succeed, you need a hook – something that will get people excited to come in and play.

An attention grabbing idea should be tailored to both the brand and to the cause you’re representing, and to your potential donors. For example, a technology firm looking to better the state of the American educational system might host a youth robotics or engineering competition. A multimedia publisher could run a video contest where the best entry about their chosen cause gets published. A game developer could run a charity tournament.

Contact Sponsors, Partners, and Charity Organizations

Your next step is to do a little research and find out what registered nonprofits exist devoted to your cause. Bring whatever charitable organization (or organizations) you’ve contacted on-board with the planning process. They’ll likely have a great deal of valuable – and occasionally much-needed – insight into what it is you’re trying to accomplish. Support may include assisting with getting the word out, providing a proven structure for your event, and in some cases, even contributing to operational costs.

Hint: Don’t forget to consider factors such as manpower, funds, and time commitment.  It can’t hurt to ask for the support you need from your partner organizations.

Items for Auction, the Raffle Prizes

Many charity fundraisers use a live or silent auction in order to provide donors something in return for valuable dollars raised. National Public Radio gives away roses in exchange for Valentine’s Day donations. Local community centers may put on a silent art auction. High rollers may pay big bucks for a charity event table and then bid on an international vacation during a live auction.

Prizes must come from somewhere! This is where the extra work really comes in. Local restaurants, spas, specialty stores and service providers must be emailed, called, dropped in on. This is time consuming, and requires detailed records. Someone, or a group needs to be wholly responsible for this.

Hint: Do not underestimate how long and hard you will work in order to pull together a perfect assortment of auction or raffle prizes!

Find Volunteers

No charity function can run properly without volunteers. While the non-profits you’ve gotten in touch with may be able to offer a few helping hands, finding people to staff your event will largely be your responsibility. Ideally, the first thing you’re going to do here is designate a chairman or committee head, one with a considerable amount of experience.

Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to appoint sub-committee heads for everything from publicity to catering to audio-video needs. From here, you can either put each chair in charge of gathering their team, or put out the call yourself. Again, it’s recommended that you tap into the experience of the nonprofits you’re working with here, as well as your own network.

Make sure you offer your volunteers some degree of recognition for their contribution after the event, as well, and poll them after your event to see what they feel you can do better.

Hint: bringing in too many volunteers is almost as bad as not finding enough. That said assume a few volunteers may not show.

Consider Donating Some of Your Own Funds

Last, but certainly not least, you have a budget. Ideally, you want as to donate as much of the money your event raises as possible. With that in mind, your company might consider paying any costs associated with the function out of pocket – as well as donating some of it’s own funds to the charity. Taking that concept a step further, “matching funds” is a calculated risk, but makes a big emotional impact on donors, and a real social impact as well. That said, what you do here is largely up to you – just make sure you can reach your goal, either way.

In Closing

The only thing better than a great party is a great party that’s dedicated to bettering the world. Pulling off a successful charity function not only betters your brand in the eyes of its customers, it allows you to make a difference above and beyond what you’d ordinarily do. That in and of itself makes it well worth the cost.