Last Updated on October 7, 2021
Charity events are pretty awesome. Not only can you feel like a great person for serving a noble cause, a well-run event can be one of the most enjoyable experiences in the world. That said, they can also be even more stressful than a traditional conference or show.
See, like any other affair, charity events come packaged with their own unique set of roadblocks. It’s important that you make yourself aware of the challenges you’re going to face. After all, it’s better to mitigate your problems before your event kicks off, rather than addressing them during.
Engaging People In Your Cause
The biggest challenge you’re likely to encounter as an event manager is motivating people to actually care about your cause. See, although giving to a charity certainly inspires the whole “warm fuzzies” feeling in most people; at the same time, folks are going to have a bit of difficulty feeling compassion if what your charity doesn’t personally affect them. What that translates to is that there are a lot of people who could give to your event that simply won’t.
So…what can you do?
This one’s all about public perception. If you’re accepting donations, make sure your donation table is clearly-marked, and that it’s completely transparent what cause you’re supporting. Consider putting a few posters up at your event that’ll inspire people to give – if, for example, you’re trying to raise money to help animals, then pictures of kittens could bring a lot of people to you. On top of that, you need to make sure you market your event. Start telling people about it months in advance, so that they know the event is happening.
Last, but certainly not least, pairing with an accredited, well-known charity is pretty much a must. People are going to be more likely to donate if they know what your money’s going towards. Transparency is key.
Your Partners Are Hurting Your Image (Or They Just Don’t Bother To Show)
A couple years back, I ran a charity gaming marathon at my University. In order to raise money, we partnered with another group on campus. For discretion’s sake, I won’t reveal the name of the club, but suffice it to say, they were devoted to a good cause.
Flash-forward to the event; half the people who signed up to volunteer didn’t even bother to show. On top of that, the young ladies who did were some of the most unprofessional people I’ve ever had to deal with. They loudly discussed sexual, inappropriate matters while seated at the donation table, belittled the participants and potential donators, and generally behaved like children. At the time, I had no idea what to do about it, so I simply thanked them when they left and thanked any deity that would listen that they weren’t coming back.
What SHOULD I have done?
That’s easy – I should have put my foot down, and told them to shape up or ship out. In a situation like this, you need to be willing to tell your partners that their behavior is unacceptable. You need to be able to inform volunteers that they’ll be reported to their organization. This is your event, and if people are acting in a fashion that hurts your image, they need to go.
You Can’t Find Organizations To Support You (Directly)
Another significant problem – particularly if you’re running a smaller charity event – lies in finding sponsors to support you. When I was running the gaming marathon, it took several months for us to even receive a response to any of the emails we sent out. Larger organizations in particular simply aren’t interested in participating in small, independently-run charity events; they often have their own fundraising drives to run as it is. While they’ll usually be willing to accept donations, getting them to provide direct support is a sometimes-impossible task.
Shop around a bit. Don’t be afraid to ask smaller organizations for a hand, and send out a message to pretty much every charitable organization that could possibly support your cause.
Vendors and sponsors are a little trickier. Before you contact anyone, make sure you’ve got something concrete to offer them. Can you improve their public image? Can you bring them an influx of customers or clients? Make certain you tell them – in no uncertain terms – what you have to offer.
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