Organising a Themed Event: Case Study
Tommy’s is a charity which funds research into pregnancy-related problems, health and treatments and also provides medical professionals, parents and parents-to-be with information about pregnancy health issues.
Sharon is chairperson of the Yorkshire Branch of Tommy's and recently put on an 80s-themed dinner dance night.
She described the experience of organising the event: “It hasn’t been too bad really as there were three of us to take a part each and as we had done similar events before we were able to tap into existing resources and information to help us. For example we updated the ticket and flyer template, all committee members sold tickets with me and helped with table planning and negotiating with the venue and entertainment. I kept an eye on the costs and overheads and wrote off for raffle prizes and collated a list of the prizes we had."
Sourcing Acts and a VenueSharon told us how she sourced acts and arranged a venue: “Again we were able to tap into existing resources which we have previously used. The first time round we just asked friends and family for names of acts they had seen/used/enjoyed and wrote to them all and asked for a reduced rate - we now have a few who just charge expenses which is great and means more goes to Tommy's. With regard to a venue we picked a central location - we had used the venue before and so were familiar with the events organiser and company. They were very willing to help and ensured we had tables, chairs, dance floor etc and also that we had designated areas for the food service, raffle tables and auction items.
“We were able to access the venue four hours before the event started to set up the room and decorate the tables and for the entertainment to do sound checks etc. One tip is don't hire the venue's PR system - politely ask to use the entertainment - it can save almost £150!”
PublicitySharon explained how they drummed up publicity for the event: “We advertised via flyers in public places, employment notice boards, local press, on the website and through family and friends. In general we sell our tickets to regular supporters and those we know, however local companies often support us with donations of raffle/auction items and then want to come to the event as well!”
ChallengesAlthough the event was a huge success – raising over £2,000 - it wasn’t all plain sailing. Sharon explained: “It can be time-consuming particularly in the final two weeks prior to the event with collating monies, purchasing last-minute items for decorating the room (we do this ourselves to keep overheads down), typing up programmes for the evening and sorting out the raffle. We often feel uncomfortable asking for raffle prizes but this year we were given an enabling grant of £400 by a company called Steria which was a really big help and covered costs such as an LCD TV for the raffle, helium and balloons, and wine packages for prizes.
“One problem we’ve encountered was last-minute tickets sales - you don't want to say no to anyone but there has to be a cut off point otherwise you are constantly changing the numbers and the catering becomes confusing.”
Tips and adviceSharon offers the following advice to anyone organising a similar event:
- Keep it simple.
- Be realistic about what is achievable with the time and help you have.
- Research your idea for an event to gauge interest and also an acceptable ticket price. To help keep costs down have a go at designing your own tickets - most people want the money to go to the charity and not on expensive printed tickets that end up in the bin.
- Try to offer value for money for your guests, but ensure your ticket prices cover the overheads. That way any raffle or auction you have will ensure that you make something for your charity.
- Don't be shy about asking for prizes and donations - most companies and supermarkets have a charitable fund to donate a prize.
- Also don't be shy to ask for a free or heavily discounted venue - they make lots of money at the bar...!
- If you are fundraising for a larger charity, write to them and ask for leaflets to give out on the night. They may also have balloons and goods for you to use to decorate the venue, and able to give help with a press release to advertise your event.
Finally her top tip is to “have fun!”