Here are some quick tips that might help you organize your event and maximize your fundraising. Your event is your own, you’re not “required” to do these things. Take what works for you!
At the event
Here are some things I’ve done at past charity events that helped raise more money.
- Make a “thermometer” type poster with your financial goal on it; assign someone to update it throughout the evening and make regular announcements. People love to meet goals.
- Have a bake sale table
- Have a silent auction table
- Put in a cash bar if your venue allows it
- Hold a 50/50 drawing
- Put a basket or piggybank near the door to receive donations
- Have an engaging dancer make her way around the room with a donation basket periodically, collecting “tips.” (make clear these are for donation, not for her personally!)
- Live auction something big
- Set your ticket price as a “suggested donation” so people know they can give more
- Create a clear path for people who can’t attend but want to contribute. Should they drop donations at the studio, mail them? You can send them directly to our donation page if that’s easiest (though we don’t have a way to track which event organizer sent them).
- See if your employer offers a ‘matching donation’ program.
- See if a local business sponsor would be willing to match donations.
Ask for help
Remember that the people around you want to do something but don’t know what to do. You are bringing them a gift when you offer them a way to help. Rope in volunteers, take advice, ideas, assistance, and donations from all sources.
- Many employers offer matching funds for charitable contributions. If yours does, you can double your total donation instantly.
- Middle eastern restaurants in your community might be willing to donate food for your event. Don’t hesitate to ask them.
- No harm in telling everyone you work with that this is a charity event, and you’d appreciate a donation of their service. Maybe you can get local advertising, professional flyer design, the printing of flyers, table/chair rentals, and more. Give it a try, or send your boldest friend out to ask.
Create a Facebook event
Creating a Facebook event is the fastest, easiest way to spread the word. You can invite people, and they can invite people, and so on.
Post a link to www.haflaforhumanity.com so people will know what you’re doing.
Share, share, share!
Share your event on our Facebook page to help people find you and to help inspire others to create events. You can also keep the momentum going on Twitter by tweeting @haflahumanity and using the hashtags #haflaforhumanity #oneshimmyatatime
Don’t just share once. Post updates as you have exciting new developments!
Finding a venue
This is probably your biggest challenge, especially last-minute. Feel free to use the template at this link if you want a shortcut to writing an appeal to venues.
When you call potential venues, tell them that you’re raising funds for the starving people of Yemen and ask them if they can work with you on price or even donate space for you.
The more flexible you are about the day and time of your event, the more likely you will be to find a good venue.
In many cities, it’s very tough to book space without spending a lot of money. You may have to accept a space that wouldn’t be your first choice. A church basement, a library meeting room, a ballroom in a second rate hotel, an empty dance studio or school gymnasium. Your guests and performers won’t mind.
Middle-eastern restaurants are likely to be Arab-owned and happy to help you.
If you’re lucky enough to find someone who will donate a space for you, great! If not, it is perfectly OK to deduct your necessary expenses from your total donation. Donating 100% of the proceeds only means you aren’t keeping any profits. It doesn’t mean you have to pay the expenses out of your own pocket.
Special note for first-timers
We really appreciate the courage and commitment it took for you to volunteer. We’re here to help. While I can’t guide every organizer every step of the way, I will try to help if you get stuck or run into trouble. Ask questions in the comments below or e-mail me Lauren@haflaforhumanity.com.
The best advice I can offer is to keep your first event small. Invite some friends over to dance or watch performance videos in your living room. Hold a simple potluck in the studio where you have classes and take turns dancing for each other. Keep it manageable so you and your guests can enjoy yourselves. The charity can use donations of any size.
You, the event organizer, will be making the donation directly to International Rescue Committee via our page after the event, and you will receive a receipt from the organization. Please discuss with your tax advisor how to properly handle any deduction you want to claim.
If an individual donor wants a tax receipt, have them make their donation directly through our donation page.
Yes, it’s good enough. Yes, you’re good enough. And gosh darn it, people like you.
If you’re like most of us, organizing an event will bring you face to face with your own ego and insecurities every day. This is especially true if it’s your first time (but it never really goes away). Is this good enough? Am I good enough? What will people think? Are other people’s events going to raise more money than mine? Be fancier? Is what I’m doing right?
When you hear that voice of doubt in your head, remember that I told you it would happen. Know that it happens to everyone. Laugh at yourself if you can (that’s how I handle it). Focus on why you’re doing this in the first place. If what you’re doing is raising money for these women, then it is exactly right.
Are you an experienced organizer? A nervous first-timer? Something in between? Please share your tips or questions in the comments below. Let’s all help each other.