Charity Ball 101
After posting about my charity Valentine’s ball on Facebook and Instagram I have already been contacted by 4 different people asking for tips and advice. I am by no means an event organising expert but thought it would be handy to share what I learnt during my experience and give you guys some of my key tips on how to throw a
charity ball! I organised my ball where over 100 people attended, over 3 short months. I think it does help that I am a perfectionist and wanted to make it was the most amazing night I could possibly pull off. So read below if you would like some ideas or tips:
First thing’s first – THE VENUE:
For me, the venue is a huge part of the night. I wanted somewhere that would “wow” people and would be different to usual places. I had previously been to an event at Braxted Park and new from the start I wanted to hold my own event here but also keep my options open. I think I viewed 2 venues but had another 3 in mind. These venues were local football stadiums, town halls and wedding venues, all of which have event rooms to hold a capacity of up to 200 people. I decided to go with my original choice of Braxted Park and luckily, they had my date free so booked it in ASAP. It is really important to book this in as soon as possible as event spaces get booked up extremely fast and so you don’t want to lose your slot. Also make sure your venue is aware that it is for a charity event as most will come back with a specific price to help cater for your budget!
When organising a ball from scratch, you need to make sure you have a good budget made from ticket sales to cover the costs of decorations / food & drink ( if paying for it) and any other costs that will need to be included. I only made a very small “profit” on each ticket to be the base for my budget. I would highly recommend making a minimum of £15 per person ( depending on the size of the party and how much you want to buy to make it an amazing night) People do tend to pay a little higher for charity events or black tie balls / galas. You also need to take into consideration what they will be getting for their money. E.g. whether any alcohol is included and do they get a buffet or sit down meal? I charged my tickets at a price of £60 which included alcoholic drinks on arrival, 3 course dinner and half a bottle of wine per person. Comparing this to when you go out to some of the nicer restaurants I thought this was reasonable, especially with alcoholic drinks included. I have previously attended a ball where I paid £75 for a ticket and had the same included. It all depends on where you are holding it, how many people are attending and making sure they get good value for their ticket price. I also found that taking payment for my tickets was best done in cash or sent directly to me via bank transfer or PayPal. I looked into Eventbrite, which is a great ticket selling site for the larger events, but they do take a small % per ticket sale.
FOOD & DRINK
Luckily for me, the venue I held my ball at included the food and drink in the price. This meant I didn’t have the worry of finding my own catering company and could leave it with them. At most galas or black tie events you should expect to have a 3 course sit down dinner. If it is not as luxurious, a buffet would also be sufficient, but when people are in gowns and tuxes it is anticipated that they will get table service and be seated for the event. The venue sent me over a list of food that I could choose my menus from. You should take into consideration peoples dietary requirements (for example, those who need gluten-free meals) and if there will be any vegetarians or vegans attending. I went through and made 3 “set menus” making it easier to keep track of who wanted what. I had Menu 1, the standard meat option. Menu 2, for vegetarians and Menu 3 for vegans. This was so much easier to keep track of as you can just put down the menu number next to their name when keeping track of ticket sales and payments. I did make some exceptions where people had fish allergies and said they could have Menu 1 but have the starter or Menu 2 – but I did try to keep this to minimum to prevent unnecessary confusion.
SHARE SHARE SHARE! Once you have the venue and start selling tickets start promoting the event. Make a Facebook event page and share it with your friends list, local town pages and also the charity Facebook page itself. A lot of people will go out of their way to attend events when it is for something they support, even if they don’t know the event organiser! Also contact radio stations and local newspaper as soon as possible! – Make them write a story about you, what you are doing and why. You want to try your hardest not pay for advertising as it is for charity and also to appeal to more people. I left this too late, and the papers have written about my event after – which is still great for raising awareness – but it’s even better to do so before the event so you can increase ticket sales and donations. I suggest doing this as soon as you have put the deposit down for the venue and started selling tickets!
DESIGNING THE TICKETS / POSTERS
I made all my event tickets / menus / posters myself. I used an app called CANVA which is great for doing this. For those that are not so creative, it has templates already made up which you can just tailor the writing included to be specifically for your event.
DECORATIONS / CENTRE PIECES
Since my event was “Valentine’s” themed I wanted to make it romantic. I had been quoted by several companies for centre pieces around £25/30 per table AT LEAST. As I had 11 tables this was way over my budget. I decided to go to the range and buy my vases myself and then purchase real flowers and put the two together by hand myself. This was time consuming but it meant I made a saving of at least £12 per table which could go on other things or to the charity itself. I also bought rose petals and confetti to decorate the tables from Sainsbury’s for £1 with each one being spread across 4 tables. It is well worth it to spend an afternoon going to local supermarkets, pound shops and even Primark to find small budget friendly pieces. You will be surprised at what you can find in places you least expect it! I also had a sweetie “pic n mix” table, which went down a treat! And bought all these sweets from Pound Stretcher.
PHOTO BOOTH / FLOWER WALL / LIGHT UP LETTERS
I knew the venue itself was stunning, but wanted to make the room that bit more “fun”. I worked with Essex Event Hire for the light up letters and flower wall, who gave me an amazing price for these since it was a charity event that they supported. I also found the photo booth through the DJ that would be attending on the night. Although these are not necessary items, they made it a lot of fun and gave people something to do whilst also able to eat, drink and dance – they could go get group photos!
Along with making money from the tickets, I also held a raffle and auction. I got a letter head from my chosen charity to just confirm I was raising money for them and wrote my own personal letter to take into shops an supermarkets. The response was amazing. People are so generous when it comes to donations! I was given pieces from all my local supermarkets, such as bottles of wine / Champagne / chocolates and hampers. I also shared it on social media to see if anyone would consider donating a “service” to the raffle for more exposure. I also went to spas, beauty parlours or organisations offering days out that would appeal to both men and women of all ages.
On the night itself, it’s great doing auctions and raffles but there are definitely more ways to get people having fun and raising money at the same time. Having donation pots in the middle of tables and by the bar where people can put their loose change is great. I also found that there are 2 games that are great to be played throughout the event:
Boobs and bum – ask for a minimum donation of £1-2 per play. Ask all guests to stand up and have a partner on their table to play with. The toastmaster will flip a coin, if you think it will land on heads you put your hands on your partners boobs ( or shoulder if you aren’t comfortable!) and they do it back. If you think it will land on tails – you put your hands on their bum ( or hips) both people in the pair have to do the same thing. ( so you both have to pick either heads or tails!) if the coin lands on heads, everyone with their hands on their partners boobs will stay standing up. For those that chose tails / bum, they are out the game and sit down. Continue until you have 5 pairs who go to the front and repeat until there is a winner. Winners get a bottle of bubbly! This game is so much fun and absolutely hilarious to play, everyone tends to get involved!
Table Centre Piece Raffle – on each table leave an envelope, pen and paper. Ask everyone to donate a minimum of £1 per person and write their name on a small bit of paper and put in the envelope. Pick a name out the envelope and that person gets to take home the centre piece!
I hope these tips have helped and given some ideas on what to do to raise more money!