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Dazzling charity events: Our top tips

Last updated November 24th, 2015

Have you ever considered a career in the charity sector? The idea of working for a cause you believe in appeals to many, but it isn’t easy to get your first job. Something to consider is that charities across the UK are under increasing pressure to create events to raise awareness and create fundraising opportunities. With that comes an increased need for event managers and experiential marketing specialists in the charity sector.
With that in mind, we offer our students a specialised module on running fundraising events. If this appeals to you, see our top tips for running a successful fundraising event below to get you started.

Set objectives

Charity events usually have one of three key objectives. To enlist support and raise awareness, to directly raise money or to acknowledge support. It is tempting to try and achieve all three in one go, but make sure you choose one as your priority to guide your event planning.
Example: the Life Ball in Vienna is one of the world’s biggest AIDS charity events and its core objective is to raise money to support AIDS LIFE. It may look like the event is all about raising awareness and creating that ‘wow’ factor, but when you look more closely this is all part of targeting a wealthy celebrity, diplomatic and commercial audience.

Agree target market

Which leads us to considering your target market. Your objective will steer you here, along with the aims and ethos of the charity itself. Who do you want to take action as a result of your event and what are they likely to be willing and able to do?
Example: the Lewes Artists and Makers Fair is a community event aimed at raising funds to support arts activities at the local school. The target market is local residents who are looking for Christmas gifts. The way to reach them is through local artists who are also looking for a way to sell their products, hence solving the Christmas present problem for your target market!

Create a concept

With objective and target market settled, you can now develop the concept for the event. You may have a clear idea already that links to the charity and target market.
Example: Boodles Boxing Ball is an unusual event, themed as an evening ball but with a boxing ring as the main entertainment. The idea here is to give the high society guests (the target market) an unusual evening where they get to show off their skills in a completely different arena. It works: the event has grown from being friends and family only in 2002 to a hotly anticipated London event in 2015.


More than ever, charity events depend on sponsorship by other organisations to support with funding or publicity. You need to choose sponsors to approach who stand to gain something in return for their support – usually promotion of their company or brand to the right people.
Example: The Ambition Gala Dinner this summer was the Charity’s first big scale event and they had to start from scratch. They chose Darius Knight, Team GB table tennis player. His interest is in coaching young people and bringing table tennis to schools. Ambition is a charity that supports youth groups. Their target audiences and objectives overlap enough to make it work.


If you follow our blog you’ll know by now how important it is to have enough staff for your event to make it run smoothly. Never underestimate how many people you’ll need to look after your guests and with tight budget you’ll want to look at recruiting volunteers.
Example: look at any of the events we’ve already mentioned to find out what happens from the volunteer’s perspective.


Last but definitely not least, with all that careful planning, creative brainstorming and securing the sponsorship to put on your event: don’t forget to promote it. You need you target market to realise how much they want to attend your event. Without them, your event is going nowhere.
Example: The recent We The People’s Film Festival do their promotion well on a budget with a good website and social media promotion with their Tweet a Pitch campaign. Don’t forget to think about any PR you can generate from your sponsors. Every bit of (good) publicity helps!
So, think you can manage all of that and all the last minute surprises that will crop up on the day (or night) of your event? You must be an event manager! Why not take a look at our courses to see how we can help you kick start your career in events.

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