Planning and preparation
To make sure an event is successful, good planning is essential. Take the time to thoroughly plan all events to consider the costs, complexity and logistics. It can be a good idea to:
- Establish what the event objectives are and ensure that the event proposition fits within the organisation's charitable and strategic objectives
- Establish the nature of the target audience, the potential group size and what fundraising activities might be attractive to potential participants or guests in order to determine what type of event will most successfully meet the objectives
- Research event ideas with potential participants or guests
- Analyse potential benefits and returns, including likely Return On Investment (ROI) and break even points
- Establish a clear budget, ensuring that all potential costs are included (including hidden costs such as staff time)
- Consider the elements critical to the success of the event (for example, venue, celebrities, sponsorship) and how these will be secured
- Consider the potential risk to the organisation's reputation that may arise from being involved with particular events or associated companies
- Secure approval from senior management and trustees
- Avoid clashes with similar activities and dates and identify successful models. Consider running a pilot initially
- Think about the experience of the Donor – link to Commission on Donor Experience
Where you host the event will have a big impact on what kind of event it will be. Will you use your charity’s premises, rent a high-profile space, or partner with a company or other organisations to put the event on? The cost, location and access will all be determining factors to bear in mind.
- Consider issues of equal access for all, even if an event is being targeted at a specific group of people.
- Ensure the venue complies with all health and safety regulations.
- Ensure the venue is of a suitable size and capacity, taking note of any restrictions
- Consider the environmental impact the event will have on its surroundings
- Assess what equipment, including catering requirements, will be needed at the event. Specialist equipment requires expert installation
- Consider whether the provision of childcare facilities is necessary
- Take into consideration access issues including vehicles, local transport and adequate parking
- Consider availability of local emergency services and whether first aid provision is necessary
Make sure that the event runs smoothly by ensuring:.
- Fire exits are checked, cleared and appropriately lit
- All public areas are clean and clear
- The appropriate level of first aid provision is available
- Effective signage and directions are in place well in advance of the start time of the event
- Effective communication systems are in place and working
- All required materials and documentation are available
- Any necessary equipment is present and working properly
- All stewards and volunteers attend the on-the-day briefing
- All banking materials (float, cash box, receipt books) are stored safely and securely
- Name badges are provided to identify key personnel and volunteers
- All branding is in place as agreed with any sponsor
- Phone numbers of all key event contacts (band, entertainer, speakers) are stored safely and securely and emergency contact numbers are to hand
- Volunteers and staff are briefed to make sure you’ve covered key roles and responsibilities, health and safety elements, all the information on the venue (toilets, fire exists, parking etc.) and who to talk to if anything goes wrong
It’s worthwhile to ensure that the organisation has a written contract with every sponsor. This need not be a complicated document and could be a letter of agreement. The contract should set out clearly what funding is being provided, when payment will be made and what the charity will provide in return.
Usually the charity will display the sponsors’ logos and there will often be strict branding requirements to follow for both parties. The contract may also specify other benefits such as a number of complimentary places or tickets.
For best practice, organisations should put in place appropriate financial procedures. These will depend on the nature of the event but may include:
- Recording income received and all expenses
- Monitoring income and expenditure against agreed budget
- Ensuring there are facilities and procedures for cash handling and storage on the day including a safe or suitable cash box
- Having procedures drawn up and facilities available to handle debit or credit card payments – particularly access to chip and pin handsets.
When transporting monies after the event, it’s a good idea for organisations to use a night safe facility at a bank or a suitable safety deposit box. If money is to be carried by an individual, it’s best for care to be taken with personal security. Individuals should be encouraged to always use a safe route, and be accompanied and/or carry a personal alarm.
It is good practice for monies to be counted, recorded and banked as soon as possible after the event, and at least two people should be present when counting cash.
Event organisers should ensure compliance with insurance policy terms in the case of a theft.
If it is not possible to bank monies immediately, arrangements should be made for monies to be kept in a secure place or preferably a safe.
Recovery of any outstanding money from participants should be made as soon as possible after the event. If monies are not collected within the specified time frame, it is worthwhile organisations contact the participant and request money to be submitted. If payment is still not forthcoming, you could give consideration to the amount outstanding, the time and effort that may be required and the potential reputational risk to the charity when deciding upon a further course of action.
Taking money on the day
If donations will be collected at or in the near vicinity of an event, organisations must check whether any of the legislation concerning public collections applies. In particular, organisations ought to always check the licensing requirements with the relevant local authority(ies) beforehand.
If an individual or group contacts the organisation to put on a third party event, there should be clear identification of the body responsible for the event and that the event is ‘in aid of’. The individual or group is responsible for having its own insurance and for entering into all contracts. Organisations ought to consider the fit between the activity proposed and the organisation concerned and, agree with the volunteer fundraisers what support will be provided in light of this fit. The relationship between the organisation and any other person or body should be clear and documented in writing. It is a good idea for organisations to consider providing third party event organisers with a checklist of issues to consider.
You should encourage third parties to state that they are organising an event ‘in aid of’ an organisation if this is their relationship to the organisation, ensure the logo is used correctly and that any branding guidelines are made clear and adhered to.
Organisations must have written contracts with commercial participators and professional fundraisers, and ensure an appropriate statement is made.
It is important that organisations ensure there is proper arrangement for monies to be transferred to the organisation as soon as possible after ‘in aid of’ events.
If the event is being staged by a person who is a commercial participator or professional fundraiser as regards the charity (ie. an ‘in aid of’ event), the charity and commercial participator must have an agreement complying with section 59 of the Charities Act 1992 and the Charitable Institutions (Fund-Raising) Regulations 1994.
Commercial participators and professional fundraisers must make a statement complying with section 60 of the Charities Act 1992. In Scotland, similar provisions relating to agreements and statements are contained in sections 79 to 83 of Part II of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005. The Act places on a statutory footing certain requirements of the Code of Fundraising Practice, 'Scottish Charity law in relation to Fundraising and Public Charitable Collections'. Further guidance is available in the Charity Commission publications CC20 (Charities and Fund-Raising) and RS2 (Charities and Commercial Partners) (see www.charitycommission.gov.uk).