Organising events as a means of fundraising can be a great way to involve an array of different people and the community as a whole. It can raise awareness for your cause in a fun way, reaching new audiences and a wider potential new supporter base.
England and Wales
In most case the premises on which the event will be held must have a current premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003. Under this act certain short-term, small-scale events may be held, provided the organisers send a Temporary Event Notice to the local licensing authority and police ten working days in advance of the event.
Licences cover the supply and sale of alcohol, the performance of various types of regulated entertainment (including live or recorded music), and the supply of hot food and drink late at night. Guidance is available from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Depending on the type of event you are running, you may also need to contact your local authority, the police or local ambulance service
If alcohol is to be served at the event, the premises must have a licence. Scottish law on licensing is in the process of being changed and organisations ought to contact the relevant local authority for further guidance.
Health and Safety
It is important to carry out a risk assessment before organising an event. This will help you foresee any potential problems and how they can be avoided.
You will also need to think about accessibility. Is the venue fully accessible to all? It is important to make sure that you address any concerns before opening the event to the public.
It is generally the responsibility of the venue to complete an access assessment and to take 'reasonable' steps to prevent discrimination but there is no fixed definition of 'reasonable'.
You may wish to have an assessment completed yourself or make sure you choose a venue which will enable access for all. Access auditors may be able to help you establish the venue's accessibility.
Food and Drink
If you wish to have food and drink at your event, there are additional requirements that you need to meet.
Any food that is being supplied must comply with the Food Safety Act 1990, the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 and other regulations applying to specific types of food.
In general, the Food Hygiene and Labelling Regulations don’t apply to food that isn't prepared as part of a business. So, most food sold for charity won't need to be labelled, including food sold at one-off events. However, with food that is regularly packaged and sold for charity (e.g.jars of jam or boxed cakes), regulations may apply even when there is no profit.
Even if there is no legal requirement to label the food, it can be done voluntarily. Ideally, give the product name, a list of ingredients and details about ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction, such as nuts. Ensure the information is accurate.
The requirements for having an inspection depend on the size and frequency of the event. Regulations can vary from authority to authority so it is best to check with your local authority for specific events. To find out more about what regulations apply to your situation, contact the trading standards or environmental health department at your local authority.
You could also check with your or the charity you are fundraising for's insurance provider regarding provisions for cover in the unlikely event of food poisoning.
The Food Standards Agency also provide information and guidance on safe food preparation and transport.
Supplying food and drink at an event may also mean that you need to apply for a temporary event notice, as above.
Public Liability Insurance is not mandatory, but it may be prudent to get if your event is open to the public. If hiring equipment or a service, you will also need to check that the provider has full insurance before signing the contract.
Code of Fundraising Practice and Guidance
The Events section of the Code and Event Fundraising guidance offer full best practice and legal guidance on organising general fundraising events such as fetes or balls.
The Code of Fundraising Practice and Guidance set out the law and best practice for a range of fundraising techniques. The Outdoor UK Challenge Events, Including the Three Peaks Code guidance may be particularly relevant when organising events.
If organising a challenge event outside the UK you should see the Charity Challenge Events guidance.
Successful event fundraising - this webinar features Valentine Morby, an IoF trainer and fundraising consultant, who briefly examines the advantages and disadvantages of event fundraising as well as Sarah Mitchell, Development Executive of the Watts Gallery Trust. Watch it here
Other Institute resources
How to Sleep at Night - A checklist for events is a simple Institute briefing which can be referred to for the organisation of most fundraising events:
The Institute of Fundraising hosts a Special Interest Group, the Event Managers' Forum, which is run by volunteers and is open to all event organisers in the sector.