Charity dinner events are a great way to raise awareness of a noble cause. In turn, this will help you raise money for the chosen charity and truly make a positive difference. Just as with a corporate event, an event for a non-profit cause requires careful planning and execution in order to achieve maximum turnout and donations.
Here are a few charity dinner ideas Ultimate Experience recommends to get people talking about your event and organisation as a whole.
1. Set your goals
Be specific about the event’s purpose. Yes, you want to raise awareness and raise funds, but you have to go a little deeper than that. Exactly how much money do you hope to raise? You should have a specific sum in mind. You should also have a target number in regards to the attendance. This also includes people tuning in remotely if you’re also hosting the event via livestream.
There should be additional goals in mind, such as catching the attention of particular sponsors, acquiring long-term volunteers or member sign-ups, getting your event published in an industry related magazine, and so forth.
Once you have a list of established goals, you can implement the steps to achieving them.
2. Choosing a Suitable Venue
Your event may get more recognition if it’s held in a high-profile venue. Ideally, of course, you want to hold the dinner at a lavish London venue, which there are plenty of right in the heart of the city and the greater area.
At the same time, though, remember that one of the top priorities is raising funds for your charity. If you rent an exceptionally pricey venue, then a good portion of the money raised will end up being used to cover administrative costs instead of being used for its intended purpose.With that in mind, be sure the venue covers your basic needs. The facility should
- Meet the seating capacity
- Have handicap-friendly access
- Have a stage, podium, and audio/visual equipment for speakers and presenters
- Have additional amenities, such as a cocktail bar, dance floor, etc.
While you don’t want to settle for a generic multi-purpose room, you don’t want to go into a spare-no-expenses mode either. We believe the best approach is to find a happy medium.
The Ultimate Experience venue portfolio includes a number of venues that meet the above criteria, and you can check out those venues here.
3. Come Up with a Theme
One of our favourite charity dinner ideas is to come up with a theme. We like this because it allows for a lot of creativity on the part of the event planner. This is where your imagination really comes into play.
The right theme creates more opportunities for attendees to part with their money for the cause.
One idea is to hold a casino night full of card games, roulette, slot machines, etc. Being that it’s a charity event, any money “gambled” away by participants will go towards the charity fund. Players that win money will also have the choice to donate that money to the cause.
Another idea is an auction night. Before the event, use social media to elicit donations of items that can go on the auction block. Perhaps a social media follower has an unused tablet or other electronic device that he’s willing to part with. Perhaps someone could be willing to donate a piece of art.
The two ideas described are effective because they provide tons of opportunity for raising funds all while providing some form of entertainment value for the guests.
4. Promote on Social Media
By promoting on social media, we don’t just mean sending out a notification post on Facebook and Twitter. Social networks are vastly under used because planners and promoters don’t use the full set of tools available.
Yes, you need to send out posts to keep your followers in the loop, but there are a number of other ways of using social media to create higher engagement.
Have you thought about hosting a social media contest? How about using paid advertising or live streaming features available on some of these networks? Speaking of social networks, are you branching out and using other sites like Snapchat, Pinterest, LinkedIn and so on?
Finally, be sure to create a memorable hashtag. The basic rules of hashtag creation applies. This means keeping it short, discernable, and memorable. If you’re hosting a dinner event for a cancer awareness charity, for instance, then a hashtag may be something like #NoMoreCancer or #BeatCancer, or something along those lines.
5. Don’ Forget the Entertainment
Charity dinners also include some form of entertainment. If it’s just a sit-down dinner and nothing else, the event can get pretty quiet. The event should be full of laughter, conversations, applauses, and so on.
Entertainment can be a number of things. This can be a dance after the food has been served. It may also be a musical performance or a stand-up comedian performing while the meal is being served.
You can also bring in a speaker to go over the function of your organization and the importance of the event. In any case, when finding speakers and entertainers, be mindful of the expenses. While a high-profile entertainer/speaker may be able to draw a bigger crowd, it may also cut deeper into your funds.
As an alternative, you may also ask for volunteer performers and presenters. People may be more than willing to volunteer if it’s in the name of a good cause. Plus, it helps build their portfolio, so it’s a win-win situation for all parties involved.
Finally, keep in mind that you can also reach out to schools and universities for group volunteers. This may include members of a theatrical or musical group.
6. Food and Drinks
When it comes to food, find the balance between budget and quality. Don’t go all out by serving lobster tails and T-bone steaks. At the same time, don’t serve water and Ramen noodles either. Most catering services provide bulk discounts when ordering food in large quantities. The venue may also have its own catering service.
A single course meal should suffice. A buffet-style dinner is certainly an option, but in most cases this will cost more. Just serve a main meal along with some light refreshments before and after. This is how our planners normally do it when planning non-profit events.
We provide a meal that’s just good enough to get people to snap a picture of it for their Instagram, but nothing you would find in a super-upscale restaurant.
You can also provide a few extras, such as a full bar with a server. Cocktails, though, should come out of the attendees’ own pockets. This way, a form of optional amenity will be available without it affecting your budget.
7. Acquire Additional Donations
So besides the tickets sales, how else can you get people to donate? A few charity dinner ideas for raising funds were discussed earlier, such as hosting a casino or auction-themed event. There are, however, other ways to get people to donate.
One way is to display a digital chart showing the target sum and the amount raised so far. The meter increases in real time as funds come in. Speaking of donations, you can accept payment via PayPal. This makes it easy for attendees to log into their account through their mobile devices and make a speedy donation with a few clicks of a button.
You can also leave an envelope with a carefully crafted note asking for guests to leave any additional monetary donations inside the envelope. As people leave, you can place a donation bucket by the exit or have staff members solicit for donations as the event comes to a close.
After the event, inform attendees on social media the total amount raised. You can also encourage followers to continue to donate even after the event. Remind them that the cause is always ongoing and doesn’t end with the event.
Bring Awareness to Your Organisation and Your Cause
Charity dinner events help raise awareness to a cause you hold dear in your heart. With a successful event, you’ll bring more people on board and create a funded coalition that brings a positive difference to the world.
You’ll need help planning the event, though. Bring Ultimate Experience into the mix for a charity dinner that will be remembered and spread via word-of-mouth from the guests. We have years of experience hosting events not only for nonprofits but also for corporate functions, conferences, and more.
Please share this article with friends and colleagues if you found it informative.