Fundraising is a time and energy-consuming necessity for those striving to collect money for a good cause. One of the most common ways to raise funds is to organise a charity dinner. Proceeds from entrance tickets, donations and event activities can all be funnelled to the charity. Done well, a charity dinner can do more than just raise money -- it can raise much-needed awareness for a particular cause.
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Select your cause. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but the truth is that a cause that is defined too generally can leave less of an impact on your dinner's participants. For example, if your charity efforts are geared towards poverty, try defining a specific beneficiary to whom the event will be dedicated -- like those stricken by poverty in one specific city or country.
Choose a venue. This has a lot to do with the funds available to you. For example, do you have the cash to rent a ballroom at the poshest hotel in town, hoping to attract the city's wealthy? Or are your funds so limited that you have to hold your dinner in someone's garden? Both could work.
Create an exciting programme. Usually this means lining up speakers, perhaps a musical performance, if appropriate, and activities aimed at raising additional funds on top of the entrance fee. Contact speakers who are well-connected with the cause or are noted authorities on the issue and invite them to speak.
Complement your programme with some sort of visual exhibit. This can be a gallery of photos or paintings connected to your dinner's cause, a display made up of objects that help illustrate the need for donations, or something else artsy or informative that catches attendees' attention and motivates them to make additional donations.
Decide on a meal. A buffet might be the easiest option if you are expecting a large turnout, though separate plates are easy to arrange if you are holding your event in a hotel or conference centre.
Send out invitations. Invite everyone you can, from friends and family to members of organisations and groups in the area that might be interested or otherwise connected to the cause. Additionally, print out flyers and post them where appropriate with the proper contact and event information, and, if you have the funds, consider placing a large colourful ad in the local paper. In the case of the latter, try meeting with the paper's editor and try to get her interested in writing a news report on the event.
Hold your dinner. Mix and mingle with attendees as much as possible in order to promote your cause. Afterwards, be sure to thank, both verbally and in writing, those who played a special role in the dinner as well as those who may have donated the largest sums of money.
Tips and warnings
- Consider holding your dinner in a public park. Often, large areas devoted to outdoor eating are available upon reservation.
- A slide show, when possible, can add visual interest to your line-up of speakers.
- Try putting a donation box in the middle of each table, at both ends of your visual display, and at or near the entrances/exits of the room or area where the dinner is held.
- Consider adding an activity or two to your dinner's features; for example, a charity raffle or a charity auction.
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