Organising an Event
Before your event
The most successful events are ones which have been properly thought through and organised. People are much more likely to donate to something that's well run and where they come away feeling like they've had a good time and it's all been worthwhile. Here's a checklist of things to think about when planning your event:
Before you do anything:
- Make sure you've given yourself enough time to plan and get everything organised for the day – successful events don't happen overnight! When choosing your date try to make sure it doesn't clash with other similar events locally, national sporting events that keep people at home/in the pub, or big fundraising events like Red Nose Day. Then of course there's the weather to think about!
- Consider how you can double up and use the event as a campaigning opportunity as well: Could you get people to sign a petition or hand them campaign postcards as they arrive or leave? Make it easy for people to take action!
- Don't underestimate the time and effort involved. Get help from friends/colleagues/local group members and make sure tasks are clearly and fairly distributed.
- First aid and Health and safety: If you are running a large event, you may wish to find a volunteer who has first aid training. As the organiser you will be responsible for the health and safety of participants, CAAT cannot take responsibility for this. It's a good idea to carry out a risk assessment before your event, to consider what hazards might be present, how likely they are to cause an accident and what action can be taken to prevent accidents occuring. A quick web search will bring up plenty of example risk assessments that will help you make sure your event is safe.
Set your budget: How much are you hoping to raise? How much are you likely to spend? You need to make a considerable amount more than your costs for the event to be worth your time and effort.
Finding a venue
Your venue will be a key factor in determining the success of the event. You need to consider the following things:
- Location: is the venue easy to find? (you might need to put up extra signposts on the day) Does it have good public transport access? If people are coming in cars, is there good parking nearby? Have a map available if possible.
- Accessibility: does the venue have good access and facilities for disabled people? Is there a lift? Is there a hearing loop available?
- Facilities: does the venue have toilets? Will you need to provide childcare? Does it have a PA system? What kind of licences might you need e.g. Alcohol? Entertainment?
- Capacity: how many people do you expect/have tickets for? Make sure the venue is big enough, but also not too big to make it seem like nobody has turned up! Because of health and safety regulations most venues will be strict about numbers, so make sure you have some way of keeping tabs.
- Payment & money: will you need to pay a deposit? When paying the balance it is good practice not to use the cash you have collected on the day, but to send a separate cheque.
- What are the restrictions? Some venues will allow you a fairly free reign in terms of decoration etc, whereas some are a bit stricter. Make sure you know about all the things you're not allowed to do e.g sticking things to walls.
- Catering: If you're providing food you need to check what refrigeration and serving space is available. It's also a good idea to make sure you're informed about food hygiene by visiting government recommendations site.
Once you know when and where the event is happening you can start publicising it to get as many people along as possible.
Before deciding how and where to publicise your event, think about the kind of people you're hoping will come. Are you hoping for families, students, other activists, or is your event aimed at the more 'general public'? This will help you target your publicity.
Posters & leaflets
Produce some posters and flyers if possible. Local shops, leisure and community centres and libraries may be happy to display these. It's always good to take some flyers along to demos, meetings and other events you might attend. This is also a great time to rope in your friends to help spread the word: Get them to distribute or display your publicity at their workplace, school or university and through any campaigning or other social groups they belong to.
The web is a great way to spread the word use CAAT Facebook, CAAT Twitter, your own or a friend's blog and encourage people to post and forward details of your event. You can also join CAAT's Facebook group and post details on the wall. There are also lots of websites that have online diaries, for example local papers. Contact the person who updates them and ask them to add your event.
Your local newspaper or radio station may be interested in covering your event. They may preview your event in their listings or come along on the day to report on the event. This is a great opportunity to let them know why you believe it's important to raise funds to help end the arms trade. The best way to get local media along to your event is to write a press release. You can read some tips on writing a press release in CAAT's media guide.
When approaching the media, the following pointers may come in useful:
- Pick one key message and up to three key points and stick to them
- Look for hooks relating to the arms trade to emphasise why your fundraising is important; e.g a recent news story or local event, a debate on air or on their letters page, or a personal angle
- Think about any photo or filming opportunities and invite a photographer. You can also send in your own photos, so make sure you have a good selection to choose from
- Record any responses you have so you can build up a relationship with local reporters. This will come in useful for any future events you decide to run
How CAAT can help
CAAT can also help you publicise your event send in details of your event well in advance and we can add it to our online events diary and include it in our monthly email bulletin. The bulletin is currently sent to supporters around the middle of each month, so make sure you send the details in time just email the date and time, location, title and a short description to press(at)caat·org·uk.
On the day of your event
After your careful preparation, multiple offers of volunteer help and fantastic publicity, the day of your event has arrived. The following things will help you ensure that everything goes smoothly:
- Arrive in plenty of time give yourself enough time to get the venue set up and have a bit of a sit down and relax before everyone arrives. You'll need it!
- If you have several helpers, have a clear itinerary of what's going to happen and most importantly, who's doing what. Ask your volunteers to arrive early and do a run through with them
- If you are able to, put up extra signs for things like toilets, refreshments etc, but remember, no matter how many signs you put up, people will always, always ask where the toilets are, so make sure everyone in your team knows!
- Have useful things to hand such as stationery items, sellotape, money bags etc.
- Make sure you know where the emergency exits are, that they are clear of any obstructions, and what you would do in case of a fire alarm etc.
- Assign one person to be responsible for looking after the cash. If you are using collection buckets or tins, place them in secure places away from entrances and exits. Decide who is taking the cash away from the venue. If possible choose someone who doesn't have to travel alone or on public transport
- Remember to take lots of pictures; not only for your local newspaper but also to send in to CAAT. We are always looking for photos to use on our website and in CAAT News.
- If possible try to keep a record of attendance, or at least do a rough headcount. This will help you when writing up the event for CAAT or your local media contact. It will also be useful when evaluating your event and planning for the next one
After the event
As the event ends you will need to count your cash takings it's good practice to get two people to do this in each other's presence and record the count on a cash sheet. The cash should be banked as quickly as possible. It is best not to take expenses out of cash made on the day, but to pay them separately. Unfortunately, CAAT is unable to cover any expenses incurred in the organisation of your event. Once you have worked out the proceeds from the event, please send a cheque to CAAT accompanied by a note of which event they are from and your contact details, so that we can confirm receipt and also so we know whom to thank! Cheques should be made payable to Campaign Against Arms Trade.
Remember to thank your volunteers and anyone who helped you get the event up and running.
We love to receive reports of all local fundraising activity, but appreciate that not everyone has the time or inclination to sit down and write a full report (though if you have it will be gratefully received!). If you can, just jot down the main points including how much you raised and we will try our best to include it in CAAT News or in other supporter communications. Send your reports to fundraising(at)caat·org·uk.