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How to organise a dinner dance or ball

Here's our step by step guide to organising a dinner dance or ball for charity.

Older people dancing by Alex Takkil

When you sign up, you’ll receive a free, digital, fundraising pack with loads of free materials, from shareable social media images to set lists and bunting to help you to fundraise.

Your first step should be to assemble an event team that you can count on. If the same people are involved from the beginning, they will be more clear on the planning and execution of the event.

Once you’ve got a team together, start thinking about when you’d like to host your event. Before committing to a set date, see if there are any major sport or cultural events taking place near to or at the same time. If people have already made commitments, they won’t sign up.

The earlier you enquire with venues about availability, the more likely you are to secure your preferred date, as well as negotiate a cheaper price.

List and track all your expenses. This includes the price of the venue, equipment, catering, marketing and set-up costs on the day. Include extra money in your budget for any unexpected expenses.

Finally, establish a realistic fundraising target. Once calculating the total cost of your expenses, divide it by the number of people you believe will attend. At the very least, the price of your tickets should cover overheads.

Before you start promoting your event, make sure that you clearly signpost where people can get tickets from. We recommend making tickets available online and in advance of the event.

Online registration and e-tickets can simplify the process of checking people in on the day. Knowing how many people have registered also gives you an insight into how many people you will be accommodating. Eventbrite (eventbrite.co.uk) offers a really straight-forward ticketing service for a small fee

A really fun part of the planning is deciding what food to serve! We recommend you offer a small number of options for each course, including vegetarian options and which caters to any dietary requirements. You can ask people for this information using an online registration form.

You should also consider the price of the menu when determining how much to charge for your tickets. The more courses you offer, the more expensive your catering will be.

You should be searching for a venue based on how many people will be attending. It’s got to be fit for purpose. As it’s an event to raise money for charity, the venue may be able to offer you a discount for its hire.

Check with your local authority at an early stage, whether you need to apply for any licenses.

Local artists might be your best option, as they are easier to get in touch with. They can also share your event to their large and loyal following on social media. Perhaps someone in your event team has a music contact.

As this is a charity fundraiser, you may be able to get a discount.

Hosting a music event requires sound equipment. Try to find a venue that has a PA system. If you need to provide your own sound equipment, compile a list of what you need and how much it will cost.

It’s highly likely that your band/entertainer has their own equipment, so don’t be afraid to ask them if they can provide this!

There are often businesses and organisations who would love to support and sponsor your event. They may donate or provide refreshments. This is a win-win situation. The sponsor will gain publicity and you'll gain their endorsement.

You should start promoting your event at least a couple of months prior to the event, and in as many places as possible. Even with the best line up in the world, people won’t come if they don’t hear about it. Promotion is key!

Make sure you use as many avenues as possible to raise awareness of your event. Tell everyone you meet or know about Blood Cancer UK and the event you’re hosting in its support. Also, you can post information and updates about the event across multiple social media channels. This maintains and increases interest around the event, encouraging more sign-ups and reaching a wider audience.

Use the materials in our fundraising pack to reach out to as many people as you can, both online and in your local community. We’ve got social media templates, press release templates and posters and invites for you to download and use!

Not everyone who wants to attend will be able to, but they can still support the event. By setting up a JustGiving fundraising page, you can signpost people to donate, and post updates so they can feel involved too. Everything that’s raised on JustGiving will be credited to your fundraising event.

When promoting your event, make sure you signpost to the donations page and the actual web address.

You can fundraise even further by including a raffle or auction, or by selling some merchandise.

Encourage your team to apply for matched giving, if possible. This is when an organisation matches the amount of fundraising an employee does for charity using their own resource, up to a pre-determined level.

Check out our fundraising guide for more ideas.

Create an event programme with your team so that everyone is clear on their responsibilities, timing and structure of the event. Make sure that this includes space for any contingency planning.

On the day of the event, give yourself plenty of time to prepare. By setting up early, you’ll be able to sort out any last-minute tasks, as well as greet your guests.

Don’t forget to decorate your home or venue using our Blood Cancer UK material, found in your fundraising pack.

The key to the success of your next fundraising event lies in thanking everyone who helped. A nice gesture could be to send a handwritten thank you note – with the total amount raised - to your sponsors, event team and performers.

It’s also good to update your guests – and those who expressed an interest to attend but didn’t - on how much money was raised. You can do this on social media, your JustGiving / Eventbrite page. This will make everyone feel proud and involved in its success, as well as enthusiastic to get involved next time.

Toast to the success of your event. Give yourself some well-deserved relaxation time. Appreciate the amazing difference you’ve made to those affected by blood cancer.

Thank you so much for your hard work and contribution!

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