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How to organise a gig

Our guide to setting up your own live music event

Live show by John Price

Organising a gig on your own is really tough, so start assembling 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, think 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, for 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 donate and get tickets from. We recommend making these 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. Also, knowing how many people have registered 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.

Search for a venue based on how many people will be attending and how much space will be needed. It’s got to be fit for purpose. As this is a charity fundraiser, 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 promote 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.

You could also attend local gigs and build connections with the bands and organisers, as they may be able to feature at your event. You could even offer your assistance in helping them to set up equipment, put up posters or sell tickets. This would grant you free access to the gig, and they will be more open to return the favour and perform at your event.

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

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

There are often businesses and organisations that would love to support and sponsor your event. They may donate and/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 the level of 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 your 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.

As part of your promotional efforts, signpost to your donations page and include the full web address.

You can fundraise even further by including a raffle or auction, or by selling 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 meet with your team to run through the programme and their responsibilities, and sort out any last-minute tasks before it gets busy.

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, and 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!