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Charity Event Ideas

5 Tips for Planning an Unforgettable Charity Event

planning a charity event

Planning a charity event can mean a lot of pressure. You’re trying to raise money and awareness for a great cause and that can get personal! Your event has to be impressive enough to make people want to attend (and hopefully open their wallets). How can you make it unforgettable? We have some creative tips!

Dancing the Night Away

Retro microphone on stage in restaurant. Blurred background

“The Sisters were up dancing which is quite a challenge since the average age is 86. They were singing along to all of the songs because it was all the music they knew and danced to when they were younger.” 


When GigSalad event hosts book a performer from our site, they’re able to give the performer their feedback by leaving a review on their PromoKit. This is a great way for other event hosts and planners to hear from the performer’s happy past clients! Sometimes we stumble upon a particularly moving review that makes us proud to connect hosts with extraordinary entertainers. In Kim’s case, it was the professional show band, Doo-Wop DeVille, who unexpectedly inspired the guests to dance the night away! 

How to Host a Successful Charity Event

Your charity event can be as simple or as complex as you’d like, from a small bake sale to a grand gala. So don’t let the word “event” intimidate you. Your work will be deeply appreciated, no matter the scale. Whether your project is big or small, we believe the key to hosting a successful event is organization and passion. We’ve put together a basic list to help get you started.

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Charity Event: Events for Cause

Planning a charity event, usually in the form of fundraiser, is a very difficult task because usually there is not a large budget to work with. Since most charities are Not-for-Profit, these events are how they make money to do the good deeds that they do. It takes a lot of skill on the planner’s part to get items donated, entertainment discounted, and use the budget efficiently and appropriately. Use these tips from GigSalad to help you plan a successful charity event.

So Many Options!

You must first start with the type of event you want to hold. There are a variety of charity events, such as, golf tournaments, poker runs, silent auctions, 5K/10K run/walks, fish fries, pancake breakfasts, scavenger hunts, etc. The type of event you choose has a lot to do with the amount of budget you have to work with. With any charity event, you will need to have a solid staff of volunteers; these people need to be dedicated to the charity and the cause. Also, one can quite often get local businesses to sponsor the event or donate food, beverage, or other items.

When choosing what type of event you want to host, you will need to consider a variety of factors. Where will this event be held? If you have connections with a convention center or banquet hall, you may want to host some sort of dinner. If the event is going to be held when the weather is nice, you may want to go for an outdoor event like a golf tournament or 5K run. Another factor is volunteers. If you are going to have a lot of volunteers, you can staff something like a pancake breakfast where your volunteers help cook, serve, and clean up. Lastly, you need to consider how much money you want to raise. If this is your one big annual event to make money for the charity, you may want to go for a gala or dinner. If it is just one of your smaller events, go for a fish fry or something similar.

What’s For Dinner?

For food themed events like a fish fry or spaghetti dinner, you can often get volunteers to help cook everything up and serve it to your guests. For events like this, you usually make your money by taking donations for the meal. For an event that is a little more formal, like a charity dinner you will want to hire a caterer. If the venue doesn’t provide servers, be sure to hire a professional waitstaff to take care of your guests. You also need to take care of everyone on the drink front. Try to get a local distributor or spirits company to donate or discount alcohol in exchange for a sponsorship. All you have to hire then is a bartender to serve up the beverages. At events like this, you will sell tickets in advance; the tickets will be priced at a much higher margin than the actual cost per plate. Another way to boost the funds raised at your charity dinner is to accompany it with a silent auction.

Other types of events don’t require planning a meal; however, they have other needs. If you’re hosting some type of run/walk event or golf tournament, you will need to rent tents, tables, and chairs for your registration area. If you want to save a little money, you could ask your volunteers and staff to see if they have any of these items that you could borrow for the event. To boost the money you raise at a golf tournament, have local businesses sponsor the holes or have some sort of game at various holes. For example, at a certain hole if you pay $5, the golfer play some sort of game that could get you on the green on your first drive. Another fun event would be a scavenger hunt. Get a local business to donate an extravagant item and then charge people to participate in the hunt. You can also make some profit by getting sponsorship money from the businesses who are stops on the hunt.

Set the Mood for Your Event

For most of these events, you will need some entertainment to keep your guests occupied. At an upscale dinner or gala, have some dinner music in the form of a piano, jazz band, or string ensemble. If you are hosting an auction after the meal or by itself, you will need an auctioneer to make sure the auction is run smoothly.

For more lively events, such as a themed dinner event, you will need more than just background music. Consider hiring an aerialist, magician, comedian, or a casino party. Each of these options provides a different style of entertainment, so choose the entertainer that best fits your event. Another route you can go is to have a band. Fun options would be a cover band, gospel group, or maybe even some world or cultural music. Regardless, make sure the entertainment fits the theme and tone of the event.

Does this all seem really overwhelming? Get in touch with other charities or non-profits who have hosted charity events in the past. They are usually more than willing to give a fellow charity tips and tricks for how to plan, budget, and get sponsors. If you’d rather leave it to a professional, hire an event planner to do the formal planning. Don’t forget to use GigSalad for any entertainment or services you need for your event!