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Running a fundraiser for Green Renters: a film night

Running a fundraiser for Green Renters: a film night
CateLawrence

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At Green Renters we've run several successful fundraisers which have assisted Green Renters in our daily work. Such events help fund many of the small yet essential tools which assist in our work such as the printing of flyers and a banner, equipment and staff materials. By request. we're producing a series of short articles with tips about fundraising and other ways to help Green Renters.

A film night is great way to attract people. Everyone is welcome and you have a captive audience to disseminate knowledge to about Green Renters! Obviously the choice of film should have a sustainability theme and is a great way to build community amongst like-minded people.  Running events is definitely profitable if you do it right. The key is to keep the overheads low whilst charging attendees a fair price for the benefits they receive. You mainly raise money through the entry fee but you also raise funds through the little add ons such as raffles, silent auctions, food and drink stalls, collection tins etc. There are many cost effective ways to encourage people to give up their loose change which definitely adds up!

There are a range of decisions that need to be made and tasks that need to happen.

Set a date and determine a venue.

  • Day of the week and venue very much depend on audience. For example, if you are running an event for families or young people or a CALD community, a pub on a Friday night may not be the best location.
  • For a primary school however, the event is usually best held on a Friday night where families can come down to the school oval with a picnic dinner after work. This is a great forum for building the school’s community spirit, and gives families within the school a chance to catch up. The kids can run around and play with their friends beforehand, all within sight of their parents, and can then sit down with their friends or families and watch the movie.
  • Most of the people that attend Green Renters events are women aged 20 and up with a fair smattering of mixed ages and a few men along.
  • An indoor venue is preferable in case of rain and a disability accessible venue ensures everyone can attend.
  • Check with the venue about any restrictions. A library hall might not allow food for example.
  • Ideally a venue that has previously had screening should be considered. Check if they have enough chairs, a few tables for food and the projector, and a screen and projector.

Get the venue to confirm in writing. Many an event has been spoilt by a double booked venue-not a way to impress people you want to impart with their cash and give it to you!

Set up the ticketing
In our experience it is vital to get people to people to RSVP and pay in advance. This ensures that all the people that say they are going to come actually turn up! Green Renters has an event management system that will handle the ticketing and you can link people to the website to pay. We can help with this.

Spread and word and build your audience

  • Ideally promotion should start 6-8 weeks prior to an event. This ensures plenty of lead up time for press releases, newsletter inclusion etc.
  • Set up a Facebook event. invite people you know that you think would be interested in coming along. Remember a Facebook RSVP is not a RSVP in real life so consider them uncommitted until they buy a ticket.
  • Word-of-mouth is incredibly powerful. Connect with your own circle of friends, family and work colleagues. Encourage them to attend and ask them to pass on event information to their friends and family as well.
  • Post leaflets or posters around your local area or even the area surrounding your event, such as in shopping centres or on community notice boards.
  • Send an email out to related organisations to promote to their members. Usually they will do this through their newsletters or Facebook You can also post a link to the event on their Facebook page.
  • Post details of your event on community websites. Most local papers or local councils have online community noticeboards which allow you to post your events. You may also want to use larger community event websites such as:

www.whatsonsydney.com.au
www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/WhatsOn/html/custom/2199-sydney-event-calendar.asp
www.villagevoice.com.au (covers selected Sydney suburbs)
www.timeoutsydney.godo.com.au/index.cfm
www.sydneyexchange.com.au
http://www2b.abc.net.au/local/sydney/diary/index.htm

  • Get it in print. Local media love a local story – grab your local paper and call the newsdesk to inform them of your event. Local newspapers also tend to have 'what's on' columns to feature local events.

Other ways to raise money besides the ticket sales
A raffle: raffle a donated prize.
A collection tin: allows people to put their spare change to a good cause
Sponsorship advertising: Offering local businesses the chance to sponsor the event by purchasing a 30 second advertising slot prior to the movie is a great way to bring in money for Green Renters and create important relationships with local businesses.  The advertisement can be as simple as a still picture PowerPoint or iMovie sequence, or a full motion TV advertisement. Obviously you shouldn't spend more time approaching businesses for sponsorship at the expense of promoting the event itself! Some suggestions of local businesses you could approach are gyms, restaurants and bars, cafes etc. You can request prizes for door prizes which enable small businesses to promote their wares to a captive audience.
Sell food : People who attend an event invariably like something to eat and drink. You can either factor this into your ticket price (e.g. ticket includes a free drink) or have food for sale separately. Obviously this may not be an option is you are running the event at a pub or other venue that serves food/drink. Remember many people who attend 'green' events are vegetarian or vegan. Some may have dairy or gluten intolerances. A venue such as a local hall should have plates and cups that can be washed after use-remember we practice what we preach at Green Renters! Some foods that are easy to sell and go well:

  • A snack plate: could include: Turkish bread/pita bread, dips, olives, cheese (with vegan alternatives)
  • Cupcakes or biscuits
  • Homemade pizza
  • Popcorn
  • Fruit platter
  • Lollies
  • ice creams

Have food clearly marked and labelled on a table attractively set up to look appealing!

What about drinks?
For bigger events, local wineries and breweries may be a good idea source of free sponsorship, however to sell alcohol you need a license from local council. This costs money and can take a long time. It also comes with a range of conditions about having people under 18 present and you may need security guards. Alternatively you can offer mulled wine/cider by donation or served hot drinks such as tea and coffee or chai or cold drinks such as smoothies, homemade cordial, juice, soft drink etc.

Quick checklist:

  • Do you have a copy of Green Renters public liability insurance? You can may need this to secure a venue and a credit card deposit. Green Renters can assist with this.
  • Have you checked that another big green event isn't on nearby on the same night?
  • Do you have a license to screen the film? (Check with Green Renters we may have one already)
  • Does the venue have a screen and projector or do you need to hire one?
  • What time can you access the venue to set up? Do you need to pick up keys?
  • Do they have tables and chairs? Who will be setting them up?
  • Do you need someone to stand outside the venue and shepherd people in?
  • Sign outside the venue?
  • Have you practiced with the projector? (Nothing worse than sitting in an audience for an hour whilst they fix the laptop)
  • Who will staff the food and drink and who will check off names of people arriving?
  • Who will introduce the film and talk a bit about Green Renters?

2 weeks and one week before the event check in with the venue and confirm everything is set up.

Things you need on the day:

  • Always bring blu tack, scissors and sticky tape.
  • Flyers about Green Renters, maybe even a poster board showing pics from other Green Renters projects and events?
  • Film and projector, lap top and any leads
  • Print out or lap top with ticket holders to tick off
  • Mailing list for people to sign up
  • Membership forms
  • Food, drink and appropriate accompaniments: labels, cloth napkins, knives, cleaning cloth, tea towel
  • Change

Why some fundraisers fail:

  • Lack of audience
  • Running costs being too high so that even if tickets are sold, no profit is made.
  • Bad weather with no back up plan:It is impossible to control the weather, and when planning an outdoor event there is always a risk that the weather will not be favourable on the day you have booked. If bad weather does affect your movie night, the decision to either relocate, postpone, cancel the event must be made.
  • Not enough staff/volunteers. One person can't do everything! Divy out tasks and check they get done

Keep a contact list of all the people who attended your event so you can invite them again next year!

Tags

charity, film night, fundraising, get involved, not for profit