Hosting a charity event

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Since a little girl I have always had a strong sense of charity and would always be motivated to raise money for something that had caught my eye by creating & executing my own events be it a sponsored walk or a swim raising money for the hospice my grandma was  in or the local person who needed some help.

Imagine my delight when a couple of years one of my favourite authors contacted me via twitter to see how we could work together to raise money –  at the time my friend Karoline and I were preparing to walk 100kms for charity and needed to raise a minimum amount of money for each of our chosen charities. I can remember ringing her excitedly in disbelief that anyone would single me out to do what I love to do most.

We set about organising an event in Pinner with bestselling author Adele Parks in March 2017. This was the first time I had organised something on this scale but had been on the PTA organising quizzes and summer parties as part of a team. My challenge had been offered and I accepted with both hands.

Karoline and I sourced a venue, found a sponsor, and set about selling tickets which is no mean feat. We secured a sponsor to pay for the hall and approached all the supermarkets to help us deliver refreshments. I wrote press releases for the local paper (some of which got published) and together we put on a first class event raising £1000 for Young Minds UK and The Brain Tumour Charity. Adele was an absolute treasure to work with and very engaging to listen to.

In September 2017 Karoline and I then successfully walked 100kms along the Thames Path for our chosen charities inspired by the fact that so many lovely people had helped us achieve our fundraising goals.

I loved organising and planning the event and ensuring that everything went to plan so imagine my delight when Karoline & I met Adele again at a Fabulous Magazine book event in London in April 2018. She asked us whether we had planned any other events and said she would be happy to lend herself should we wish to fund raise again.

The seed was sown and we set about organising once again. This time our aims were higher, we knew what we had achieved and we were ambitious.

We set about booking a venue, the same one as it worked so well, with free parking. We wanted to tie in the date with the release of Adele’s latest book I Invited Her In to help contribute to the publicity of Adele’s book.

The date was set and now we were on a mission to find a sponsor to maximise the charitable donation.

Strangely when charity is involved my confidence rises, I can ask people to donate or sponsor as I know that it is not for me but to help others so I am appealing to their charitable nature. Karoline & I wanted to produce a brochure and together encouraged each other to ask local shop owners to advertise. We had nothing to show but an idea in our heads but set about asking anyway, successfully we secured 12 different businesses. Passionately we approached our local shops and each one that agreed spurred us on to ask for more.

The next item on the agenda was to find a sponsor, we approached the estate agent that had donated  last time but this time we were asking for more.  The agent refused this time and our dilemma was where to go next.

Feeling inspired one afternoon I wrote myself a little speech about  corporate social responsibility pulled a figure out of my head and as confident as I could (which is not very) walked into the first agent I came to on the parade of shops near my house. I told him how successful our last event was and what we had planned so far. I had been ambitious with my figures  and prepared to negotiate, elated when he agreed almost immediately to get involved and donate the full amount.

With our brochure secured and sponsor sorted we now had the ambitious task of selling tickets, this was harder than expected as most of our friends had already seen our speaker, we had lots of promises and excitement but the knowledge that people often promise but don’t deliver, we both felt slightly disheartened and wanted to have a warm welcome for Adele.

Social media is brilliant, it allowed me to approach potential raffle prize donors, publicise the event and use facebook to advertise to friends and family. It is amazing and something to note that you really find out who your friends are – not the ones that buy tickets or show an interest but actually the ones that totally ignore the post but after the event suddenly like it now that there is no pressure on them.

I thoroughly enjoyed trying to source raffle prizes – the buzz that you get when someone agrees to donate and then the pleasure knowing that I am responsible for making someone else happy when they win. I was determined to get substanial prizes for example I knew that the hotel whose gym I visit are charitable. I visited on several occasions to be told that the manager was in a meeting, I left letters and called but was determined not to be ignored and on the day just before the event managed to secure an afternoon tea for 2 people which I knew would be a successful prize.

The night arrived we had secured fabulous raffle prizes (always a good way to raise money) and sold around 55 tickets (not as many as we hoped).

Adele wowed the audience with her engaging chat of books, publishing and life leaving the audience with the message “to never give up on your dream”.  The audience had the chance to ask questions and each one had the chance to take a signed copy of I Invited Her In home with them.

The evening was a success and together we raised £1100 to be split by our chosen charities –The Pink Ribbon Foundation & The Alzheimers Society. We were so lucky that Lisa from The Pink Ribbon Foundation joined us which gave people the opportunity to ask questions gave the charity a face.

Karoline and I made a brilliant team recognising each others strengths and playing them to the fullest and we are lucky that we are both calm in the heat of the moment.

Since the event I have been asking myself why I enjoy the challenge so much. The answer I believe is that I love to do something good for others and it gives me great pleasure in knowing that in some small way I can work towards making a difference.

The question is what should the next challenge be?

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