Go with a Group

Charity events are best executed with a large group of volunteers, such as friends or co-workers. "The events that are most successful are the ones that are run by a corporation or a committee," said Kate Myers, Foundation Program Coordinator at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta. "An individual does not have the same capacity to plan and promote their event as a corporation who has the financial resources. It is beneficial for an individual to do something within his or her own means."

Organizing Volunteers for Charity Events

Charity events are as fraught with details as they are good intentions. To that end, a staff of willing volunteers is necessary to pull off a successful function. One of the first tasks to be completed for mid- to large-scale events is the designation of a committee head or chairman. Ideally, this person has significant experience in this arena, making him or her the perfect person to lead the charge for the charity. Sub-committee heads for functions such as budgeting, audio/visual needs, publicity, food/catering, document preparation, donor solicitation, logistics, budgeting and the like should be appointed next. Remaining volunteers can be subdivided into one or more groups as needed to fill gaps and keep the planning process running smoothly.

Once leadership positions have been assigned, events of any size must next select a date, time and location for the festivities. It's vital to choose a date and time that's not in direct competition with other events that draw the same crowd. For example, if the intention of a golf tournament is to draw high-level executives, be sure not to plan it for the same day as a conference targeted to the same group. It's wise to double-check chamber of commerce and newspaper calendars before scheduling to avoid any conflict. Be sure to allow plenty of time for the event to be thoroughly planned and publicized. In general, small events may be put together in as few as three months, with larger events requiring at least nine months for proper planning [source: Fundraiser Help].

In terms of location, it tends to be easier and less costly for smaller events to find a "home," (silent auctions at the church social hall, for example) whereas others require more planning. Most cities have a variety of hotels, restaurants, business centers and other special event venues available for luncheons, dinners and other detailed affairs. Although these sites require more up-front investment, big-ticket events tend to lead to larger profits, if planned effectively.

Any party planner knows that the best events are tied together with a theme. For charity events, in particular, identifying and incorporating a theme is easy. An event raising funds for the local children's library can boast a theme related to children's literature classics, complete with inspired giveaway items, decorations and food (green eggs and ham, anyone?).

Prior to event day, all volunteers should be completely aware of their responsibilities, from setting out table linens to confirming and greeting key speakers. Even if all i's are dotted and t's are crossed, however, some details are bound to go sour or slip through the cracks altogether. To that end, prepare for the inevitable mishaps as much as possible. For example, if the caterer is short on utensils, have a volunteer at the ready to pick up extras. The old adage "you can never be too prepared" is true and especially applicable to planning events of all sizes and scopes.