How to Host a Successful Charity Bartending Event

Apathy is the biggest threat to our social security net.
Getting people off the couch to take action is the challenge that most charities face.
Despite the common 80-20 rule that says 20 percent of the people will raise 80 percent of the needed money, there is still a need to reach out to the rest of the population.
That is where a grassroots volunteer corp can help.
Planning a fundraiser, such as charity bartending event, is not really difficult. The challenge isn’t the logistics. That’s the simple part. Getting the people to come out is the challenge.
Let’s take a look at the planning of a charity celebrity bartending event.
First, you need a location. Outside of getting people to attend, finding the right location is the toughest decision.
You usually have two choices: a restaurant or a hotel. Restaurants should be your first choice. They will work with you if you convince them you will be able to bring 100 people through the doors. Restaurants also have more ambience than a hotel ballroom.
But finding the right restaurant is the difficult part. You need one with a large lounge area that can handle 100 to 200 people throughout the night. You also need one that will let you charge an entry fee. Not all will. There is one local venue that meets the criteria but the owner doesn’t let you charge at the door. That means you have to live only tips that are given to the celebrity bartenders or advance tickets, which comes with its own challenges.
The challenge with hotels is that they will usually want to charge you a room rental fee, which a restaurant will usually waive. You also need to do more decorating to create a festive environment.
If you choose to sell advance tickets, as I think you should, it will take a major team effort. I belonged to a Lion’s Club in Oregon and for its fundraiser each member had to buy 10 tickets or sell 10 tickets. You need that kind of commitment from your volunteers. If you can pre-sell tickets, you don’t have to sweat that people will not show up.
But let’s say the restaurant let’s you charge at the door. If your goal is to bring in 200 people, you need to try to pre-sell at least 75 to 100 tickets. That gives you breathing room the night of the event. You don’t have to sweat the minutes leading up to the night wondering if people will actually attend.
Here is how I did it without selling a lot of pre-tickets.
I created a Facebook Page for my organization and then created a Facebook Event. I then invited my 400 local Facebook friends and then asked them to invite their friends. By the night of the event, more than 2,300 people were invited. My posts reached more than 5,000 people with almost 1,000 people viewing them. The Facebook analytics told me that 200 people were engaged. That’s social media.
I also did a weeklong Facebook Ad Campaign and reached even more people. I targeted people who volunteered and supported causes. Facebook allows you to target people’s interests and behaviours within a 50 mile radius of your location. For the next event, I will plan a four-week ad campaign on Facebook.
I also got the event listed on almost 20 MeetUp local groups. Conservatively speaking, I
reached another 10,000 people via Meetup. Leverage other groups, that’s a key factor.
Today, people think social media and the internet, but I also went old school and networked ad nauseum every day for six straight weeks. Business groups. Chamber meetings, etc.
During the 6-8 week lead-up to the event, I invited as many groups to adopt the fundraiser as their own. I was reasonable successful. They posted the event, but next time I need them to really buy in and really promote the event.
Another strategy where I diverge from other celebrity bartending events is the number of bartenders. Most charities opt for 3-5 big-name people. I go for as many as I can get — as many as 12-15 on the belief that each bartender will bring with them 5-10 people.
If you haven’t figured it out yet everything you need to do is aimed at leveraging the power of others to get more people to the fundraiser.
The first event I did almost all by myself but if you can get 7-10 dedicated volunteers to help you that is the way to go. Once again, each of them should be good for 5-10 attendees.
Depending on how you want to go for the evening entertainment, you might need a DJ or a local band, raffle donations and vendor tables. The DJ will cost a couple hundred dollars. Businesses will gladly donate gift certificates, etc.
If you all do that, you should have a great success.