With the world as it is today, there are very few activists who could find themselves short of a cause to serve. There is injustice, there is inequality, and there are existential threats that have the potential to bring about unprecedented negative change in the world. So if you’re an ethical entrepreneur running a business in the present day, you’ve got plenty of choice for causes to support.
As well as regular donations to causes, businesses can use their reach in the community to draw support from other socially conscious individuals. This can be by means as simple as carrying the names and brands of charities on your website, and at the other end of the scale it can involve using your connections and voice to run an event which will simultaneously raise consciousness and cash for important causes. If you’re interested in playing a part for the better, the following tips are useful for event planning.
Be clear on your cause, and the charity
A fundraising event should always be targeted towards providing practical help. Raising awareness is great, but by now we’re already pretty aware that the planet is undergoing climate change and that there is inequality between demographic groups, among other issues. So yes, you want to raise your voice, but more importantly you want to raise money. And more importantly still, that money needs to be directed in a way which will make a difference.
If you can name a cause, then you can probably find multiple charities connected to that cause. Not all charitable foundations are born equal, so it is worth researching what these charities do and what the money will go towards. There’s a good chance you’ll be asked questions – by local or even national media, as well as by potential donors – about what difference your event will make. It’s essential, then, that you be able to answer those questions.
Grab attention, but avoid distracting stunts
There are few causes that are uncontroversial in the present day. When you see action being taken in service of a cause, it may delight and inspire you, but ten minutes on Twitter reading about it can be deeply depressing. “Why aren’t you focusing on [different issue]?” and “Oh, more virtue-signalling!” are common calls – and they’ll probably be thrown at your event too. They are to be ignored. Charitable events are designed to grab attention.
That means you want publicity for your event. Launch it with a noisy press conference, hire a sound system and call on the likes of Glow Inflatables to provide visual interest. Be able to provide a soundbite that will stick in people’s heads. However – and this is the tricky part – the event needs to avoid becoming the story. If you’ve hired a prestige celebrity to speak at your event, be sure to drop their name in any promotional context, but always steer the conversation around to the issue you’re addressing. For the same reason, avoid big stunts that become viral in and of themselves – you don’t want the topic getting lost in the noise.
Figure out who your audience is
Any charitable event needs to reach out to an audience – that’s how you spread a message. Your event will survive or fall based on the audience it attracts. Not to put too fine a point on it, but for the most part you want to attract as many people with the potential to make a big donation as possible. Some people might argue that big donations are a way for rich people to make themselves feel better about themselves, but hungry people in famine-ravaged countries don’t have much of a moral quandary about why they’re getting a meal.
Crucially, though, your event isn’t just about getting high-earning individuals through the door. There is a financial economy, and there is an attention economy, and while CEOs and fintech people might be valuable in the former, influencers can be hugely important in the latter. A lot of smaller donations can match a few large ones very quickly, and for all that people sneer at the mere idea of influencers, you would be astonished how many valuable future activists they have in their following. A diverse audience benefits your event – and much more importantly, your cause – in ways far more important than the merely aesthetic.
Know your budget, and your admin needs
It’s exceptionally difficult, going on impossible, to arrange a charity event for free. That doesn’t mean you can’t try, of course. But you may need to pay for at least some of what it takes to put on an event. You’ll need a venue, food and drink, a sound system, decorations, door staff, event staff and advertising, and that’s just for starters. Some of these can usually be secured without a fee, especially if you reach out to other socially-conscious entrepreneurs and artists. Some you will be able to fund yourself. What you don’t want is to have to cover any of the costs out of money raised by the event itself.
You’ll also need to ensure you’ve got the administrative side of things nailed down. To make a long story short, the larger an event is the more organising it’s going to need. So you’ll likely need licences, feasibility studies, parking provision and more. There will need to be liaising with local authorities, potentially with the police and also with local press and media. The moment you know you are having an event, this outreach needs to start. The moment you have a date for the event, applications for documentation need to begin. And this all needs to be managed until every T is crossed and every I dotted.
Running a charity event is a very effective way for a business to ensure that an important cause gets the kind of attention it deserves, but most importantly it is a way of directing genuine practical assistance to those most in need of it. It is incumbent upon us to get it right, and hopefully the above tips will be of assistance in this regard.