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Help Sheet

What are special events and why run them?

A special event is a function or "occasion" which, in fundraising terms, aims to generate money for the community group or not-for-profit which stages it.

There are many different types of special events, each with their own different level of complexity and suitability for different groups. Large, lavish occasions are generally out of the reach of small consumer groups - and even in partnership with big organisations and sponsors some small consumer groups steer clear because they believe too much of the integrity of their group may be compromised by alliances or perceived alliances that would reflect poorly on their philosophy.

However, with creativity and lateral thinking your group can sometimes get around these hurdles, especially if your group is lucky enough to have a social dynamo, a tireless networker, a media savvy expert, an artist, graphic designer or a really confident group promoter, for example.

Remember, these events can be small. They do not always have to be grand events. Some of the more common types of special events are:

Why run a special event?

There are a number of reasons to run a special event. They include:

If there is one key tenet to a successful special event, it is planning. Your organisation cannot expect to have a successful special event fundraiser if it is not willing (or able) to put in the necessary planning.

Fundraising considerations for mental health consumers

Financial capacity

It is difficult for small groups to organise large-scale events which need the outlay of money - sometimes a lot of money - before any return is possible. Many consumer groups simply do not have this capacity. However, organising more modest occasions might be possible in the following circumstances:

The message

Your group needs to think about the message that 'glamour occasions' (for example) might give the community about your group and whether you want this image spread. Is it the right image for your group?

In doing this your group might need to list both the positives (in terms of image, not money) and the negatives of the public face of your group or organisation.

On the positive side, for example, might be:

Whereas the negatives could be:

Are your proposed fundraising events consumer-friendly?

Your group will also have to think about the comfort of consumers in some of the settings mentioned above.

Are consumers who might be homeless at the time going to feel out of place at a gala event, for example? Will some consumers who attend be seen as curios and is this an acceptable position to place them in?

Is it acceptable to have an event that your members can not be part of because it feels too posh, too disclosing, too unfamiliar and so on?

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