Charitable Hospitality, an 8 Step “How-To”.

It is that time of year again, the time of year for giving, spending and charitable evenings.

The time is ripe for the hospitality industry to capitalize on all that generosity.

We love the functions, the events and the “showcase” of charity that comes with November, December and January.

I will be honest, “Charitable Hospitality” is an oxymoron though, because all charity costs money, and this time of year, it costs the most.

Scarcity can make finding an event space or event staff a major challenge, especially if you didn’t start planning last year.

This year has been no different in the “hospitable opinion” world, mid way into November and I am already 5 charitable functions in. From 25K for a local schools bus all the way to 70K for local student artists and the design college.

Truly a pleasure to take part in events of this calibre with great teams of professionals and participants.

After a decade of logistics, a laundry list of events, I have really gained a “nack” for putting together these sort of “Charitable” events. I will not lie, it is a complete juggling match of expectations.

So, after what seems like a world of experience in event organization and earning some serious dollars for charities across the globe, I thought it time to put it down to a formulae that can you can use in the largest of event spaces to the smallest of gatherings.

8 Steps to having successful “Charitable Hospitality”

  1. Have a cause. I have been part of some of the most benevolent causes, and more than a few misses. **Remember that a cause has to be more that just a personal wish, you need to be able to SELL IT.
    1. Create a 100 word elevator pitch for the cause, this will help endlessly with the next step.
  2. Find the charity. I use the same model, a coordinator at the Ritz taught it to me, and it works.
    SILENT Auction, LOUD Auction, CASH bar, Live entertainment.
    1. For your silent auction you will need to find partners in the community. I always swap the “exposure” of the event, and the media that comes along with it. A newsletter to all participants with all the local partners, logo’s and a blast in the Online media forums. Look to offer an equal ROI on any Donations
    2. For the loud auction, you need to track down the profile items, the high value items, and the “feel good” items. This could be a post on its own, but I will say, if you know your audience, the Loud Auction is your best Money maker.
    3. Find a low-cost, high return entertainment option. Consider hiring a band and having 4 – 5 singers or local artist give 3 songs. This is an easy way to spread the charity and not incur a large cost.
    4. USE YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH, and make sure you have all voices on hand selling.
  3. Gamble on a venue, or use your own. You need to know what kind of space you are dealing with, how big, kitchen facilities, caterers, etc.
    1. Pick a Top 5 spaces that you think will work for you.
    2. List the Challenges with each (small kitchen, 1 washroom etc.)
    3. Go for free! You never know until you ask, and I have landed a FREE Space on the back of a great pitch. Never hurts to try.
    4. If you have a venue, keep it in-house and track everything!
  4. Find out who cares. Unfortunately, your cause is not everyone’s cause, and you will need to target “Those who care” first, if you have any hope of raising funds.
    1. Frame in the “ideal client”, what do they look like, where do they work, etc..
    2. Create a list 3x the size of your capacity for the event to target.
    3. See next point.
  5. Figure out the path to communicate with those who care. I have never had a successful event without targeting and being a “sniper” for the right audience.
    1. Just sending out emails is not enough, some like “snail mail”, you need to find out who is who.
    2. Consider 2 points of contact per person. Email and a physical invitation, Facebook and Mobile message. etc.
    3. Sell it, Sell it, Sell it…for charities sake.
  6. Be on Theme! Too often these events can confuse people. A theme, or a space that forces a theme (museum, art gallery, etc) is a desirable thing as it keeps your guest intrigued and happy, focused and comfortable, hopefully enough to sign a cheque.
    1. I always work with the catering company on this, they have table setting and linens that can DRIVE your whole them and make things very easy on the support staff in the mean time.
  7. Integrate the Professionals. We are in the time of specialists, staffing, catering, cocktails, they all exist and can be great partners in any event. Do not try to invent the wheel, budget for the professionals where you can and enlist their help where you can’t afford them.
    1. Companies like;
      1. B.A.M Marketing Solutions for staffing
      2. RedTree Catering for food and staffing
      3. (plug) for specialty beverage programming.
  8. Have a Master List at the venue. On the day of the event, chaos will always ensue, be calm and run from a master list. This will create peace of mind and give the workers and staff a place of reference when you are on the phone with final arrangements.
    1. List decorations that need to be finished on theme.
    2. List the Staffing “Zones” and who is where.
    3. Key times listed.
    4. Coat Check Policies.
    5. Closest parking.
    6. 2 Taxi Numbers.
    7. Master List of RSVP’s.
    8. Every auction item up for grabs and the cost value of the items.
    9. The list of entertainment and timing.
    10. Key Phone Numbers.

Charitable hospitality is a wonderful things when executed correctly, and with a plan. Don’t over complicate things, stay calm and follow my 8 simple steps to Charitable Hospitality.

get to doing!


One thought on “Charitable Hospitality, an 8 Step “How-To”.”

  1. Tis the season where charity comes at great cost, and I’ve always been interested in capitalizing on the commodity that is the generosity of the wealthy, but was never quite sure how to go about it. This post has given me the (forgive me) ‘balls’ to seriously consider taking on a larger scale event. You make it seem so easy. Inspiring.

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