Marketing & Promotions

How to Host a Charity Event

When Love Those Nails hosted a charity event benefiting breast cancer research, the owners turned to nail technician Beth Van Blarcom to coordinate.Van Blarcom, a former conference manager, shares her tips on making a salon fund­ raiser a success.

We began planning our charity event benefiting the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Foundation some time in September last year. We selected November 29, a Sunday, as the date because all the technicians would be available and the salon would normally be closed.

The first thing I did was contact the American Cancer Society (ACS) local office and ask for assistance. They gave me some good ideas and agreed to send literature on breast cancer prevention and information on how to do breast self-exams in the form of waterproof shower cards. I also requested the enamel "pink ribbon" pins that ACS sells for $5 each. They agreed to send the pins to us on a consignment basis.

I then contacted the local newspapers and radio stations, asking to speak to someone about public service announcements (PSAs). One station called me back and asked if we could do a 15-minute spot on their community show on Sunday mornings. Great publicity for a fundraising event! Most radio stations and newspapers require notice 15 to 30 days in advance for PSAs and want information sent in writing.

I also contacted local businesses and asked if they would agree to donate refreshments or raffle prizes. You should start this at least 30 days before the event. This is especially important if your event is planned over the holiday season, as many businesses are overrun with requests for charity donations around this time.

Most of the businesses I contacted were very happy to oblige. I included the names of businesses supporting our event on all the fliers we put up around the neighborhood. In addition to local businesses, Creative Nail Design, OPI, and our beauty supply distributor donated products to be raffled off. Raffle prizes ranged in value from about $15 to more than $200. Chances were $1 each and one ticket was good for all raffle prizes. In total we had over 30 prizes and we ran raffles about every 30 minutes the day of the event. The names and addresses provided on the raffle tickets sold were later added to our mailing list. With three weeks left to go, we had already raised about $100 just from the sales of pins and raffle tickets.

About two weeks before the event, I asked neighborhood businesses to post our notices. Use this as an opportunity to mention to these business owners that you are still accepting donations. Business owners want something in return for their donation. Assure them that you will include the name of their business in all future notices posted, and be sure to follow through on your promise.

It's also a good idea to open a temporary savings account so you don't have to co-mingle the money you raise with your salon funds. Open this account in the name of your salon and the name of the charity. This way, at tax time, you can show that you used the money for a fundraising event. The bank that holds your company account will probably do this at little or no cost to you provided you have a minimum balance. After the event, close the account with a money order made payable to tire charity.

Ask to have a representative from the charity attend your  event.  We  were  originally promised that a regional director from the ACS would attend. Unfortunately, she became ill and could not make it. Luckily one of our clients happened to be an ACS volunteer and she was able to help up out. Clients who do charity work are a great source of information and are usually happy to lend a hand. Another one of our clients, a breast cancer survivor, was our receptionist for the day.

On the day of the event we offered manicures at a special price of $ 10 (our regular manicure price is $14). Our doors were open from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and all services were on a first-come, first-served basis. Refreshments were donated by a local bakery, cafe, and even a local gas station, which donated sodas and gourmet coffee.

Once It's Over

After the event, it is important to send thank you letters to all the businesses that participated. This letter should not only thank the business for its support, but should also reveal the event's success. The businesses need these letters for tax purposes to show a donation was made.

Most charities, especially well-known ones, have someone who is in charge of publicity. When you present the money to the charity, schedule it in advance and ask to have their publicity officer join the representative who will pick up the check. In our case, ACS wrote an article for a local newspaper on the event and how successful it was. Of course you can always write your own press releases and submit them to local newspapers and industry trade magazines. Be sure to take photos and submit them as well.

Planning such an event takes a great deal of time and very close attention to detail. Everyone wants to help, but there needs to be one main coordinator who keeps track of it all. Too many people making decisions on a project like this can send it spinning out of control all too quickly.

We raised over $980 for the Making Stride Foundation for Breast Cancer Research, not bad for the first year. Next year, I hope to more than double that amount.

Add Celebrity Status to Your Event

There's no doubt that charity fundraisers can improve you salon's 'mage as well as your Dusiness, but adding a celebrity to the event can create an even bigger draw of potential clients and increase you- exposure. of course, findings  a celebrity may prove easier said than done Once you've designed your fundraiser, the best way to go about getting a celebrity to  participate : to approach rational charitable organizations rather thin local chanties. The advantage to finding a celebrity erectly through the charitable organization is that almost every national charity has connection, with celebrities. Many of these celebrities are regular volunteers with local chapters, which makes your job a lot easier For example, they may be in touch with professional athletes, political candidates, media personalities and other locality famous people that consistently endorse fundraiser events if the event will bring in enough money, the chanty is likely to provide you with a celebrity. A very small event win unlikely be strong enough to attract   their   available time.

When attempting to beck a professional' athlete. start by contacting 'he pub relations or community relations department All professional teams ha ye these departments which work with  charitable events and have access to players. For individual athletes such as golfers or skiers, you need to go though their agent or professional association. For instance, contact the PGA for a professional golfer Typically, it is more difficult to attract a player in season due to travel, practice, and games. Make your request at least six months in advance of the event.

Consider all possibilities for celebrities including local, national, radio TV and political personalities as well as salon celebrities such as a traveling  platform nail care artist Another way to get a celebrity is to fake it with a celebrity look-alike. Elvis, Chen Marilyn Monroe, or other look-alikes can mingle with your guests and offer autographs and photographs for a donation.

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