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Charity Fundraising

Just as a dog isn’t just for Christmas, so is charity fundraising not just for Red Nose Day or the annual Poppy Appeal. It’s vitally important that you become part of the community in which you trade and there is no better way than becoming a focus for charity fundraising. Research by the World Federation of Advertisers shows that 76% of consumers think it is perfectly acceptable for businesses to make money whilst supporting charitable causes.

In a separate independent survey commissioned for CAMRA and PubAid by TNS in 2013, research showed that more people would use their local pubs if more charity events were organised. 21% of all adults agreed with this statement but it was an amazing 32% of young adults aged 18-24 who said they would use their local more regularly if more events supported charities.

You can combine fundraising with any number of other events, beer festivals, party nights, local festivities, bank holidays … the important part is to raise as much money as possible and involve as many customers and members of the wider public in the event as well.

Sponsoring is a tried and trusted method of raising funds, walks & runs, parachute & bungee jumps, silences & marathon sing-a-longs, the list is endless; some will be centred on your pub some not. The trick for your business is to try and focus the attention on your pub or at least to host the end of event party in your pub. The last sponsored event in my pub was organised by a group of regular customers (sponsored no-shaving with the shave-off on Xmas Day) raised over £3,500 and was featured in the local press and on local TV.

There’s no easier way to raise money for charity than holding a raffle. At least 50% of any money raised should go to charity; the balance can be used to fund prizes etc. Encourage your local businesses to provide prizes (it’s a good opportunity for them as they get a mention in your pub). Make sure your customers know how much money the pub is raising and as with all your activities tell your local press.

Hosting a Charity Race Night is popular with customers, relatively easy to organise and can be great for raising money for charity. Your contribution to the nominated charity need not be limited to cash it can include provision of a light finger buffet on the night as well. You can buy the video/DVD and all you need for the night for a reasonable amount, but, you will need a master of ceremonies (approach your local bookmaker and get them to help by running the Tote for you). Produce a race card and get local businesses to sponsor the various races and again let the local press know how much you raised.

Another great night for your customers is a Casino night, bring a little of the glamour of casinos to your pub, dressing up for the part, betting with fun currency, cocktails and canapés to raise money for charity. Kits are available and there are entertainment agencies that provide the complete night including kit and croupiers. Don’t forget the local press.

A Charity Auction Night can be a fun and exciting night with customers being encouraged to purchase products in the lead up to the auction to collect tokens to bid with (for instance every time they buy a pint of featured lager they get an auction token. Offer one very good “lot” and run a “reverse auction” in advance (customers offer sealed bids and the customer who makes the lowest unique bid wins the auction). Get local businesses to donate auction items and approach your local auction house and see if you can get an auctioneer to donate their time to run the auctions. Did I mention the local press yet?

A Christmas Raffle is very easy to organise, put a large grid behind the bar, get customers to buy squares, then when it’s time to draw it (Boxing Day is my favourite) all you have to do is cut the grid up (no ticket books to worry about) and fold them over into the draw bucket. Offer prizes from your product range some to be claimed at the winner’s convenience (Sunday Lunch for Four, Dinner for Two etc) and some “instant wins” (free pint, free shot etc). A great interest builder is to offer A Free Pint a Day for the whole of the following year (you can do the same for January). Think about how many hundreds of pints get spilled and slopped during a year in your pub if you think this is extravagant; just by getting staff to be a little more careful will take care of this consumption.

A favourite of mine is to hold a mini-music festival in aid of charity. You can often get local bands who are keen to break onto the music circuit to play for free (or a beer or two). Contact OxFam for details of how to hold an “OxJam” music night.

A weekly meat raffle is a great way of continual fundraising; these traditional draws are a great way of building regular trade. Offer up a decent joint of meat on a Saturday or on a Friday a breakfast pack (bacon, sausages, eggs, beans etc) for that morning after Saturday fry-up! Keep the price per ticket reasonable (50 pence / £1) and don’t forget the vegetarians (offer up an alternative such as a nutroast or Glamorgan sausages).

If you’d like to know how pubs give to charity then PubAid carried out a survey of pubs to find out about their charity work:

  • 85% of pubs engaged in charity fundraising
  • On average pubs raise £2,742 a year for charity
  • The top 5 named charities with the most support are:
    • Help for Heroes
    • Air Ambulance
    • Cancer Research UK
    • RNLI
    • British Legion (Poppy Appeal)
  • Quiz nights/ raffles are the most popular form of event used to raise money
  • The increased sense of community that involvement in charitable activities
    provides is considered the most important benefit by respondent pubs

Top Tips For Charity Fundraising

Let the customers nominate their favourite charities and then choose one to be your house charity for the whole year. Every time you hold a raffle, run a fundraiser or have a party night and put the collection bucket out the proceeds go to the house charity. You will be amazed at how much will accumulate over a year. Collect all the monies and remit them to the charity as you go along (for the sake of propriety and transparency and get a receipt) then at the end of the year tot up the total amount raised and have your bank issue a “charity cheque” for you to present to a representative of the charity (photo-opp with the local press!)

So as not to alienate customers whose favourite charity did not become your house charity you could contact those charities for collecting tins to put on the bar.

Always inform the charity you are intending to raise funds for (whether you go down the house charity or individual charity routes) they will often be able to provide empty belly posters, leaflets and other POS for you to use in the pub to promote their activities. They will often have a local branch and their volunteers are always a good source of stewards or bucket shakers for your events.

If you have a pool / football / darts or any other team playing for your pub or using your pub as their clubhouse then get them involved in your fundraising.

I have, in the past, been taken in by bogus charities (offering collection tins and raffle kits) and have seen mine and my customers’ goodwill end up in the pocket of criminals. Always ask to see the representatives’ bona fides, including their Charity Commission Registered Charity Number; check with the charity first before agreeing to any activity and also check your local PubWatch and Police to see if they have any adverse information about the charity concerned. (If you do find out they are bogus report them to the police and let your colleagues in the trade and local community know about them too!)

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