Event fundraising offers many opportunities to get a range of people and communities involved in your organisation’s work.
Whether it’s a summer fair, a gala ball, a music concert, or an auction (to name just a few) events can raise awareness of your cause, reach a new audience, and give people a fantastic experience all while raising vital funds for your cause.
In most cases the premises on which the event will be held must have a current premises licence under the Licensing Act 2003. Under this act certain short-term, small-scale events may be held, provided the organisers send a Temporary Event Notice to the local licensing authority and the police 10 working days before the event. Depending on the type of event you are running, you may also need to contact your local authority, the police or local ambulance service too.
Licences cover the supply and sale of alcohol, the performance of various types of regulated entertainment (including live or recorded music), and the supply of hot food and drink late at night. Guidance is available from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
It is important to carry out a risk assessment on all elements of the event activities and venue before organising an event. This will help you foresee any potential problems and how they can be avoided.
Organisations also need to ensure that appropriate insurance policies are in place. Specific cover may be required, for example, for third party, weather protection, venue, public liability.
You can talk with with relevant bodies and organisations who have organised similar events. Event organisers must ensure that the appropriate applications are made for licences from the local authority or other relevant bodies in order to formalise plans and to ensure all parties are in agreement before progressing.
Consent should be obtained in writing and in advance. For example:
Public Liability Insurance is not mandatory, but it may be prudent to get if your event is open to the public. If hiring equipment or a service, you will also need to check that the provider has full insurance before signing the contract.
Any food being supplied must comply with the Food Safety Act 1990 and the Food Safety (General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 and other regulations applying to specific types of food. For further details contact the Environmental Health Department of the relevant local authority.
In general, the Food Hygiene and Labelling Regulations don’t apply to food that isn't prepared as part of a business. So, most food sold for charity won't need to be labelled, including food sold at one-off events. However, with food that is regularly packaged and sold for charity (e.g.jars of jam or boxed cakes), regulations may apply even when there is no profit.
Even if there is no legal requirement to label the food, it can be done voluntarily. Ideally, give the product name, a list of ingredients and details about ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction, such as nuts. Ensure the information is accurate.
The requirements for having an inspection depend on the size and frequency of the event. Regulations can vary from authority to authority so it is best to check with your local authority for specific events. To find out more about what regulations apply to your situation, contact the trading standards or environmental health department at your local authority.
You could also check with the charity's insurance provider regarding provisions for cover in the unlikely event of food poisoning.
The Food Standards Agency also provides information and guidance on safe food preparation and transport.
As part of your planning for the event, you should think about any potential environmental impact that could result, especially if the event is outside and in a public place – for example walks, cycle rides, mountain climbs. Take steps to reduce the environmental impact – ensuring that all rubbish and litter are cleaned up and that you use reusable or recycled material where possible.
We advise making event participants and guests aware of the cancellation procedure at the point of signing up and of any financial penalties they may then incur. Organisations should put in place appropriate administrative and financial procedures in case individual places or tickets are cancelled, or the whole event is cancelled. A contingency plan to cover eventualities such as bad weather should also be formulated. All contracts with external contractors, suppliers and sponsors should include clauses relating to cancellations and contingency plans.
If the event is cancelled or if it is postponed and a participant is then unable to take part or chooses not to,take part, it is critical that the participant contacts donors and ask if they are still happy for monies to go the organisation, and if not the donation must be refunded to them.
You will also need to think about accessibility. Is the venue fully accessible to all? It is important to make sure you address any concerns before opening the event to the public.
It is generally the responsibility of the venue to complete an access assessment and to take 'reasonable' steps to prevent discrimination but there is no fixed definition of 'reasonable'.
You may wish to have an assessment completed yourself or make sure you choose a venue which will enable access for all. Access auditors may be able to help you establish the venue's accessibility.
Event organisers must carry out a risk assessment to determine if a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check is warranted. If the event requires the organisation’s employees, contractors or volunteers to have unsupervised (i.e. parents and/or carers do not attend) access to children and/or vulnerable adults, organisations should, where appropriate, carry out background checks and obtain Disclosure at the appropriate level (Standard or Enhanced) from the Criminal Records Bureau before the event. These checks can take some time to obtain and this should be factored in to the planning timetable.
You should also consider best practice guidance on supervision ratios and obtaining consent from parents, guardians or carers to the participant taking part in the event. Although not written with fundraising events in mind, the Department For Education has issued detailed guidance for schools on the health and safety of pupils on educational visits.
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