Holding a benefit is a way to help when someone you know is in need of financial assistance due to an unexpected hardship or tragedy. Some ideas for benefits include dinners, auctions, garage sales and concerts. Put some twists on these ideas as you think of ways to raise money. People will want to help you organize the benefit or attend it in order to help make it a success, so be sure to ask for volunteers and to spread the word about the benefit in your community.

Communicate with the person or family for which you want to raise money. Tell them you would like to hold a benefit. If they are not receptive, do not force the issue.

Gather a team of volunteers who are willing to help you with the benefit. Each person should ideally have expertise in a particular area, such as marketing, organizing, powers of persuasion (people to help/donate) and managing. People who have contacts with local businesses are also valuable to have on board as they can help persuade businesses to donate goods and services to make the benefit a success.

Hold a meeting with the volunteer team to decide when the benefit event is going to be held and what type of event it will be. Choose a theme. Think of some ideas for where the benefit could be held and how much you want to raise. The latter element will determine in large part what kind of event you will hold. Events that are easily organized such as community picnics and barbecues can be held in public parks, and they generally attract large numbers of people. Ask an up-and-coming local band to perform free of charge in return for exposure to their talent. Organizers can sell tickets to the event.

It is important to have a date set and what type of benefit it will be as early in the process as possible so that local media can be informed. Specific details can be supplied to the media closer to the event.

Secure a location for the benefit. If it is going to be held outside in a public place, make sure to get a permit, if necessary, from city authorities. Ask schools or other public buildings if you can rent their auditoriums or large meeting rooms for little or no cost if you must do the benefit inside. Contact local businesses to request a donation of space in their building if they have appropriately-sized and equipped rooms.

Spread the word of your event. Contact the local media with details. Put up fliers and invitations on community bulletin boards, in businesses and in the mail. Take out a community event ad in the local newspaper (which may be free). Leverage the power of the Internet to market the event: Facebook events, Facebook statuses, My Space, e-mail, Twitter, a website for the event, GoFundraiser.org (online donation tool), YourCause.com (online fundraising management tool) to name a few. Newspapers, radio and television stations may be willing to donate some air time or a more significant print space than just the community calendar when you have more details to offer about the event.

Contact local businesses to sponsor your event. Ask for donations of in-kind goods or services for everything from paper cups to drink from at the benefit to graphic design of the fliers. Ask a restaurant if it is willing to donate food for your event. An extra way to raise money for the person or family is to ask businesses to put jars out describing the situation and asking for cash donations. When you tell the business owner or manager what you are hoping to achieve from your benefit, many will jump on board to help.

Thank everyone who helped organize, donated, volunteered and spread the word of the event. Put a thank-you notification in the newspaper and online. Include how much was raised and a statement from the person or family benefited, if one is given.