How to Organize a Benefit

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Benefit organizing takes a lot of time, but it's a very satisfying accomplishment when the benefit is successful. But before you plan anything, determine the type of benefit you will organize. If you're doing a silent auction, you'll need donated artworks; if it's a music-related event, someone must contact top-drawing local performers, who typically book two to three months in advance. Each choice raises different logistical issues.

Preliminary Planning

Step 1

Determine how many volunteers are required. The numbers multiply exponentially if you're planning a gala with elaborate meals and drinks, which must be set up, serviced and broken down again.

Step 2

Choose a venue. Take into account factors that affect attendance -- such as proximity to public transportation. Make a short list of three or four choices.

Step 3

Determine how much money will be raised and how the goal will be reached.

Delegating the Details

Step 1

Get commitments from the chosen venue and any participating performers. The more complicated the event, the farther ahead you need to plan; two to six months is the norm.

Step 2

Recruit a committee of friends, coworkers and business acquaintances to handle different aspects of the event. Schedule weekly meetings to keep track of the planning and head off any last-minute issues.

Step 3

Seek sponsors to help absorb the costs associated with the benefit, from door prizes to food and PA systems. Most sponsors will swap services in return for a promotion.

Step 4

Try to settle your committee, sponsor and venue lineup within the first couple of months of organizing. Start looking for volunteers.

Getting the Word Out

Step 1

Approach press contacts about doing an advance story on the benefit. If the space isn't available, be prepared to submit a half-page press release outlining the details. Check into a live remote broadcast from the event site with your local radio station.

Step 2

Prepare appropriate display materials, including flyers, handbills and posters, for volunteers to pass out or put up. Make sure they know where to legally stick flyers and posters.

Step 3

Put up a website to answer questions about the benefit. Include major sponsors, the event lineup and activities, and how the fundraising is coming along.

Reflecting on Success

Step 1

Sit down with your committee after the event to discuss what worked, or didn't. Follow through with your sponsors, and get their feedback.

Step 2

Send out cards or a summary letter to thank volunteers.

Step 3

Post the fine details on the website, including how much money was raised, how the beneficiary fared and -- if you created an ongoing event -- details that future volunteers and sponsors need to know in gearing up for next year.