How to Set up Your Hall?

Figuring out how to set up your hall can be tricky but we have some great tips.  Make sure that when you are setting up the tables, they are not all in straight lines like you would see at a bingo hall. Be creative and funky and change it up a bit. Maybe even draw out a layout ahead of time. From experience, we have found that you should have zones for everything: food, games, dance floor, seating area, bar, etc. This makes it easier for your guests to navigate and not miss anything. It also spreads the guests throughout the hall more evenly which will prevent people from feeling closed in and congested.  You want people to mingle and walk around rather than stay in one area the whole night.

You should put games like Blackjack, Poker, Roulette and Craps up against the wall so that your guests cannot go beside or behind the dealer and cheat. It is fun to place games like the Jail & Bail in the middle of the room, since it is free standing and will make people notice it.  Don’t throw this game in a dark corner – be strategic and place it where people will notice it!  A huge dance floor is not needed; you want the attention to be on the games, which is where you make your money. As games start to close at the end of the night around midnight, that is when the dancing may really take off, but probably not before.

Advertising Fundraisers – Can I share my Event?

Advertising FundraisersWe understand that many people, despite the regulations, still share their event with anybody who will listen – so with the general public.  Something like – “Please invite your family and friends to attend my event” is a big no-no.   Advertising Fundraisers through social media is technically not allowed unless you do so following their guidelines.  Advertising with a Facebook group is allowed though as long as it is NOT open for the public to see.  Taken directly from the AGCO website, they said this:

Acceptable forms of notification may include social media (not available for viewing by the general public, must be a personal guest list), private invitation, etc.

They recommend to keep a list of ALL people who bought a ticket, and ALL people who said they will buy their ticket at the door.  It cannot be advertised to the public and instead seen as an invite only event.  So just ensure your settings are accurate when setting up a Facebook Event, and you are good to go! Most newspapers now know not to allow advertisements related to Fundraisers because of some legislation that went through in 2013.

What Food for Fundraisers should I offer?

Food for FundraisersBringing along Food for Fundraisers is a daunting task as there are so many mouths to feed!  You can bring your own food to the hall, use the caterer at the hall, or find your own caterer. Nobody expects you to make everything, so do not be afraid to ask people to help prepare the food and have a sort of pot luck.  Lots of people may offer you help but not know how to help.  Ask them to bring an appetizer or even better – give them a few options to choose from.

Some great party food suggestions are: pizza, cracker and cheese trays, deli sandwiches (although these can be a lot of work and money), vegetable trays, fruit trays, potato salad, etc. Try to get foods that you can prepare before hand; do not have to be heated up when you get there; and that are easy for cleanup too.  Use disposable containers or foil pans as you have zero clean up when done!  You might even want to consider Roma Pizza, as you do not have to worry about ordering hot pizza to be delivered at a certain time, and this pizza is amazing!  Just pick it up from their Barton Street location in Hamilton the day of.

We see a big trend in pig roasts and pulled pork – we are confused by this.  That is expensive!  Your guests will be just as happy to have some cheaper options that don’t include meat which will cost you an arm and a leg.  Plus with all the vegans and vegetarians taking over the world, you don’t want to neglect their needs. 🙂

Whatever you do, do not appear “chintzy.” The days of chips, cheesies, and pop won’t cut it on their own! Buy several different munchies that you can put around on the tables, as you may not serve dinner/snacks for a couple of hours, and you want to keep your guests happy while they are there.  Encourage people to stay by having a good variety of foods.

Remember to also bring along enough plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives, paper towels, napkins, etc.  Many people forget about these small things until the week of – just keep your eyes open for sales and stock up!  You can always return what you don’t open so hang onto the receipts.

Designate 1-2 people to be in charge of clearing the used plates and cutlery throughout the night to cut down on the time needed at the end of the night for cleanup.  Designate someone else to refill chip bowls, and have several helpers in the kitchen to look after the food.

Best tips for Selling Admission Tickets?

Find people who are outgoing, good in the field of sales, who are well liked and know lots of people, are not afraid to ask people for things to sell your admission tickets. You should get family members to sell to family members and their friends; friends to sell to their family and friends; coworkers to sell to coworkers and their friends, etc.  Make a list of everyone you know, go through your phone contacts, go through your Facebook contacts, talk to neighbours, talk to coworkers, talk to people in your social circles at school, sporting events, or church.  Keep talking and always have your tickets handy!!

You might want to put on the ticket itself, what the major door prize will be.  That way if people have bought the ticket but are contemplating going, this will remind them of why they need to go!

Do not have just one person selling the tickets as this is a lot of pressure and not fair to them. Get many people selling them, as it is a lot of work and you will sell more this way. Do not count on people showing up at the door either just because you told them when it would be – always sell tickets in advance even if you are certain they will come. Many people will buy tickets just to show support, but will have no intention of going to the event.

You may want to consider using a ticket spreadsheet to keep track of who is selling which numbered tickets. Encourage as many people as possible to pay upfront, which will help prevent you from confirming an inaccurate number of guests with the hall.  You might also want to offer everyone that buys a ticket, to be able to win a door prize, even if they are not there.  So rip that admission ticket part off for the door prize, and set it aside for them. This will encourage people to buy tickets, and maybe more than one if the prize is good enough!

Some people offer a special rate for couples such as this: $10 for one person, or $15 per couple.  We think that the spouse is going to come no matter what – it would be weird if you approached your aunt and she only purchased one ticket and not one for her husband.  So if she is going to buy two anyhow, don’t offer a special rate.  If you are in the Niagara region, the going rate is $5 per ticket.  Once you get to Grimsby/Stoney Creek/Hamilton, the price is more like $10.  Once you get to Burlington/Oakville, the price is more like $15 each.  Don’t get us started on Toronto prices… but we see them closer to the $20 range.  If you include a full dinner at a fancy hall, then feel free to charge more.  We like the $10 price range – as it doesn’t scare people away!

What Kind of a Float Do I Need?

First of all, let’s simplify things.  Do not allow bets of nickels or dimes or quarters at games.  This will eliminate having to have a separate float at each game, and to keep rolls of coins at each game .  Instead just deal in loonies and toonies and bills.  Keep it simple man!

At the front door when people enter, you will need a large float there to break people’s twenties because that is what most people will start with.  Consider renting our Deluxe Cash Box as it separates all the change and bills effectively.  You may have 10 people show up at once so you need to make it a smooth transition into the hall and take their money fast!

If you make the admission ticket price $12 for example, you will probably have to keep breaking people’s twenties over and over so plan to have a ton of change.  If instead you made the admission price an even number like $10 or $15 or $20, this is more efficient and you will be less likely to make a calculation error.

As far as how much change to prepare for, we really cannot answer that as it depends on how many people you have coming, how much you are charging for games and drinks, etc.  Money is money, so if you have too much “change” it is not as though it will go to waste.  You just trade it back in for bigger bills when you are done.  Just ensure that the front door has a ton of change, and each person manning a game or selling raffle tickets or jello shooters will wear a money apron, so they too will need a small float.  Throughout the night they can get more change if they run out from the front door people who carry a larger float.  You will want them to empty out the money collected thus far too, to minimize the amount of cash being carried around and possibly lost!

If you are playing a Toonie Toss game, you CAN reuse the toonies, so don’t go crazy on having TONS of toonie change.  People never think of this!

How to get Donations & Prizes for Fundraisers

First let me apologize for the picture.  It was just too cute to not post here!  We certainly do not recommend you beg lol.  But you are probably wondering how to get Donations, and we have some great tips.

This is a tricky task – it can be hard to ask for free stuff sometimes, but you have to do it! A party is not a party without prizes!  It is imperative that you understand how to get Donations for Fundraisers.  Think about what kind of donations would best suit your event’s needs. If this party is for a couple in their early 30’s, chances are there will be many couples there in the same age group, so choose age appropriate gifts.  A gift card to Laser Tag is probably not going to excite too many people unless they have children nor will it encourage them to pay for a game as a way to win this prize.

How to Start

  • Create a list of friends, family, and co-workers who may be able to provide donations for your event – those who may own their own business or hold a management role.
  • Do not be afraid to ask people, and probably the best way to do it is face to face rather than on the phone or email. It puts people on the spot a little more and they are more likely to say yes, since it is so easy to type “sorry I cannot help you out”.
  • Make it a team effort and get all of your committee members to help.
  • Next make a list of local businesses that you hope can provide you with gift certificates or free stuff, and that you think your guests would like to bet on.
  • You can always try some free online ads begging for help on some Facebook Stag & Doe pages or through Kijiji, but you won’t get too much of a response that way.
  • One of the best ways to get donations at a company where you do not have an “in” is either by asking for it in person at their place of business or by writing a professional letter.
  • Any mid-sized to large company may have to clear their donations through their head office with the use of your letter anyhow, so this is probably the best avenue.

Letter Do’s and Don’ts:

  • First of all, do not hand write your letter!  Type it up and print in advance.  Keep it in your car and when you are in the area, drop it off!  Give to your committee members too if they live close to the location.
  • The letter should say:  who you are, the event you are planning, when the event is, why you thought of this particular company, why you love their company, your favourite product, how you anticipate people will react to their gift card/prize, etc.
  • Include an actual ticket of the Fundraiser to accompany it – it just shows it is more legitimate.
  • Do not make your letter sound vague (I am requesting a donation) but instead be straight to the point and clearly state what you want (I am requesting a gift certificate for $50).
  • Do not make it too generic like this one (I am asking for a donation to my stag and doe and appreciate your help). Boring!  Make yours stand out because they literally get these weekly if not daily, so make yours stand out from the rest, so they remember you.  Make it personal with something they can relate to you about.  Talk about how you and your hubby met if it is a romantic story, the kids you have, how much you love shopping there, or a memory of the first time you purchased from them, or a favourite product that you cannot live without.  Add a picture of you with your spouse or kids, as it is makes it much more personal.
  • Just remember you are in competition with a LOTTTTT of others, so make your letter and story special.
  • Sign the letter and include your contact information

Some Other Do’s and Dont’s for Donation Requests

  • Go in person wherever possible!  It is too easy for people to ignore your email or voicemail, or reply with “sorry cannot help you”.  Always bring a typed letter for them, that has their company name printed on it – make it look like an official request.
  • Don’t waste your time going to the mall and talking to the managers of places like LuLu Lemon or the Gap which are mostly corporately owned.  They won’t do squat for you!  Those types of companies only deal with super large fundraisers for the United Way as an example and get inundated with tons of donation requests, so they won’t have time for your tiny Stag & Doe.  Sorry, but it’s the truth!
  • Stick to restaurants that stand alone and are not in a food court – such as Boston Pizza or another one that you frequent.
  • You can attempt to try out some Wineries or smaller businesses that you frequent, such as your massage therapist.
  • Splitsville in Hamilton, Steam Whistle in Toronto, and Hooters in Niagara Falls religiously donate without a fight, so go with them too.  You can email Steam Whistle and they will mail the tickets to you!
  • You can try Molson if you are selling their beer – the usually donate some paraphernalia but not 100% of the time.
  • You are better off talking to businesses, that YOU do business with.  Get your committee members to help as well, as they will have special businesses that they do business with and might have a relationship with.  That helps!
  • Get the person’s name that you left your letter with and thank them for their time.
  • Then make sure to follow up within 3 days of them receiving the letter, but saying – I am just checking in to see if the request has been reviewed as I am excited to see if you can help!

Other Ways to Get Prizes

  • Do not rely solely on donations!
  • You may have to spend some money to make money, so look for the sales. BBQ’s, TV’s, iPads, concert tickets, sporting event tickets, gift cards, or even gift baskets are great prizes and they are things that you can usually find on sale.
  • Never pay full price for prizes… there are deals everywhere.

How Many Prizes Should I Get

  • Be weary of one thing – sometimes people think the more prizes, the better.
  • It always looks impressive when the prize tables are absolutely loaded with loot.
  • Consider that it takes time to draw a ticket for a prize, so more prizes mean more time drawing, and guests can become agitated.
  • If you have a lot of smaller prizes, consider consolidating them into “Prize Packs” or letting the DJ give some away for spot dances – a great way to get your guests up dancing and enjoying themselves.
  • A good problem to have, is that you have TOO many prizes to give away.
  • If this is your case, then use these prizes for games, rather than giving away money.
  • Plan to have 1 huge Grand Prize, 2-3 smaller but still big prizes, and then a Raffle Table of about 20 -30 prizes.  You can consolidate some of them into baskets as we mentioned before.  Too many, and it will take too long to coordinate.  Too little, and nobody will want to buy tickets!

Carrie (owner of Jack of all Spades) just had her own Stag & Doe in June 2018, and 99.9% of her prizes were donated.  All.  Of.  Them.  She bought an LCBO gift card for the toonie toss, but besides that, she was not out of pocket for anything.  She worked hard, and worked for months getting prizes, she got a quadrillion “NO’s”, but her persistence paid off.  Definitely get help though, as its a huge undertaking.  Good luck with requesting Donations for Fundraisers!

Delegating Jobs for your Volunteers

You definitely cannot do this alone so you need to recruit lots of help!  Delegate as much as you can.  We find that people want to help, they just don’t know how.  So if you can assign certain jobs for people, they will feel helpful and confident that they know what to do.

You will need helpers to:

  • Pick up the games from us
  • Set up the games
  • Organize seating & tables
  • Get munchies on all the tables and refill during the night
  • Run the games + relief workers for the games
  • Sell the drinks (if needed)
  • Sell raffle tickets & jello shooters (walking around the room selling)
  • Collect admission tickets and money for draws
  • Do some food prep
  • Serve the food on the buffet table
  • Clear the plates
  • People to set up your music and take care of that (if you did not hire a DJ)
  • Look after the cash that will begin to pile up!

These volunteers should be people you can trust (probably family, coworkers, or close friends), as they will be handling a lot of cash. You should give them free entrance to the event and a couple of free drinks. Ask them not to indulge in alcohol until they are off the clock especially if they are handling money. We offer Dealers to run the games for you – just ask us for a quote.

Most importantly, you need to create a schedule!  It will state when your helpers will arrive, when certain games are going to begin and finish, who is running them, who is the backup, when the food will be served, when last call is, who is taking the games home, who is packing up the food, etc.

You may want to post this schedule the night of the event for the volunteers so that everyone can stick to it. Keep in mind that these volunteers will want to have fun as well so give them some free time to enjoy the party.

How do I Choose the Right Games?

Obviously we are a bit biased when we suggest that you have games, but the games serve a dual purpose as it provides entertainment but it also generates money for you too.  We put together a few packages for you that are fantastic for Fundraisers.  If you are having a Stag & Doe, please check out our Packages for that, as there are great savings here!

When you are choosing your games, keep in mind that you may want to introduce different games throughout the night to keep it interesting, rather than doing them all at the same time all night. As an example, when guests arrive they may do one round of each game and then sit at a table for the night. But if you keep bringing out new games and get people excited about new tournaments or prizes to win, they will be more likely to keep getting back off their comfortable chair!

Pick enough games that will keep your guests entertained all night, not just for half an hour. This is hard to remember because the idea of making lots of money may keep getting in the way, but the real purpose of the night is to entertain your guests and celebrate the whole reason you are throwing a Fundraiser. If you remember this and provide your guests with great entertainment all night long, the profits will just come.

When it comes to deciding WHICH games will work, just ask yourself what you would enjoy playing if at a Fundraiser.  You know your crowd best, so pick games that you think they will enjoy – pick some that are more popular with the ladies, and a few for the men.  Have a good mix so that you appeal to everyone, so that means some that are super challenging, and some that are no brainers.  Have a good variety and you will be set.  Ask us for help if you don’t know where to start.

What Should I do for Music?

Music relaxes people and it encourages them to stay longer and spend more money. A home stereo, i-Pod, or using Spotify playlists will work if you are under a tight budget, but that can be a lot of work to prepare the songs in advance or have a buddy look after the music selection throughout the night. If you hire a professional DJ, they can help keep your guests happy as well as keep them at the hall longer, which is key. DJ’s are trained to entertain their guests, and they can actually help you earn more money by making announcements throughout the night informing your guests of a new raffle or game that is about to start. Give them a schedule of when things are happening, such as Raffle Draws, or a competition for one of the games, or when the bar is shutting down.  They can hustle and take the pressure off of you to help sell things.  They can also get people to participate in games, or they can announce the Door Prize winner’s name.

But… they do come with a price.

If you have chosen a DJ, he/she should have a very large selection of music that will work for all age groups. Look at the possibility of hiring the DJ for the wedding as well, as there may be a combo discount. Decide whether you want dancing at this event or if you want your guests to concentrate on games only. If the hall is small and congested with a lot of games and activities going on, there is a good chance that less dancing will take place. However, a good selection of background music to please the guests creates an exciting ambiance. Hire the D.J. from 9pm to 1am – any earlier and you are wasting your money. The majority of guests tend to show up between 9pm and 10pm anyway. For a good D.J. you should pay between $350 and $500 for four hours. We highly recommend checking out Spirit of Sound.

How to Estimate the Number of People that will Show up to your Fundraiser

In order to estimate the number of people that will come to your Fundraiser, start by making a list of family, friends, coworkers, neighbours, your parents friends, etc.  Ask your wedding party to make a list of friends or family that know the couple, and who may like to come or at least buy a ticket.

Get your committee to review the list because chances are, you forgot a ton of people. Keep in mind that some people will just buy a ticket for support but do not intend on going to the event. Once you have your list, expect that 60% to 70% will show up if you are lucky.  Even for people who say they will come, and you know that they will be there no matter what – people cancel last minute all the time, so that is to be expected.

So as an example, let’s say that you invited 1000 people between you and your committee members and family members and facebook contacts, etc.  Out of that 1000, let’s assume that 400 will buy tickets, because lets face it, people suck.  Ok that is harsh.  But it is hard these days to get people to commit!  If we went with that 60%-70% statistic, approximately 240 to 280 will attend in person.   You can also expect people to buy tickets at the door too, so assume that another 25-50 might do that.  That is an excellent turnout!  So by using this formula, this is how to estimate the number the people that will show up to your Fundraiser.

Legally you are not permitted to advertise your event on public webpages or newspapers, but you can promote yourself within your own friends group on Facebook by inviting people personally.

Be weary of Facebook though because people will confirm they are coming but they may not have bought a ticket from you yet, so don’t count on their “confirmation.”  Other times people say “maybe” as a reply which really doesn’t help you at all.  The sole purpose of the Facebook Event Page is to generate excitement, invite those who you normally would not run into or who you would phone, and keep everyone updated with any important details.