by Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP
• Budget successfully
• Casino night charity events
Raise your hand if you’ve ever volunteered to work a charity fundraising event thinking it sounded like lots of easy fun and a good cause, until the part about “Oh by the way, let’s make sure to keep our costs at absolute minimum!” It’s a tall order many planners constantly face, and in this article we’re going behind the scenes to a typical casino night event done just for this very purpose to see what some best practices might be involved in the process.
But how do you begin to put it all together especially if you’re not an experienced gambler?
Tip: Search for professional help.
And because I follow instructions well, (and also I fall under the ‘inexperienced gambler’ category), I did a quick search from my industry network and got quite a few expert opinions on how best to approach the planning process with the goal of reaching maximum success. Here’s what Ken Knapp from USA Partyworks/Virtually Vegas in Grand Rapids, MI, had to offer when asked where a planner should start.
“Work with experienced companies and ask lots of questions.” He goes on to say, “make it a complete fun evening by remembering that not everyone is going to gamble even when they’re given a stack of ‘high value’ fake money. The most successful casino fundraisers happen when all the elements come together – great food, a realistic casino atmosphere including lounge acts and showgirls, maybe even some magicians and fortune tellers. Make sure you use trained dealers who wear uniforms, and some parties even have casino style security guys roaming the tables watching for the card sharks and scam artists, all planted in good fun, of course.” Ken also highly recommends you pay close attention to the ‘loser’s lounge’ because sometimes that’s as important as the game tables.
So, with all this fake money being used, exactly how does a planner end up with a donation check at the end? It’s all in the entrance fee charged up front. Similar to any other event you manage, planners must figure out all the elements and their individual costs up front so that you know the income/outflow as well as your break-even point. And those experienced with any level of charity planning will tell you that critical to the success or failure of your event will be the acquisition of plenty of sponsors. From printing costs to food, beverage, marketing, entertainment, and on to the actual grand prize at the end of the night which many times provides the main incentive for attending. The more donated items you get, the less money that comes out of your operating budget which in turn puts more into your selected charity.
And that’s a game-winning combination!
Terry Matthews-Lombardo, CMP, better known as TML, travels, plans meetings and then writes about all those experiences from the viewpoint of being on the road and in the center of the action. It’s usually a good combination, or at least worth an interesting read. Having worked on both sides of the industry, she writes from the viewpoint of a veteran planner as well as a travel-savvy road warrior. If you want to read more from TML you can follow her at www.MidwestMeetings.com and at www.tmlwrites.com where you’ll find stories covering both destinations and detours or visit her blog at www.hypeorlando.com/hospitality-hive/.