Why organise a charity ceilidh ?

We get approached frequently at the Ceilidh Club concerning organising a charity ceilidh. So we decided that we’d write a quick blog post on it  You can raise a lot of money, meet new people and have a great time if everything goes right. Alternatively you can also lose money, fall out and be thoroughly miserable. This guide is intended to make it the former rather than the later. 


Top Tips to organising a charity ceilidh

Charity ceilidhs can be a great way of raising money for a good cause. After all who doesn’t want to come along and let their hair down, have a laugh, get nice and sweaty and contribute towards a cause that touches the heart. To get it right though requires details planning.

  1. You need a venue first and a date. Make the date as far away as possible. 3-4 months is a good time (don’t try an do anything within 6 weeks). If you have any contacts who can get you a cheap venue then that’s great. However you’ll probably need to google places. Church halls, scout halls, community halls and such like are generally the cheapest. You’ll need a decent size dance floor as well (better if it is wood). The venue will come with its own terms and conditions. It is worthwhile reading these. Look for their cancellation period. The venue will also advise you if you can do your own catering / bar or if they provide it. Some venues have a list of registered caterers. If you are not in the bar / catering trade then you probably want to let professionals handle it. It might take away a bit of your profit, but it will also take away major headaches. You’ll have enough to do publicising it all and making other arrangements rather than handling the catering. However if you are up for doing all the catering the venue should be able to advise you on what licences you need and where to get them. This can all be time consuming so it’s good to get going as soon as possible.  Check out any insurance you will need. You may well need Public Liability Insurance.  Remember to book the hall provisionally and you’ll need to get a band. When choosing a date make sure there is no other event on that might inhibit your audience from coming. 
  2. Next up is a band. Peak time for bands is Saturdays in summer (because of weddings), end of November (St. Andrew’s day), Hogmanay and late January (Burns night). Having an event outside of these times should reduce your cost. Check out the search engines or you can look at our Performers and contact page.  Be as specific as you can be with the band and don’t be afraid to ask about the cost. All bands should come with a caller, but do ask them. Check out what insurance they have and if their equipment is PAT tested – this is an electrical test and some venues insist that all equipment has this. Bands can bring along their certificate or it is usually enough to show the sticker around their plugs verifying that it has been PAT tested. Your contract with the band will state their terms and conditions, but be sure to let them know their playing times and how experienced your group will be. People will remember the band at your event more than anything else. Remember to offer the band food and drink, look after them well and they will give you their best. 
  3. Marketing – perhaps one of the toughest things that you will have to do. The secret to raising money is great marketing. You need to brainstorm creative ways of getting the word out – using social media is fantastic and Facebook is great for organising groups, but there is also a lot of noise so don’t be surprised if you have to repeat, repeat and repeat. It is good to share the load so get your pals talking to their pals…..A good graphic can save 1,000 words. Use free online tools to create great looking pictures. Paypal works well as a way of collecting cash.  Try to get as much cash in as soon as possible as this will encourage others to come along. You may want to checkout Eventbrite
  4. A raffle is a great way to raise extra cash at a charity ceilidh. This is where your contacts and your friend’s contacts come in. It is surprising just what people will give and it is worthwhile putting in some real effort to get great prizes.
  5. Don’t forget a silent auction. This can work well when you have lots of prizes and is an extra way to raise money.
  6. Contact the charity you are raising money for to ask them a) if they will publicise your charity ceilidh and b)  if they will put the word out to their social media followers that you are looking for donations to the raffle / silent auction. They might not do it, but it is definitely worth a try.
  7. Plan the night forensically. Visit the venue again and talk through with the venue manager how you see the night progressing. Ask their advice – they will likely have lots of it.
  8. On the night make sure you have a float (you may need to order this from the bank) if you’ll be taking money on the door / charity ceilidh raffle. Decide who will be looking after the money and what you’ll do with it at the end of the night. The venue may let you leave it with them.  Your charity may give you buckets to collect some loose change as people leave. Find out if the band need to be paid cash.
  9. Do your preparation well. When you have all the boxes ticketed then you can enjoy the night – you’ve earned a little relaxation!

If all this seems a bit much and you’d rather just concentrate on selling the tickets then come and chat to us at the Ceilidh Club. We can let you have some tickets for our events at a discounted price on a sale or return basis so it is completely risk free for you – you can’t lose money.