by Linda Firth, Love My Vouchers

So, you have a cause which is close to your heart and you want to raise money for it, but how can you do it without incurring costs? Most people who run charity events are individuals who are affected by, for example, a medical condition, either directly or indirectly; just ordinary Joe Bloggs without a corporation behind them to foot the bill and run an expensive advertising campaign.

Here are several methods to consider for growing  your event from tiny to blimey without having to splash out!

  • Local Newspapers. Yes, advertising in the paper is a costly business, but, if you are willing to spin things a little, you can turn your event into a news item which will carry a lot more weight than a postage-stamp-sized advert somewhere in the classifieds, and it won’t cost you a penny. Pitch your idea to the editor, giving them as much information as you can while keeping the pitch concise, and you may well find that you are either invited to write the feature yourself or, even better, they will send a reporter and photographer to you.
  • Competitions. Everyone likes the idea of winning, and few can resist the lure of a prize. There are several ways you can do this – newspapers love giving their readers a competition, so offering a pair of tickets to your event, for example, in conjunction with the above, can be a great way to virtually guarantee the editor’s interest.

There are other ways of running competitions connected to your event, though. Contact local businesses and ask them to donate goods or services to be offered in a prize draw or auction. Offer them free advertising in return on promotional material and/or the event’s website. Restaurants, spas, salons, supermarkets and local artisan shops are all great places to source giveaways and prizes.

  • Flyers. Chances are, you will incur some cost with this one unless you manage to persuade the local copying shop to run some off in return for their name on the bottom of the flyer. (A simple design is easy to do on a home computer, and all you will need to do then is add the business name at the bottom of it before having them copied). Distribution wise, get everyone involved – spend a Sunday afternoon putting them through letterboxes and on shop and community noticeboards. Doctors’ and dentists’ surgeries are also great for captive audiences, as are Chinese takeaways, chip shops, and pretty much anywhere that people have to wait.
  • Ticket Sales. Set up ticket sales through an online ticket sales platform. Sites like Bookitbee offer a very simple process which takes care of the sales, allowing you to add an event page with information, sell merchandise and even sort out seat allocation if your event requires it. It’s simple, stress-free and best of all will cost you, as the organiser, absolutely nothing! They take a small fee per ticket purchased so you retain 100% of the ticket revenue as the fee is added on to the ticket price.
  • Social Media. Thankfully we live in the age of social media, and with 60% of the UK’s population using Facebook alone, (a staggering 31million people), the opportunities for promoting your event for free are endless.  To start with, consider starting a blog in the weeks running up to the event. Sites such as WordPress offer free options, which is ideal if you don’t want an all-singing-all-dancing website. Blogs can be linked to other social network sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so one post on your blog will be instantly shared to whatever you link it to. Ask anyone else involved with your event to share the posts – you could even offer a giveaway on the blog. Offer a pair of tickets (or whatever else you feel is appropriate) using one of the programmes available, such as Rafflecopter, in return for page likes, visits to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram etc.
  • Crowdfunding. It’s a bit of a buzzword at the moment but actually, not a lot of people really know what it is. The things is, people want to give. People want to help. By setting up a crowdfunding page, with the story behind your cause, people can donate to your charity. You can set up tiers, whereby, for instance, £10 gets you a thank you, £20 ensures a mention on the charity’s website, £30 will buy you a special edition t-shirt – the ‘rewards’ are entirely up to you, but crowdfunding is a great way to raise money and get your charity and event publicised.
  • Voucher Codes. People love a bargain – even when it’s for charity, and if you are selling tickets or items  then you can generate even more interest in them by offering a discount code, one of the features on Bookitbee. You can promote your charity through affiliate networks, but this will usually incur a charge; or simply apply to and they will set up your charity page and promote your voucher codes for free.

When it comes to promoting your charity’s event, the less it costs you the better! Be confident, be cheeky, and appeal to people’s better nature when asking for their services for free. By offering them free advertising on your charity’s website it becomes an exchange of services rather than simply giving their services/products away for nothing, which can often be the clincher. Be creative, and have fun!

This is a guest post from Linda Firth, at Love My Vouchers.