Fundraiser Event Guidelines
Casino Night events are an excellent way for non-profit organizations to generate revenue. Special Events Associates, Inc. provides a number of ideas to help you maximize your fundraising potential.
How to Determine Your Ticket Price
Establish a realistic goal of the amount of money you would like to raise. This number will help determine entrance fees and keep your expenses down. To curtail costs, you may want to budget yourself by outlining planned revenues and expenses.
Ticket Sales- Selling tickets to a fundraising event is the single most important task in making the event a success. The ticket price for the event can vary greatly, depending on the audience and what is included in the event (e.g. dinner, buffet, open bar, etc.). Providing a discount for advance sales and block sales is a great incentive. For example, if tickets at the door are normally $20 per person, you may want to offer pre-sale tickets at $15 per person or two for $25. It is also easier for 20 people to each sell 10 tickets than it is for 1 person to sell 200 tickets. Hold each of these 20 people responsible for the sale of their allotment of tickets.
Table Sponsorship- Sell sponsorships for each of the tables at your party. Special Events Associates, Inc. will provide 4’x8’ clear plastic frames that can be placed on the top of each gaming table to display the sponsor’s name and slogan. You may even want to encourage your sponsors to provide “gag” gifts that promote their business to be distributed at “their” table. For example, a blackjack table sponsored by a dentist could give away a free toothbrush (with the sponsor’s name imprinted) for each blackjack that is dealt. Or, the dealer could be dressed in the sponsor uniform.
The price of the sponsorship will vary based on the organization, the size of the party, and the type of table being sponsored. Generally, the Craps and Roulette tables yield a higher price than Blackjack and other gaming tables. For example, Craps and Roulette tables may cost $250 to sponsor while the Blackjack tables may cost $150. Whatever the price, make sure your sponsors feel as though they are getting value for their donation because not only are they more likely to attend the event, but getting a similar sponsorship the next year will be much easier. Overall, table sponsorship should cover at least the entire rental cost of the casino equipment and staff.
Drink/Food Sales- This will vary depending on the “upscale ness” of your event. Ticket prices and what people are getting for their money will generally determine whether guest’s drinks are included in the ticket price or if they need to pay for them. Typically, the more expensive the entrance fees the less likely you are to charge additional for drinks. On “drink inclusive” events a limited bar (beer, wine, soda) is suggested to curb costs. On other events entrance fee usually includes two “drinks tickets” which are typically redeemed at a rate of one ticket for a soft drink and two tickets for wine or beer. Additional drinks require the purchase of more drink tickets.
Silent Auction- Silent auctions are often incorporated into a casino event. They are a great opportunity to raise more money, however, they have their disadvantages. The require additional sponsors to donate auction items, they interrupt the flow of the evening by taking people away from the tables, they require more coordination and organization, and they may make the guest feel “hit up” several times throughout the evening. If you decide to go through with the silent auction, we suggest delegating at least one person whose sole responsibility is to manage the silent auction of the event.
Live Auction- Live auctions can generate a tremendous amount of revenue for the event, if done correctly. There are several key ingredients to a successful live auction including maintaining a captive audience by shutting down all other activities during this time, keeping it short (about 30-40 minutes), auctioning less than ten high ticket items, and using a dynamic auctioneer.
Sale of Additional Special Events Associates, Inc. Money- selling additional Special Events Associates, Inc. money during the event is a great way to generate additional proceeds for your fundraiser. There is no standard price for purchasing additional play money – we leave that to the organizer of the event. Providing a discount for large purchases is a great incentive and will maximize the money you bring in. For instance, if a $5 donation entitles a guest to an additional 200 Special Events Associates, Inc. money, then a $10 donation would entitle a guest to an additional 500 Special Events Associates, Inc. money and a $20 donation gets 1500 Special Events Associates, Inc. money.
Tournament Play- In addition to the tables open for general use during the event, designate one or two Blackjack tables as “tournament” tables. (Poker is another good tournament game.) Players participating in tournament play contribute a donation (e.g. $10) and receive additional casino chips to be used only at that tournament table for a specified period of time. At the end of the tournament, the player with the most chips is declared the tournament winner. There are many variations to tournament play at Casino Parties. Special Events Associates, Inc. will be happy to discuss them in further detail.
Facility Costs- Invariably, free is the key word here. Attempt to secure a facility at no cost to your event. There are generally several organizations that are open to making their facility available at little or no charge.
Decorations and Props- Often balloons and streamers or ribbon will suffice when decorating the event facility. Always weigh up the cost of any props you are considering using. People are typically not at your event for the decorations. Solicit donations if possible however, prioritize a table sponsorship donation ahead of a prop donation almost every time.
Casino Equipment Rental- Provide the casino operator with accurate head counts so the appropriate amount of equipment is supplied. Too much equipment on hand results in a bigger expense and having too few tables to accommodate your guests is one of the surest ways to spoil your event.
Dealers- Arrange to staff the blackjack tables with your own volunteers. There will be a charge for training them but this cost is more than offset by the saving of not paying for these dealers.
Beverage Costs- Arrange with your beverage supplier to be able to return all unopened bottles. This way you only have to pay for the beverages you have sold.
Insurance- Some facilities might require a one-night insurance coverage policy for your event, especially if you are not being charged for the venue.
Security- The same applies to security and parking. This will vary with different locations and organizations. Be aware of this possible cost when selecting a location.
Clean Up- Designate a team of volunteers to take care of the facility cleaning.
How to Determine Your Ticket Price
What is the total of all expenses?
How many tickets do you expect to sell for this event?
How much money do you want to raise?
Divide total expenses by the number of tickets you expect to sell. Is this price close to the amount of money you want to raise? Is this price appropriate for the services you are providing? Will this price cost your guests a fortune, or are you under pricing? Depending on your needs, the price calculated may need to be adjusted so that your guests are satisfied and your goal is met.
Things to know before the event:
Set up early
Have change available at the cashier booth
Have additional script and drink tickets at cashier booth
Have a public address system on hand to announce prizes etc.
Have sponsors signs in place on all tables
Have bow-ties, uniforms etc. available for volunteer dealers
Have dealers assigned to a specific table ahead of time
Post signs prominently indicating chip denominations
Post information about buying more script
Clearly indicate location of cashier booth
Have change or drink tickets available at bar or bars
Designate all tasks ahead of time - specifically breakdown and clean up
Keep thorough notes for your next event - the second time is always easier