Step-by-step: grand ball
The profit potential of running a grand ball is HUGE.
Think posh frocks, black ties, delicious food and a boogie. It does
take some planning though, so give yourself as much time as
Stefanie Vincent, PTA Member, Russell Lower School,
Bedfordshire told us: 'We hold the ball in late September,
booking the date 18 months in advance. We hire a marquee, and the
company provides catering and staff. Tickets cost £45 each and
include a glass of Champagne, three-course meal, disco and live
band, and we offer supporters the option of paying in instalments.
Fundraising games during the evening include 'heads and tails' and
'rock, paper, scissors'. On arrival and during the dinner courses
we have a local close-up magician. A parent who is a DJ compères
the night and conducts an auction of promises. At the most recent
ball we hired a retro photo booth, which included dressing-up
props! Our main cost was the hire of the marquee and catering.
While this includes everything from toilets to salt and pepper
pots, it is still daunting, as we only make approximately £5 profit
per ticket. We ask local businesses to sponsor parts of the
evening, and sell advertising in our programme. At the last ball we
raised over £9,000, which included £4,000 from drinks sales, £2,500
from an auction of promises and £1,100 from a raffle - even a
simple game of heads and tails raised £230! The only licence we
needed was a TEN. My advice? Keep your organising committee small
and friendly, and play to your strengths. If you feel really
ambitious, run a fundraising pamper evening the night
1. Gauge interest from your supporters. Getting a feel for the
number of people interested will help define how big your event is
and how much you can charge for tickets. Allow about six months'
planning time and avoid major sporting fixtures, other local events
and busy periods.
2. Set up a sub-committee with specific responsibility for
organising the ball. Give everyone clear roles such as sponsorship,
publicity, prizes, entertainment, etc, in order to have a
3. Choose a venue. The choice of venue is vital to the success
of your ball. It could be held in a local golf club or hotel where
the food, drinks, music and service is included in the package
price. Important things to consider are: dance floor, maximum
capacity, cloakrooms, space for the band and whether you can bring
alcohol to the venue. If food is not included in the package, call
upon local chefs to offer their services, and buy food at cost
4. Decide what entertainment you will have on the night. Music
is a key component of the evening, so source a band, DJ or string
quartet that will add sparkle to your event. For that extra 'wow'
factor, book a guest speaker, magician or comedian.
5. Publicise your event well ahead of time. Reach out to the
local community and media for support, whether for sponsored prizes
or free publicity. If the ball is to raise money for a specific
project mention this on the ticket. Designing and printing
tickets, menus, programmes and posters is a cheap and effective way
of creating a buzz. Offer a discount for tables of eight or 10 to
encourage bulk sales.
Tips and advice
Theme: Fancy a formal black-tie affair with a
sit-down meal? Or a more relaxed, informal evening? Maybe a masked
ball, fancy dress or colour theme? Bear in mind your target
audience and budget.
Sponsorship: Securing sponsorship from local
businesses will increase your profit margin considerably. If you're
producing a programme, give them decent coverage as a 'thank
Budget: Agree your budget early on. Once you know
what your costs are likely to be you can decide on your ticket
price. Additional fundraising activities such as an auction or
raffle will boost profits.
Boosting profits: Increase your profits on the
night by running additional acitivites such as head and tails, a dinner draw raffle, 100-square grid or even a table quiz. Running a silent auction is also a great way to boost
funds, but be sure to source prizes with plenty of time to go
before the event.
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