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Step-by-step: race night

Race nights are a fun way to get people together and raise money. All you need is a large screen on which you can show a race - anything from greyhounds to motorbikes, snails to horses!

  1. Decide whether you will buy-in a race night package from a company, or do it yourself, using home-made props. Many race night suppliers offer a range of options, from inclusive packages for around £200 (which include tickets, film equipment, the race footage and a technical person to run the proceedings) to DVD packages from around £40.
  2. Equipment for the night - make sure you have a cash float, a printed race card listing details of all the races, a projection system, rolls of coloured tickets or race cards, races on DVD/video, publicity materials, and sound and lighting systems. At your event, have a table and helpers to run the tote, taking bets and paying out winnings (a calculator can also be helpful!).
  3. Add glitz and glamour to whip up excitement for your event - think ladies day at Ascot! Include dinner in the ticket price as this allows you to charge for entry to the event in addition to taking bets. Raise additional funds by selling drinks and running a raffle.
  4. Publicise your event by putting posters up in the local community. Prepare a press release to send to the local paper and radio station. Order race night posters from Charity Print Shop - only £9.95 for 10 x A3 posters.
  5. Boost funds by giving participants the opportunity to 'buy' horses, becoming their 'owner' for the night. They can then share some of the winnings if their horse is successful. For the final race of the night, auction off each of the horses. Persuade local businesses to sponsor each race or donate prizes. Sponsors can be credited in any programme produced for the event. Sell advertising into the programme to generate additional revenue.

Race night tips and advice

Type of race: Whether you are employing the services of a specialist company, or doing it yourself, the types of races can be as crazy as you want. From the traditional horses, to motorbikes or even ferrets! For a DIY event, create seven flat wooden horses and paint them different colours. Fix them onto plinths and attach a long length of string with a wooden bar (broom handle diameter) on the other end. Team members nominate jockeys who sit in a row, their backs to their horses. The winner is the first to wind the string around the handle the fastest, pulling their horse over the finish line.

Local businesses: Ask local businesses to donate prizes for the race winners, and aim to get each race sponsored to generate extra funds on the night.

Licensing: No licence is needed to run a charitable race night, as it's deemed 'non-commerical' so long as the proceeds are given to a good cause. Visit the Gambling Commission website for more details. If selling alcohol you will need a TEN if the venue does not already hold a premises licence.

Suppliers: Find race night suppliers in our online directory.

Race night success story:

Mel Dolding, chair, Rotherfield Primary School, London told us: 'We used a company called Fundeo which offers a snail racing deal - the snails aren't real! . We got a TEN to sell beer and wine - drink always helps people spend - then just put crisps on the tables in the school hall. The race DVD cost about £180 for a six-race DVD with tickets, but you can easily recoup this by getting local businesses to sponsor each race. We also asked parents to buy snails. You need to book the DVD in advance so you can get your race sponsors and snail owners featured on the DVD before it is finalised and sent out. For £5 snail owners get to add their names against their snail on the DVD. If their snail wins the race they get £10 back. Each race has eight snails - if you sell all snails at £5 (taking £40) and give £10 back to the winner, the PTA makes £30 profit per race! Bets are charged at £1 each and we only pay out on the winning snail, but 50% goes to the winner and 50% to the PTA. For the last race, we normally auction the snails on the night, you can raise a lot more this way! Our last snail race made £1,015 net profit.'


The above is intended as guidance only. We recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held responsible for any decisions or actions taken by an organisation based on the guidance provided. 

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