Some Tools and Suggestions
1) Find a charity that you admire that has an office in or near your city.
2) Contact them to explain that you would like to make a donation to their cause – but a much larger donation than you could afford to make on your own. You would like to instead donate your time and gifts to play a free fundraising concert as a benefit for their cause.
3) Explain to them that you will be happy to donate your services if they are willing to organise a venue (which ideally would also be donated) and enlist their own volunteers/staff to do the PR, advertising, and publicity of the concert.
The concert can be organised in one of two ways as far as collecting money goes.
1) The charity can charge a set ticket price / admission fee and all the proceeds can go to the charity
2) You can advertise the event as free of charge and collect donations
We have actually found that making the concerts free of charge has worked out very well, gaining much more donation revenue per person (audience member) than from any of the events that chose to charge admission fees at a set price.
Making the concerts free of charge often invites more people to come who otherwise might not feel comfortable spending money on something they are not sure that they will enjoy. The wonderful side effect of widening the audience pool is that we have had many people approach us after the concert to tell us that they had never been to a concert before. They came because they were interested in the cause, or wanted to support or accompany a friend. However, in each case they ended up loving the music, discovering new styles they enjoyed, and wanting to listen to more. Therefore these concerts not only help raise large amounts for wonderful charities, but they also help us musicians to gain new audience members for live music of all kinds!
When to collect donations
Often the charity (if you offer them the opportunity) will wish to speak briefly about their mission or show a short video presentation as part of the event- usually this is done either before the concert begins, or half way through the concert (though from our experience we would recommend half way through). Envelopes for the donations can be handed to each concert-goer with their programmes as they enter the venue, and then collection baskets for donations can be passed around immediately after the presentation by the charity. It is better not to leave the collection of donations until the end of the concert, as many people will want to leave quickly to get home.
If the charity you contact are not sure where to hold the event, it is worth suggesting churches or places of worship that are near by. Churches will often donate their space free of charge. The charity you wish to help may already have a connection to a church. This is even better because if the church or place of worship is supportive of the cause, they will often advertise the event well to their congregation both in their bulletin and during their church services. Any extra advertisement helps! Often local papers will also have a ‘calendar’ section in which the event can be advertised free of charge. The charity will also obviously have their own list of benefactors, volunteers, and friends which they can (and should) contact.
Don’t be discouraged if you advertise and advertise and not as many people show up as you would have liked. We have noticed that the small audiences can often be extremely generous, and if you end up doing multiple concerts in various venues on a yearly basis, the audience numbers in each venue will grow with each concert as previous audience members tell their friends, and as the charity itself learns how best to reach more people.
Every event has a beginning before it becomes a regular fixture in the minds of the public.
We do have a list of other advertising ideas, information, and recommended advertising timelines if you are interested. Or if you have any questions, feel free to email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org