The MOMS Club of Castaic, CA has held several successful charity bunco tournaments. They were kind enough to share their tips and suggestions for any chapters considering hosting a similar event.
Size – For the first year, we kept ours small. It was 3 or 4 games, so between 36 and 48 people. The next 2 years was 6 games- 72 players AND 8 alternates for those that don’t show. Alternates received discounted tickets but they were not guaranteed play – they did receive all other ticket benefits.
Raising Funds – The best way to make the most money is to keep the food cost down. That will be the most expensive part, so it’s the most important. Serving a nice meal though is crucial to justifying a high ticket price, so it’s a delicate balance. Finding someone with a connection at a nice restaurant or country club or having a nice catering company would be best. Sometimes you can negotiate buffet or catered meal prices if you are a non-profit. Once the location and date/times are set, spread the word fast! We always gave our MOMS Club first dibs to RSVP first before opening up to the public.
Ticket prices – There have to reflect an amount that the club can afford, yet still be an upscale event. Our first 2 years was $40, this year was $45. It included a very nice buffet lunch, a drink ticket, free soda/ice tea/coffee, the game, 5 raffle tickets (a virtually free way to increase value!), access to raffle baskets, 50/50 raffle, prizes, and dessert (helpful to get this donated!).
Raffle Baskets – These practically needs a committee by itself! Every member of the club can help by donating items, services, or asking companies around town for donations. A donation request letter to pass around town is helpful! It needs to include info on MOMS Club, info on charity money is being raised for, info about event- date, location, how many people are attending, and contact info for questions and sending donations. Teasers on raffle baskets to get the club excited is helpful as donations start to come in. Consider selling raffle tickets in advance. People will tend to buy even MORE on the day of so it can really up your ticket sales. Having people write their names on the tickets is very important before the event. Calling out a million numbers and having people check their numbers – takes a LONG time! Sell in advance, hand them out a few days before, and tell people to put their first name, last initial on ticket. Small labels are also helpful for people to put their names on the ticket. Have a committee keep all donations in one place and have a basket building meeting to put them all together. We tried to theme ours – a dinner gift card with a free haircut for a date night. All kids games and toys for kids basket, etc. We had so many items we had to put many things in each basket.
GET SPONSORS! – This is a great way to earn extra money. Community businesses are always looking for ways to get the word out about their business. Car manufacturers, real estate professionals, local bakeries, tax accountants, financial planners, restaurants, radio stations, etc are good places to ask. Offer free event tickets, raffle tickets, signage, publicity…
Supplies – ask club for items to keep costs down. Color coordinate each game to make it easy to find your game and stay at the right tables. Name tags with the right color on it, colored dice, maybe balloons will all help make it easier for people to find and remember their table. Try to keep tables clear for the most part as we all know crazy these dice rollers get!
Noise Makers – Try different sound per game, a bell, a hand clapper, etc. Make sure not to use anything that goes in the mouth.
Dice – Everyone has dice! Get donations to borrow or keep.
Pens at all Tables – If you can get pens made, put MOMS Club contact info and logo on them – cheap advertising!
Printing – This can be a big task. For the event itself you need to print, rules, program of events, listing sponsors, tally sheets, score sheets, welcome sign, and name tags. Also, you’ll want posters announcing sponsors and perhaps for advertising. Donation request flyers can also really help get the donations in! Hopefully someone has a connection with a printing company. Considering asking for discounts for being a non-profit. We got our stuff done dirt cheap by putting the printing company’s logo on some materials.
Day of – registration table. Make it organized! Have guests come one to one-and-a-half hours early to make sure they have time to check in, eat, put raffle tickets in bags, buy raffle tickets, etc. Have separate ticket selling table for last minute raffle tickets. 50/50 raffle- everyone wins, easy money!
Publicity – Local radio stations. Community newspapers/magazines. Facebook. E-mails. Get sponsors!!
Goody bags – everyone loves those! Business cards from companies, coupons, a free ice cream, charity information (donation envelope?), companies might have plastic bracelets or other promotional item to give out, pens, flyers from other companies, etc! Some companies who can’t afford to give away a product can give out discounts or freebies.
Most importantly the key to a successful event is to start early and have meetings more often as event gets closer. Do a timeline of important dates- when to confirm location/date, deadlines for donations to come in, for RSVPs, etc.