The short description of a corporate dinner is that its just a dinner with entertainment and various fundraising activities. The bulk of your money comes from selling tables. There are typically 10 seats at each table and the table costs $600. Hardly surprisingly the bulk of the buyers will be companies but quite often a group of individual members will band together to get a table.
You should be aiming for anything from 35 tables upwards. When selling youll need to sell the values and benefits of your organization and use all of the other techniques youve learned. Consider having differently priced tables depending how close to the front they are and have different payment options (3 or 4 payments for example).
The first thing to do on this creative fund raising idea is to book the venue. There are two reasons for this; 1) most hotels need to be booked well in advance (probably a minimum or 9 months beforehand) and 2) most hotel have plenty of experience with corporate dinners so take advantage of their knowledge to get help during the organization. Make sure that you get a date which has little competition. January and December are poor months in this respect.
The next thing to do is book your master of ceremonies and your quest speakers. I usually go for three quest speakers but you can figure out what works for you. Each of these guys will probably set you back between $500 and $1000 a head. The master of ceremonies is very important because they must be able to entertain. Someone who is both funny and has a good background in public speaking is what you are looking for (someone like a stand-up comedian).
The other person youll need is someone to conduct the auction. This creative fund raising idea will go off more smoothly if the auctioneer you choose has a good sense of humor. They need to be good at playing people against each other during the auction in order to maximize bids. Therell be plenty of opportunity to do that if you make sure that rival companies are sitting close to each other in your table seating plan!
That brings us on to the next task during the organization period and this one requires a bit of lead-time as well. Its acquiring items for the auction. Youre looking for about 15 high quality items. Since this is a creative fund raising idea, then its up to you to get creative when getting items for the auction.
The more collectable items you have the better so go digging for the famous connections or write off to famous people or organizations to see if theyd be willing to donate something. Things like signed sports memorabilia, holidays, tickets to events, paintings / poetry and antiques are just a few of the types of items you should be looking for.
Its always good to have some little gift for each place setting, like they have at weddings. Items such as key-rings, cigars, chocolates and mini bottles of whiskey or liqueurs are ideal.
A suggested order of service for the night is as follows: start with a drinks reception where everyone gets either a glass of wine or a liqueur; when people take their seats the master of ceremonies should introduce your leader. That person should make a short speech including elements such as: the welcome, telling people how important their contributions are to the organization and in what ways the money will benefit people etc.; next the master of ceremonies should give their speech.
The master of ceremonies is a bit like the best man at a wedding, their speech should be entertaining. Next comes the dinner. After dinner you should have a raffle (more about that below), followed by the quest speeches. The last formal item is the auction. Then its music and dancing until everyone goes home.
The raffle I talked about above is a great way to make some extra money. Place an envelope at each place setting and ask people to put a minimum of $10 into it to enter the raffle. Thats $6000 right away and its pure profit because you should always get businesses and individuals to donate the prizes. Maybe you can see now why this is called a creative fund raising idea! Its important to run the raffle before the auction, because that way the prize winners may be tempted to bid more than they would have, now that theyve won a prize.
Auctions are great and if you have control over the seating make sure to put rival businesses beside each other so that theyll try to outbid each other.
You should consider having a video or slide show running in the background promoting the positive aspects of the organization such as, kids playing sport, people smiling at meetings etc.
These positive images will help people feel good about your organization and hence they will be more likely to spend a little more money on your raffle or on the auction. Get your special guests to talk up the benefits of the organization and if appropriate, how they benefited from these in the past or are still benefiting.
As a creative fund raising idea this one takes a little more work than the grand draw but it's a great social occaision and very much worth the effort.