Cocktail nights

Events, functions and fundraising activities

Cocktail nights can double as both a great fundraiser as well as an awesome social event on your club’s calendar. Your club could make it a fancy dress night (for example an era like the roaring twenties, or the Hollywood forties) or stick with the traditional and always popular ‘formal’ dress code.
With an event includes alcohol it is important that this isn’t the focus. The focus is an opportunity to get dressed up, eat some refined finger food and have a dance in an awesome team atmosphere.
Your club can create the feel that this is a special event, keeping it classy ensures the majority of your club and supporters will be happy to pay to attend.

There is the opportunity to raise significant funds with ticket sales and if using the your venue costs can be kept minimal.

Why a Cocktail Night?
A cocktail night is an awesome opportunity for your club and community to come together for a fun night of bonding. It can also be easily held in conjunction with other fundraising ideas such as raffles and auctions.
It is important to be aware that this fundraiser does call on your club community to donate and doesn’t give an great opportunity for fundraising dollars to be made from external sources. This can be lessened by allowing your members to bring friends to the night.

When should I hold this fundraiser?
A cocktail night can be held at anytime during the year but your club might like to link it to a milestone game/match as a celebration or could consider holding it mid way through your club’s year to break up the season. It could also be put in the calendar as one of the major, yearly social events or an ongoing monthly event at the club.

Key Activities
These are the tasks you will need to consider assign to volunteers at our club:
Before the Day

  • Decide a date for the cocktail night fundraiser.
  • Promote the fundraiser.
  • Organise the venue and decorations.
  • Organise ticketing arrangements.
  • Organise volunteers to help.
  • Book a DJ or organise music for the night
  • Organise any food and beverages that will be for sale.
  • Organise any raffles or auctions that might run at the same time.
  • Sell tickets.

On the Day

  • Ensure the room, food, beverages and music is set up and ready to go.
  • Brief Volunteers of their roles.
  • Enjoy the night!
  • Monitor the event.
  • Take lots of photos.

After the day

  • Publicly thank everyone involved
  • Announce the amount of money raised in club newsletters, on social media, website and around the club.

Who can help?
It is important to engage your members to help in the running of your fundraiser.
For an cocktail night you could approach them to help:

  • Promote and sell the tickets
  • Source a food and beverages to sell
  • Help logistically on the day

You could also approach current club Sponsors for any prizes you plan to use.

Recruiting your people
It is important to create a culture of volunteering at your club to help not only with fundraising but also across the day to day running of your club. For more on how to create this at your club, click here.

Using technology to making it easier

You may like to consider using technology to reduce the workload on your volunteers and increase your fundraising dollars. For an event like this, you may like to sell tickets using a platform like TryBooking.

TryBooking lets you sell tickets, take payments and donations for events online.

This takes care of a great deal of the work that is usually left to volunteers and automates the ticket selling process.

You can set up and customise your own event page and a unique URL in minutes. This lets you easily share the event online and engage members and supporters. Your club may also like to use social media, email newsletters and your club website to promote the event.

Financial Considerations
This event can expect to raise between $1000-$5000 depending on the size of your audience and how you manage your costs.

The easiest way to run the event is to fully outsource by using a non-club venue and contracting suppliers to cater and staff the cocktail night. Even if your club only charges a $10 on top of the cost of the hire, you could make $1000 for the club if you sold 100 tickets. This means no cleanup, no setup and very little expectation on volunteer time.

However, the more costs your club can cover the greater the profit to the club. If you cannot hold the function at your club then you could seek a community or school hall, ask volunteers to decorate it and hire some tables and chairs. You can also organise for volunteers to help with the food and beverages set up, serve and clean up. You’ll most likely need to hire a catering company, DJ or band and pay for basic cutlery, cocktails and mixers, but doing it this way will significantly reduce your cost and increase your profit.

Whatever method is used, clubs should seek to pre-sell tickets and discourage door sales. Pre-selling tickets gets money in the kitty to cover costs and ensures catering is accurate.

The more help your club can get from its volunteers and sponsors when organising an event the greater the return but it is important not to compromise on quality otherwise no one will pay money to attend in following years.

Club cocktail nights are best promoted in-house using:

  • Club website
  • Newsletter
  • Noticeboard
  • Signs around the club (especially the canteen)
  • Blackboards
  • Club Facebook and Twitter.

It is a great idea to encourage your club community to bring their friends for a fun night out! The more people that attend the greater the opportunity to raise even more fundraising dollars for your club.

Communication considerations
As a cocktail night may also double as a social event at your club, you can use social media to build excitement. You can use social media to sell tickets and countdown to the day. You can also live stream parts of the event on the day so that those in your community that can’t attend can still be part of the event.

Social, Moral and Ethical Considerations
Supply of Alcohol
As this event includes alcohol it is important to consider whether there will be limits or restrictions set in advance. Clubs need to consider how they will manage the risks of binge drinking as well as the Responsible Service of Alcohol.

What can go wrong? (Risk Management)
Financial Risks
There are obvious financial risks if enough tickets aren’t sold and set up costs more than is made.
Participant Safety
The health and wellbeing of those who attend your event should be a focus at all times. It is important that your club takes time to consider all possible risks and how to minimise these.
Alcohol and Behaviour
As this event includes alcohol it is important to set limits and restrictions to manage the risks of binge drinking. You may also like to hire security to ensure that the night stays positive and under control.

Licenses and Permits
Food handling and service laws need to be considered. Liquor licencing and RSA requirements for serving the cocktails and drinks need to be adhered to. If in doubt, check with the liquor licensing and food safety authority in your state or territory. Your club should also consider security to promote legal and responsible drinking.
Clubs need to check with their state or territory regulatory body to make sure they have all the required permissions to run an cocktail night.
It is also important to contact your insurance company to ensure your public liability insurance policies cover the event.

Additional Factors to consider
Event Format
It’s the little quirks and perks that will set your club’s cocktail night apart and stamp it as a must-attend event on the social calendar. You might like to consider a red-carpet entry with mock paparazzi snapping photos as each couple arrives or perhaps an announcer to announce the arrival of each guest.
If you have hired a DJ ensure you are clear with the music you would like played to ensure the night is a hit!
When catering food ensure you cater for those with allergies and these are clearly labeled. Allergies can be life threatening and need to be considered seriously.
It is important to have an ingredient list for each of the cocktails served and bar staff who know how to mix them. It is also important to know the alcohol content in each drink.

Additional Revenue Opportunities
A cocktail night provides an opportunity to run a raffle or silent auction to help build your club’s fundraising dollars. Clubs may consider an entry-fee participation fashion parade or a best-dressed competition if the night is themed. However it is important not to take away from the night by overdoing it on the extra fundraising activities.

Any specific suppliers or links for this particular fundraiser. Could be used for 3rd party advertising in the future.

This procedure should be treated as a guide only. Your club should seek advice specific to the needs of your club and event. Seek further details from authorities and service providers; especially in regards to insurance, licences, permits, spectator and participant safety.