A concert is a great idea to raise a bunch of money in one night. A show can fund an important campaign and help local bands get more listeners. It also makes a fundraiser more of a party and makes more people show up - and more work for the organizers. Concerts can be huge successes with a little planning. This guide will cover:
The big day
Deciding to put on a concert can seem like an exciting idea and it's easy to get carried away. Stay realistic. Before getting started, round up a team of volunteers to help plan and execute the show. It's never as fun or as simple to put on an entire concert single handed. A show may seem straightforward but it is actually built on a foundation of smaller tasks that are all equally important to get the event off the ground.
Once people are interested in helping, pick a range of dates that would work for the concert. Give everyone a good amount of time to prepare if no one is very experienced. Things can and often will go wrong along the way and it's always better to have more time than have to change the date. Two months is plenty though concerts can be thrown together much faster. When choosing a date, consider other events in the community, holidays and how likely people are going to be to show up. If you're hosting a concert on campus, don't pick a day in the middle of exam season. Use your best judgment.
Make your budget as practical as possible. Take into account the venue, whether or not the band is paid, if you're selling beverages, stamps, signage, posters and ad space. These are small details that make a huge difference in who shows up and how the night goes. Figure out if you have to rent sound equipment or if the band/venue can provide it.
Decide how much you want to charge at the door. Sliding scale or pay what you can are great ways to collect money without turning anyone away because they can't afford it. There will always be people who give above the suggested admission price. Anywhere from two to ten dollars is reasonable for a show but make sure to break even.
A good venue is what you make of it. Every problem has a solution, so don't get discouraged if a few places fall through. Try calling bars, clubs, recreation halls, community centres or even friends with big houses. Have an idea how much you can afford. Some places want the money in advance, so be prepared for that.
Finding a place is the next logical step. This typically takes the longest, so start early. Venues are flighty and you often have to book well in advance. When looking for a space, think about what the band will need. Look for multiple outlets and a stage or risers for them to play on. If the room is up three flights of stairs, think about who will help carry equipment. Think about other furniture that might need to be brought in ie a table for taking money, chairs etc.
Always make your venue accessible and double check that there are accessible bathrooms. It's better to get a venue that is a little bigger rather than smaller. Many places have regulations about how many people can fit into a space if it's only recommended for a certain number of people. Make sure to ask if security is required, if there is a student rental rate and other details. Ask about emergency exits, fire code requirements, curfew laws and noise ordinances.
Track down local bands as soon as the venue is confirmed and pitch the show. The sooner the venue and the main act are confirmed, the sooner you can start focusing on other logistics and getting the word out. Make a list of potential bands and start figuring out how to contact them. It helps to pick bands that have a bit of a following so you know people will show up. See if anyone knows a person in a band, tweet them and message them on facebook.
Whether or not to pay bands can be a toss up. Try to find bands that are political, that support your campaign and are willing to play for free. It's also helpful to offer the bands something for their efforts - gas money or a round of drinks. How much the band gets paid depends on how much the fundraiser makes and its other costs.
The big day
When the day of the concert arrives, double check everything. Arrive at the venue early. If it's hard to find, add signage everywhere. Bring extra emergency items like flashlights, batteries, an extra extension cord and a first aid kit. Volunteers who are helping out should have an idea about what their role will be during the show. Once it's all over, celebrate!