Fundraising > Outdoor Fundraisers

Carols by Candlelight

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Who doesn’t love a Carols by Candlelight? Clubs looking for a marquee event need look no further than this event as ‘Carols’ has the potential to raise significant funds and establish a highly-visible profile for your club in the wider community. If successful, it could become a year-on-year event that the community pencil into their diaries and in the process earn your club a valuable and dependable yearly funding boost.

Carols by Candlelight can be run as a standalone event or the main event with side attractions in the same manner as a fete. Side attractions including rides, food and market stalls add to the festivity of the night and are another lucrative revenue stream for your club.

For a Carols by Candlelight event, the upside is huge, festive spirits can loosen the purse strings and if you can generate the crowd, the profitability can soar. However, there are many risks including the weather, poor planning and competition that can bring your night undone very quickly.

Carols by Candlelight

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Financial Considerations

Potentially the profit margin for this event can range from $500 – $15,000 but it can easily lose $5000 as well. Your club's window of opportunity for running the event is a maximum of 4-6 weeks prior to Xmas. An outdoor stage and audio equipment will incur extensive costs, as will the costs associated with appropriate insurance, toilet, waste and traffic management. Depending on the region you are in, weather insurance may be advisable.

Performers should be resourced from the community, if not, there will be expenses for a choir. Clubs should also consider engaging an experienced compare/MC to run the onstage activities

If side attractions are to be included then this introduces a whole new level of cost and complexity. Depending on the side attractions: stalls, rides, food - your club will incur setup costs. Clubs should look within their own ranks for members with event or project management experience otherwise there are event management companies that will run your event at a cost.

Clubs should seek to mitigate expenses through the support of local business and sponsors and that does not mean going cap in hand, it means preparing a detailed presentation for local businesses and sponsors detailing your event, the expected patronage and how your event can build the profile of the business or sponsor through signage or the opportunity for business representatives to set up a stall or mingle with the crowd and distribute marketing material.

Don't be fooled into thinking this type of event is an easy setup, it isn't, but don't be scared off either. Very few clubs attempt events of this ilk and if run well this type of fundraiser can underpin the financial success of your club for years to come and make your club the envy of others whether you win a flag or not.

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Promoting your Carols By Candlelight is vital to its success. Carols by Candlelight is bigger than just your club so promote community wide and not just club wide. Enlist the help of your local radio and newspaper to provide a community announcement promoting your Carols by Candlelight event. Get someone at your club to produce a flyer that can be printed and copies left in community centres like shops and schools.

Don't forget your to promote within the club on the website and newsletter notices as well as promotion on club social media pages. A billboard promoting the event at a high-traffic area in the community like a busy intersection, or outside a school, is also a great way to give your event visibility. Be creative with your promotion.

If your club is aiming really high, and you have the funds in the budget, then a publicist may also prove a good investment.

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Revenue Opportunites

The big question: "Do we charge entry or do we have a free event?"

Both strategies can work. There are so many events happening in December. Clubs that seek to charge entry to events need to make sure they have an audience willing to pay. Many people will pay to support the club but the general public, with many other free entertainment choices available, will need convincing. High profile performers (many will do it for free to give back to the community), gifts, fireworks, or food and drink included in the purchase price may entice the general public to pay to attend your club's Carols by Candlelight but you need to be confident of putting on an event that people are willing to pay for. Do some research within your club and community as part of your planning to get intelligence on what would entice folks to your event.

A free event may not provide that initial fund injection, it is simply the vehicle to attract customers to your club. Revenue raising is done via side attractions like:

  • Facepainting
  • Food stalls
  • Auctions
  • Raffles
  • Club merchandise sales
  • Rides
  • Sponsorship
  • Photos with Santa

  • The advantage of having a free Carols by Candlelight is that your club can spend less on the stage and performers rather than feeling the pressure of having to give the audience their money's worth. The other big advantage is you're almost guaranteed people will attend, because it's free, and that gives you a great opportunity to raise funds.

    Licenses and Permits

    It is imperative your club work with your local council when organising a Carols by Candlelight event as many factors need to be taken into consideration including neighbour considerations, traffic and food and drink regulations. Do not run this type of event without consulting with your local council, they are there to help not hinder.



    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.