Planning Stag and Doe’s, Stags, & Fundraisers

make a plan and a list

If you have your hall picked out and your committee members chosen, now its time to get to work!  Let us help you make a plan of how to run your event as there is lots to do.  You and your Fundraiser Committee have a lot to consider for Fundraiser Planning!  Scroll down to read our suggestions and start making a list of things to do.  Don’t forget to delegate and make it a team effort as we have a lot of ground to cover here!  

Fundraiser Planning

how to set up your hall

Figuring out how to set up your hall can be tricky but we have some great tips.  Make sure that when you are setting up the tables, they are not all in straight lines like you would see at a bingo hall. Be creative and funky and change it up a bit. Maybe even draw out a layout ahead of time. From experience, we have found that you should have zones for everything: food, games, dance floor, seating area, bar, etc. This makes it easier for your guests to navigate and not miss anything. It also spreads the guests throughout the hall more evenly which will prevent people from feeling closed in and congested.  You want people to mingle and walk around rather than stay in one area the whole night.

You should put games like Blackjack, Poker, Roulette and Craps up against the wall so that your guests cannot go beside or behind the dealer and cheat. It is fun to place games like the Jail & Bail in the middle of the room, since it is free standing and will make people notice it.  Don’t throw this game in a dark corner – be strategic and place it where people will notice it!  A huge dance floor is not needed; you want the attention to be on the games, which is where you make your money. As games start to close at the end of the night around midnight, that is when the dancing may really take off, but probably not before.

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What Kind of a Float Do I Need

First of all, let’s simplify things.  Do not allow bets of nickels or dimes or quarters at games.  This will eliminate having to have a separate float at each game, and to keep rolls of coins at each game.  Instead just deal in loonies and toonies and bills.  Keep it simple man!

At the front door when people enter, you will need a large float there to break people’s twenties because that is what most people will start with.  Consider renting our Deluxe Cash Box as it separates all the change and bills effectively.  You may have 10 people show up at once so you need to make it a smooth transition into the hall and take their money fast!

If you make the admission ticket price $12 for example, you will probably have to keep breaking people’s twenties over and over so plan to have a ton of change.  If instead you made the admission price an even number like $5, $10, $15 or $20, this is more efficient and you will be less likely to make a calculation error.

As far as how much change to prepare for, we really cannot answer that as it depends on how many people you have coming, how much you are charging for games and drinks, etc.  Money is money, so if you have too much “change” it is not as though it will go to waste. Worst case scenario is you bring your coins and bills back to the bank to exchange for bigger bills. You are already going to the bank to deposit the large sum of money you just made at your Fundraiser, so get way more than you are anticipating. You just trade it back in for bigger bills when you are done.  Just ensure that the front door has a ton of change, and each person manning a game or selling raffle tickets or jello shooters will wear a Money Apron, so they too will need a small float.  Throughout the night they can get more change if they run out from the front door people who carry a larger float.  You will want them to empty out the money collected thus far too, to minimize the amount of cash being carried around and possibly lost! In addition, empty out the Cash Box throughout the night and keep it somewhere safe. If you are collecting thousands or tens of thousands of dollars throughout the night, your Cash Box will be overflowing!

If you are playing a Toonie Toss game, you CAN reuse the toonies, so don’t go crazy on having TONS of toonie change.  People never think of this!

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What Food for Fundraisers should I offer?

Bringing along Food for Fundraisers is a daunting task as there are so many mouths to feed!  You can bring your own food to the hall, use the caterer at the hall, or find your own caterer. Nobody expects you to make everything, so do not be afraid to ask people to help prepare the food and have a sort of pot luck.  Lots of people may offer you help but not know how to help.  Ask them to bring an appetizer or even better – give them a few options to choose from.

Some great party food suggestions are: pizza, cracker and cheese trays, deli sandwiches (although these can be a lot of work and money), vegetable trays, fruit trays, potato salad, etc. Try to get foods that you can prepare before hand; do not have to be heated up when you get there; and that are easy for cleanup too.  Use disposable containers or foil pans as you have zero clean up when done!  Bring lots of tupperware so that you can make some take-home meals for people who could use it, assuming you have lots of food left at the end of the night. You might even want to consider Roma Pizza, as you do not have to worry about ordering hot pizza to be delivered at a certain time, and this pizza is amazing!  Just pick it up from their Barton Street location in Hamilton the day of.

We see a big trend in pig roasts and pulled pork – we are confused by this.  That is expensive!  Your guests will be just as happy to have some cheaper options that don’t include meat which will cost you an arm and a leg.  Plus with all the vegans and vegetarians taking over the world, you don’t want to neglect their needs. 🙂

Whatever you do, do not appear “chintzy.” The days of chips, cheesies, and pop won’t cut it on their own! Buy several different munchies that you can put around on the tables, as you may not serve dinner/snacks for a couple of hours, and you want to keep your guests happy while they are there.  Encourage people to stay by having a good variety of foods. We are huge fans of Costco’s Chicago Mix – a huge crowd pleaser and it will make them thirsty too.

Remember to also bring along enough plates, bowls, forks, spoons, knives, paper towels, napkins, etc.  Sometimes people try to just serve finger foods so they don’t need any utensils. Many people forget about these small things until the week of – just keep your eyes open for sales and stock up!  You can always return what you don’t open so hang onto the receipts.

Designate 1-2 people to be in charge of clearing the used plates and cutlery throughout the night to cut down on the time needed at the end of the night for cleanup.  Designate someone else to refill chip bowls, and have several helpers in the kitchen to look after the food.

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DJ playing musicWhat Should I do for Music?

Music relaxes people and it encourages them to stay longer and spend more money. A home stereo, renting speaker equipment, using an iPod to play downloaded music, or using Spotify playlists will work if you are under a tight budget. But that can be a lot of work to prepare the songs in advance or have a buddy look after the music selection throughout the night. If you hire a professional DJ, they can help keep your guests happy as well as keep them at the hall longer, which is key. DJ’s are trained to entertain their guests, and they can actually help you earn more money by making announcements throughout the night informing your guests of a new raffle or game that is about to start. Give them a schedule of when things are happening, such as Raffle Draws or a competition for one of the games or when the bar is shutting down.  They can hustle and take the pressure off of you to help sell things.  They can also get people to participate in games, or they can announce the Door Prize winner’s name.

But… they do come with a price.

If you have chosen a DJ, he/she should have a very large selection of music that will work for all age groups. Look at the possibility of hiring the DJ for the wedding as well, as there may be a combo discount. Decide whether you want dancing at this event or if you want your guests to concentrate on games only. If the hall is small and congested with a lot of games and activities going on, there is a good chance that less dancing will take place. However, a good selection of background music to please the guests creates an exciting ambiance. Hire the D.J. from 7pm to 1am, but keep in mind that the majority of guests tend to show up between 9pm and 10pm.  Kids today huh?! For a good D.J. you should pay between $400 and $500 however you can definitely pay up to $1000 if you get their special effects. We highly recommend checking out Spirit of Sound.

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How do I Choose the Right Games?

Obviously we are a bit biased when we suggest that you have games, but the games serve a dual purpose as it provides entertainment but it also generates money for you too.  We put together a few packages for you that are fantastic for Fundraisers, and there are great savings here!

When you are choosing your games, keep in mind that you may want to introduce different games throughout the night to keep it interesting, rather than doing them all at the same time all night. As an example, when guests arrive they may do one round of each game and then sit at a table for the night. But if you keep bringing out new games and get people excited about new tournaments or prizes to win, they will be more likely to keep getting back off their comfortable chair!

Want to know how many games to rent? CLICK HERE to find out. You should pick enough games that will keep your guests entertained all night, not just for half an hour. This is hard to remember because the idea of making lots of money may keep getting in the way, but the real purpose of the night is to entertain your guests and celebrate the whole reason you are throwing a Fundraiser. If you remember this and provide your guests with great entertainment all night long, the profits will just come.

When it comes to deciding WHICH games will work, just ask yourself what you would enjoy playing if at a Fundraiser.  You know your crowd best, so pick games that you think they will enjoy – pick some that are more popular with the ladies, and a few for the men.  Have a good mix so that you appeal to everyone, so that means some that are super challenging, and some that are no brainers.  Have a good variety and you will be set.  Ask us for help if you don’t know where to start.

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Best tips for Selling Admission Tickets

Find people who are outgoing, good in the field of sales, who are well liked and know lots of people, are not afraid to ask people for things to sell your admission tickets. You should get family members to sell to family members and their friends; friends to sell to their family and friends; coworkers to sell to coworkers and their friends, etc.  Make a list of everyone you know, go through your phone contacts, go through your Facebook contacts, talk to neighbours, talk to coworkers, talk to people in your social circles at school, sporting events, or church.  Keep talking and always have your tickets handy!!

You might want to put on the ticket itself, what the major door prize will be.  That way if people have bought the ticket but are contemplating going, this will remind them of why they need to go!

Do not have just one person selling the tickets as this is a lot of pressure and not fair to them. Get many people selling them, as it is a lot of work and you will sell more this way. Do not count on people showing up at the door either just because you told them when it would be – always sell tickets in advance even if you are certain they will come. Many people will buy tickets just to show support, but will have no intention of going to the event.

You may want to consider using a ticket spreadsheet to keep track of who is selling which numbered tickets. Encourage as many people as possible to pay upfront, which will help prevent you from confirming an inaccurate number of guests with the hall.  You might also want to offer everyone that buys a ticket, to be able to win a door prize, even if they are not there.  So rip that admission ticket part off for the door prize, have them write their name and number on it, and set it aside for them. This will encourage people to buy tickets, and maybe more than one if the prize is good enough!  Or sometimes people allow them to be part of one of the grand prizes, but offer the guests that actually show up the chance to win the “super grand prize” which will encourage everyone to come!

Some people offer a special rate for couples such as this: $10 for one person, or $15 per couple.  We think that the spouse is going to come no matter what – it would be weird if you approached your aunt and she only purchased one ticket and not one for her husband.  So if she is going to buy two anyhow, don’t offer a special rate.  If you are in the Niagara region, the going rate is $5 per ticket.  Once you get to Grimsby/Stoney Creek/Hamilton, the price is more like $10.  Once you get to Burlington/Oakville, the price is more like $15 each.  Don’t get us started on Toronto prices… but we see them closer to the $20 range.  If you include a full dinner at a fancy hall, then feel free to charge more.  We like the $10 price range – as it doesn’t scare people away!

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Delegating Jobs for your Volunteers

You definitely cannot do this alone so you need to recruit lots of help!  Delegate as much as you can.  We find that people want to help, they just don’t know how.  So if you can assign certain jobs for people, they will feel helpful and confident that they know what to do. Or if you don’t feel comfortable dictating what you need people to do, instead give them a list of 3 or 4 things and ask which one they can help with.

These volunteers should be people you can trust (probably family, coworkers, or close friends), as they will be handling a lot of cash. You might want to consider giving them free entrance to the event and maybe 1 or 2 free drinks. Ask them not to indulge in alcohol until they are off the clock especially if they are handling money. We offer Dealers to run the games for you – just ask us for a quote.

Most importantly, you need to create a schedule!  It will state when your helpers will arrive, when certain games are going to begin and finish, who is running them, who is the backup, when the food will be served, when last call is, who is taking the games home, who is packing up the food, etc.

You may want to post this schedule the night of the event for the volunteers so that everyone can stick to it. Keep in mind that these volunteers will want to have fun as well so give them some free time to enjoy the party.

You will need helpers to:

  • Get donations
  • Wrap prizes
  • Make signs
  • Sell tickets
  • Organize FB Event page
  • Pick up the games from us
  • Set up the games
  • Organize seating & tables
  • Get munchies on all the tables and replenish during the night
  • Run the games + relief workers for the games
  • Sell the drinks (if needed)
  • Sell raffle tickets & jello shooters (walking around the room selling)
  • Collect admission tickets and money for draws
  • Do some food prep
  • Serve the food on the buffet table
  • Clear the plates
  • Someone to keep everyone on task
  • People to set up your music and take care of that (if you did not hire a DJ)
  • Run the raffle table
  • Look after the cash that will begin to pile up!
  • Load all the empties and extra food and drink into a vehicle
  • Pack up the games, load them into a vehicle
  • Bring back the games

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advertising fundraisers

We understand that many people, despite the regulations, still share their event with anybody who will listen – so with the general public.  Something like – “Please invite your family and friends to attend my event” is a big no-no.   Advertising Fundraisers through social media is technically not allowed unless you do so following their guidelines.  Advertising with a Facebook group is allowed though as long as it is NOT open for the public to see.  Taken directly from the AGCO website, they said this:

Acceptable forms of notification may include social media (not available for viewing by the general public, must be a personal guest list), private invitation, etc.

They recommend to keep a list of ALL people who bought a ticket, and ALL people who said they will buy their ticket at the door.  It cannot be advertised to the public and instead seen as an invite only event.  So just ensure your settings are accurate when setting up a Facebook Event, and you are good to go! Most newspapers now know not to allow advertisements related to Fundraisers because of some legislation that went through in 2013.

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How to Estimate the Number of People that will Show up to your Fundraiser

In order to estimate the number of people that will come to your Fundraiser, start by making a list of family, friends, coworkers, neighbours, your parents friends, etc.  Ask your wedding party to make a list of friends or family that know the couple, and who may like to come or at least buy a ticket.

Get your committee to review the list because chances are, you forgot a ton of people. Keep in mind that some people will just buy a ticket for support but do not intend on going to the event. Once you have your list, expect that 60% to 70% will show up if you are lucky.  Even for people who say they will come, and you know that they will be there no matter what – people cancel last minute all the time, so that is to be expected.

Legally you are not permitted to advertise your event on public webpages or newspapers, but you can promote yourself within your own friends group on Facebook by inviting people personally. Make sure to give permission to others to invite to your FB page, because as long as someone is invited, they are able to come, even if you don’t know them. We just cannot have people walking off the street coming in because they heard there was a party going on.

Be weary of Facebook though because people will confirm they are coming but they may not have bought a ticket from you yet, so don’t count on their “confirmation.”  Other times people say “maybe” as a reply which really doesn’t help you at all.  The sole purpose of the Facebook Event Page is to generate excitement, invite those who you normally would not run into or who you would phone, and keep everyone updated with any important details. So do you want to know how to get an ACTUAL number to work with? Read about our Calculation below.

The Calculation

So as an example, let’s say that you invited 1000 people between you and your committee members and family members and facebook contacts, etc.  Out of that 1000, let’s assume that 400 will buy tickets, because let’s face it, people suck. People are weird we find – they might be totally well off (so money is not the reason) and want to support you (because they really do care for you), yet they just never seem to get around to getting the money to you and don’t make it a priority. Ok might have been a harsh things to read.  But it is hard these days to get people to commit!  

If we went with that 60%-70% statistic, approximately 240 to 280 out of the 400 who bought tickets, will attend in person.   You can also expect people to buy tickets at the door too, so assume that about 5% will do that (about another 50 people in this case).  That is an excellent turnout!  So by using this formula, this is how to estimate the number the people that will show up to your Fundraiser.

Here is the calculation again:
Number of people invited x 0.4 = number of people who might buy a ticket (lets call this "X")
Take "X" x 0.65 = number of people who may show up at your event
Take "X" x 0.05 = number of people who did NOT pre-order ticket and bought at the door
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how much do people make at fundraisers

The age old question we are always asked is how much people make at Fundraisers? We got the inside scoop because year after year, our clients tell us! We have had people break even from their Fundraiser (OUCH!) and we have had several people make just under $30,000.  The people who broke even (honestly maybe we have met 5 over the past 12 years) obviously did not plan this out too well, and obviously did not follow Jack of all Spades’ suggestions.  ? CLICK HERE to see those suggestions by the way.

The ones that made over $20k, did well with pre selling tickets, perhaps offered a dinner so charged more for the tickets, and had some pretty big booze drinkers.  The games obviously contributed to their success but it was probably more of a booze fest from what we have heard from clients when your profits are that high.

We estimate the average to be somewhere between $2500 – $6000 in profit.  How much have the games contributed to that number?  Nobody has ever been able to tell us!  It is such a chaotic night with so many people helping at once that you cannot possibly break it down that finely unless you are a total control freak lol.  We do know what are the generally profitable and popular ones, and those you can find in our Packages.

If you only end up making $100 off the games, just remember that you have provided your guests with entertainment, which kept them happier and there longer spending money on other things like booze and raffle tickets.  However we highly recommend referring to that list of suggestions, which will definitely maximize your profits.

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How to Create a Fundraiser Budget

Wow, there are many things to buy for this event, but do not worry as long as enough thinking and planning goes into it. We have created a Fundraiser Budget for you to follow along and fill out as you go. This keeps you on task without overspending.

Also, one thing we should mention is to not depend on your wedding party to pitch in financially if you are holding a Stag & Doe.  They are already being expected to buy dresses, tuxes, get their hair and nails done, buy you an expensive wedding gift, pay for a shower, bachelorette party, stag, devote their time to help, possibly pay for a plane ticket if its a destination wedding, etc etc..  That is asking a lot already!

Plan on spending this money out of pocket, hope for donations, and make your money back and then some after the party is done.  We know that for prizes it is common for the bride and groom to ask the wedding party to buy a bottle of booze for a booze basket, but again – do not take advantage of their generosity and plan to spend out of pocket if you must.  Follow our instructions on Donations to help in that area.  On that page we mentioned that Carrie (owner of Jack of all Spades) had her Stag & Doe in the summer of 2018, and she had 99% off her prizes donated, except for the toonie toss LCBO gift card.  Other than that, everything was donated from local businesses, so it can be done!  Don’t ask your wedding party for more, that is all we are saying 🙂  Have a Fundraiser Budget in place, stick to the plan, and hustle for those donations so that your profit margin is higher.

CLICK HERE to print the following Budget Worksheet off so that you can get to work!


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A common question is when should I have my Fundraiser, because there are literally 365 days to choose from, and it can be very overwhelming!  But this is one of the first decisions you need to make when planning for a Fundraiser, and it is kind of an important one.

First check with your main circle of people to ensure that the day you are considering works for them.  That is obvious right?  You would think so, but we thought we would mention it.  Perhaps give them 5 dates and ask which ones DON’T work, and cross those off your list.

Which Day of Week

Most people choose a Saturday night to hold a Fundraiser, however Friday nights can get you a better deal on some DJ’s and Halls. Midweek Fundraisers are okay, but people have commitments with kids and work so you may not get as good of a response.  We recommend sticking with a Friday or Saturday night for sure!

If its a Stag & Doe

If this is a Wedding related Fundraiser, the wedding couple usually has their Stag and Doe between one and three months before the wedding. This allows a good lead-time to generate needed funds and does not interfere with bridal showers or preparations for the ceremony and reception. With that said, we have had plenty of people hold a Stag & Doe one weekend, and get married the next weekend!  WOW!  We believe the thinking behind this is that they have so many out of town guests coming so this way they can attend them both.  But that is a lot to ask from people.  In fact, we have even seen a trend of people having a surprise Wedding at their Stag & Doe!  Can you believe it! We strongly advise against this – too much pressure and trouble to do everything all in one day and you want people to bring you gifts don’t you?!

Holiday Consideration

Anyhow, back to the question at hand – when should I have my Fundraiser.  Stay away from long weekends or too close to national holidays – you want to make sure you get the most amount of people to show up so be smart!  Summers can be tricky because of vacations too – isn’t this a difficult task?  Then you have to work around other Fundraisers or Weddings or big family events because you don’t want them to be back to back.  Basically our recommendation is to check with your closest circle of people and just pick a day, and whoever is meant to come, will be there!

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How to Assemble a Fundraiser Committee

So how many people are needed to plan a Fundraiser? This is not something you want to do alone!  You definitely need to start by getting a Fundraiser Committee of people together (perhaps the wedding party, family members, or close friends) to help organize the Fundraiser as it is way too much work for one or even two people.  Choose people who have maybe done this before for another friend or family member and know what to do.  Choose people that YOU have helped before at their event.  Choose people that are responsible and helpful and that you know will have your back and are happy to help.  There might be some people that you will ask to be a part of your Committee, but that you know won’t do squat!  That is just the way it is as some people are quite selfish.  Sometimes however, they just underestimate how much you really need their help, and they won’t really understand the importance of a team effort until its their turn to hold one for themselves.

Some people are lucky and have people lining up to help, but others have a harder time.  If you are the first person to get married out of your friends’ group, the others will not yet understand what is entailed and won’t really get how much work and help is needed to make it successful.  They may not grasp that the bridal party is supposed to do the majority of ticket sales and other running around and planning.  Sorry about this!  It is very frustrating to be stuck with all the work, and many of our clients complain about this.  So it is up to you to tell people what their jobs are (in a kind way of course).

Pick an appropriate method of updating your Fundraiser Committee Members – whether it be over email, meeting in person once per week, creating a Facebook page, etc.  We like the Facebook page because you can see when people have read things, you can see what others write, you can easily attach pictures, you can create events for meetings, etc.

For your first meeting, make a list of EVERYTHING that you will need to do (by following our handy guide of course), and start delegating.  Please take people up on their offers to help, you will need it!  A lot of people want to help but don’t know what to do to be helpful – so tell them!  Sometimes you will have to be upfront when asking for help, but in the long run, their help will be very useful.

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