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Creating My First Charity Event: Part 1

Sound ambitious? If not, than you may already be an experienced event coordinator and think sorting out partnerships, vendors, permits and paperwork are a walk in the park. For the rest of us who are looking to give back to our community without the knowhow, I wrote this piece to show how a fun idea could become an annual event that gives back to our communities.

1. Supporting a Cause Today’s world is filled with causes worth fighting for. With a wealth of information at the other end of our computer screens, the injustices, the pollution, the lack of violence can all be inundating. In the face of such adversities a common response is to go numb. Try taking a different approach. Look at the many different ailments in your area and abroad, and consider these as opportunities for you to make a meaningful difference in this world. Then look into who is already doing something about it.

For me the cause I am most passionate about is environmental conservation. Nature is much more beautiful when there is diversity and abundance. This led me on a search for active conservation efforts in southern California. After searching, I found WILDCOAST was celebrating 15 years of environmental stewardship. To date, they have helped conserve more than 17,536 acres of Marine Protected Areas in Southern California. With milestones like that, I knew that donated dollars would be well spent. Check them out at

Teamwork makes the world work

2. Unfolding your Idea

Some would say that nothing happens over night, but Ideas… Your thought may come from hours of pacing back and forth, days of drawing out diagrams, or a sudden epiphany while singing in the shower. Before committing to the idea, make sure it is something you really care about, because there is quite a bit of work involved. You’re still passionate? Ok. Start evaluating your idea.

Questions you should ask:

Who do I contact for information on how to hold an event in my city? What permits and paperwork are required and their due dates? How much will the permits and supplies cost? How will the event be funded? (ticket sales, raffles, sponsorships) What are the legal risks involved with the event? Is insurance required? Will there be live entertainment at the event? Why should people care?

3. Creating the Website

The year is 2015 and a polished website can have a greater impact on a person’s perception than a two story office building. The URL is not 100% necessary; however, having a website or landing page to reference adds a level of legitimacy to your cause. This will come in handy when you are reaching out for partnerships and promoting the event.

No need to shell out $10,000 for a semi-professional site that needs ongoing maintenance. Save that for the folks with deep pockets.

Search around for a free website builder that works for you. I had little to no prior website developing experience before I set out on this mission. Luckily, there are online platforms that make web developing like a dumbed down version of Photoshop. Take your time, learn the tricks, but honestly you can build a decent website with a few days’ work. Not all of them will give you the result and the editing capabilities you need. I found a more user friendly one that costs a bit more, but is well worth the DIY capabilities that help avoid web development fees. You can use Wordpress, FourSquare, Wix, or whichever one suits your fancy. By the end of the day I ended up with a pretty flashy first time side at

4. Permits and Paperwork

Consider the scale of your event and if taking this the full 9 yards is worth the cost of event permits and fees. Is this a backyard BBQ to help donate $100 dollars to your favorite uncle? Oh, it’s bigger than that. Well then you should file all required paperwork and make your event legit. Depending on your location and what the event entails, you will have different necessary costs. This can include: Special Event Permit, Facility Use Fee, Police Officer presence, and Event Insurance. These are costs that are usually unavoidable.

For me, the event had to be at the beach. Of course. I first reached out to the city clerk’s office for San Diego and a nice lady there gave me information. Turns out any events held on the state parks is filed through the Special Events Coordinator for CA State Parks. After an email and conversation with them, I received a bundle of paperwork to fill out and an outline of the fees. The paperwork is fairly straight forward and will force you to flush out your ideas including a vendor list and a detailed site map. Turn your paperwork in early, at least 30 days prior to the event to make sure any changes or missing signatures are included before late fees kick in.

5. Taking it to market

To be continued… Creating My First Charity Event Part 2

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