How to Host a Bingo Night Fundraiser
What better way to feel good and have fun than by organising your very own bingo fundraiser? If you’ve ever hosted your own bingo night, you’ll already be aware of some of the things you need to think about. But when the goal is to make profit for charity, the stakes are suddenly a lot higher.
With that in mind, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to running a successful bingo night fundraiser. Prepare to be inspired...
Choosing a charity
When planning a fundraiser, one of the first things you’ll need to do is decide which charity- or charities- will benefit from your efforts. You may choose to contribute your profits towards a bigger fundraising initiative (like Comic Relief), or opt for a cause that’s close to your heart. For a really personal event, perhaps think of a charity has helped you, a friend or relative: this can be a way of thanking them and giving something back.
To encourage attendance, make sure people know who it is that you’re supporting and what good work they do. Talk specifics: if you can, give your guests an idea of what their money is going to be used for. People are far more willing to part with their cash if they can really imagine the benefits it will provide.
Your perfect venue is the one where you can accommodate the right amount of people for the right cost.
There’s nothing saying you need to hire a venue- if your event is quite a small affair, you might be able to squeeze into someone’s house or garden.
Alternatively, school, church and village halls are all ideal options for hosting a few more people. If you can drum up enough interest and set your ticket prices right, then the money you make should more than cover the venue costs, with plenty left over for charity.
Think about tables, chairs and spacing at your venue, before deciding on optimal numbers for the event. A hired venue can usually give you some idea- they will have a maximum capacity as part of their fire regulations- but you don’t want people turning up to find that there isn’t anywhere for them to sit!
If your event is on the bigger side, make sure to ticket your event, and keep track of the amount that have been bought. That way, if you haven’t sold out, there’s a chance to spread the word that tickets can be purchased on the door.
Food and Drinks
Depending on the time of your event, you may wish to provide snacks, or even a meal. This doesn’t have to bust your budget, however. Invite people to contribute items to a bring and share picnic, or ask for volunteers to make sandwiches, or supply finger food.
You could even make money off nibbles. A bake sale, selling slices of cakes and buns, is a great addition to any fundraiser, and an easy way to add to your profits.
Plastic cups and help-yourself bottles of soft drinks are an easy option for keeping everyone hydrated.
If you’re wanting alcohol to be part of the event, you may find that your venue price includes use of the bar. Alternatively, getting guests to bring along their own alcoholic drinks could help avoid the need for a licence. Make sure to check with your venue that this will not be a problem.
Remember to schedule in breaks between some of the games for people to take advantage of any food and drinks on offer.
Essential Bingo Supplies
When preparing for a bingo night, there are some supplies that simply cannot be skimped on. But because the event is for charity, you don’t want to spend too much on these items. We’ve come up with the ways that will enable you to put on a professional bingo night on a tiny budget.
Make your own tickets for free with our print and play customisable bingo cards. Clear instructions talk you through every step, helping you to personalise your title and design. Consider sticking to your charity’s colour theme, or go bright and multicoloured for a real party atmosphere.
Top Tip: Have some spare paper on hand, in case you run out of bingo cards. Get guests to write their own numbers, then swap with the person opposite for ultimate mayhem.
Traditionally, bingo daubers are used to mark off numbers on a card. If you’ve saved up enough Port Points, you could always get these with an Amazon voucher.
Alternatively, if these are out of price range, you can always buy multipacks of different coloured biros instead. Place enough for each person on every table, and keep a few spares in case any run out.
Why bother splashing out on a bingo cage and bingo balls, when you can use a random number generator (RNG) online for no cost at all?
Our electronic bingo caller is reliably random, and lets you choose between manual and autoplay.
If you can’t find a willing bingo caller, then the RNG tool can also do the job. Simply turn up the sound on your computer, laptop or mobile device, and the numbers will be read out as they appear. You could even project them onto a big screen for more impact!
However, for a truly professional feel to your fundraiser, a human bingo caller will go a long way. Not only will they help keep the crowd engaged, but they can also act as host of the whole fundraiser, announcing winners and presenting prizes. Choose someone outgoing, upbeat and with a knack for keeping people entertained- check out these top tips on becoming the best bingo caller.
Use bingo calls for an extra element of fun. Our electronic RNG will display the traditional sayings associated with each number- or you could even make up your own! Also consider whether the bingo caller will need a microphone. If so, will your venue supply this?
Prizes are essential to any bingo fundraising initiative. The great thing about an event like this is that people of any age can enjoy it. If children are likely to be present, you’ll need to think up some family friendly bingo prize ideas.
Joke prizes will help to keep the mood light and cheerful (and can be suitable for all ages), or you could always opt for a theme. For instance, if you’ve chosen to support a heart charity, you could present heart-shaped cushions; ornamental hanging hearts; teddy bears holding love hearts… the possibilities are endless! Work up an atmosphere by announcing the next prize before each round of bingo.
Small prizes like sweets, chocolates or brightly coloured bingo daubers are great for add-on games (see below for some ideas).
You may find that by approaching local businesses and shops, you’re able to get some prizes for free. Tell them that you’ll credit them during the fundraiser, and a little about where the proceeds are going—it’ll be a great advertisement for their business, and will help to reduce your outgoings. Win-win.
The Nitty Gritty
Once you’ve got the essential bingo supplies sorted, it’s time to think about other details that will really help to put the fun in fundraiser.
Different Bingo Variations
90 and 75 ball bingo are the most popular bingo games, and the aim, generally, is to get a ‘Full House.’ But to keep your crowd interested, consider alternative variations, such as different patterns that must be crossed off, or offering a prize for combined group total- which table has the most numbers crossed off between them, when bingo is called? Games like these will help players get to know other people, and encourage some good-spirited competition.
Intersperse bingo with other games, like a raffle or tombola. You could charge extra for these tickets- and don’t forget that each game you play will require prizes.
For extra fun, theme your fundraiser. Dressing up really helps people get into the spirit of an event: you could base it around a specific era, film characters, or the colours of the charity you’re supporting. Have a prize ready for the best outfit.
There is no need to get a licence to host a one-off charity bingo night charity fundraiser, so all that’s left to organise is how you’re going to spread the word!
Are you inviting only people you know, or is anyone welcome to come and join in? Posters and flyers are great for attracting attention, and you can make an event on Facebook to help advertise your efforts. Don't forget, if you make the event public or put it on Facebook, anyone can decide to come.
Use this checklist as a ticket template, to ensure that guests know all essential information.
- Date and time
- Chosen charity
- Cost (and what the price will include (eg. 1 bingo card for each game. If necessary, advise people to bring cash for extra cards, food stalls, alcohol, or raffle tickets)
- Dress code / theme
- Age restrictions (if in place)
Phew! Organising a bingo fundraiser definitely requires a fair bit of thought! But in the end, when you’re able to send off your profits to charity, all your hard work will suddenly seem worth it.
There are few better feelings in the world than knowing you’ve helped others; by following this guide, you can not only host a successful event, but also have fun along the way.