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How to host a comedy fundraiser

Community, Fundraising

19 October 2018

Blenheim comedy night

On the 27th and 28th of July, Silvia Hodel and a friend ran a comedy weekend in Marlborough that raised nearly $13,0000 for MND New Zealand and the Graeme Dingle Foundation. Silvia explains how they did it.

My sister had been running comedy fundraisers for years, and they were always such a fun night with so many laughs – everyone always left happy. To me, a comedy night seemed fitting for a MND fundraiser. My sister was diagnosed with MND in 2016, aged just 40. MND is so horrible, debilitating and so very sad, I felt a comedy night was a good idea for lifting spirits and bringing some joy.

I used the comedian contacts that my sister had, and I am happy to pass these on to anyone who would like to organise a comedy night (email ). I sorted a venue – or in this case, two venues – and set to work sourcing auction items and raffle items. I used the contacts I already had, and then I called and emailed other businesses asking for a donation and telling them what the money raised would be used for.

A few months out, it was time to release ticket sales. We did this through Eventbrite ( Then it was all about advertising the event through a Facebook page, posters, an interview with the local newspaper, and emailing everyone and every local business we could. We also did a ticket giveaway on The Hits radio station to the person who told the best joke.

After the event, we made sure we let everyone know how much was raised. Then we sent thank you cards to everyone who helped and the people who donated prizes, with a small message to let them know how thankful we were.


Silvia’s top tips:

  • Keep it simple, especially for your first event. We served platters of food, each item donated from a different local business, which took a lot of organising and time. Next time, I’ll keep the food very simple!
  • It’s easier to organise one large event rather than two smaller ones. Next time, I’ll find a larger venue!
  • Don’t price people out of the event. Choose a target market and have your venue and prices aimed at this. We held two events; one venue was cheaper and in a less affluent area. Next time, I’d lower the prices for the event at the cheaper venue.
  • Make sure you put the ticket purchase link on the posters and every email you send.
  • Support your sponsors! Businesses hope for some good publicity in return for their sponsorship or donation, so mention them whenever you can, give them shout-outs on social media, and have their branding at the event and on posters and flyers.
  • Donations and sponsorship is a numbers game: if you ask 100 business, you might get support from 20. Remember, businesses get hammered for donations all the time, so reply with a thank you even if they have said no!
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