7 top tips for organising charity events

  • Charity events can be major sources of income for small charities
  • Making these events as safe as possible can be key to their success
  • We look at seven of the main areas your charity should consider when planning an event

Preparation is key to running a safe and successful charity event. Below are seven simple tips that can help you to ensure your event runs without a hitch.

1. Identify event type and activities

A good understanding of what activities will be available at the event – whether it’s a bonfire night with a fireworks display, or a children’s walk in the park – will help organisers to inform risk assessments and plan for the event.

2. Understand who the audience will be

If you know that the event will attract lots of young children, older people or those with disabilities, then you may need to consider having adapted facilities or arrangements in place. For example: changing facilities, lost children help-points, suitable toilets and specific access routes. Likewise, if there are VIPs attending your event, such as a celebrity ambassador, then specific security arrangements may also be needed.

3. Keep the crowd safe

The number of attendees will influence the amount of stewarding that is needed, as well as arrangements for vehicle parking and pedestrian access. If your event is likely to attract large crowds then appointing a stewarding co-ordinator to oversee the arrangements is advised. More information on crowd safety is available free of charge from the Health and Safety Executive.

4. Vehicle access

Consider whether any large vehicles need access to the event site, and whether there are any areas with soft or uneven ground, that may add additional risk. Try, as far as possible, to only have moving vehicles on the site when the number of attendees is at a minimum and plan the vehicle routes to minimise interaction with pedestrians. A useful transport checklist can be found on the HSE’s website.

5. Carry out a risk assessment

A risk assessment is key to event safety planning. Careful attention to the risk assessment process should go a long way to ensuring that risks are identified, allowing adequate time for preventative measures to be taken.

The risk assessment doesn’t have to be complicated, but it should be proportionate to the activity. For instance, a large-scale bungee jump will involve a more extensive assessment than a small playgroup picnic in the park.

By keeping records you can show that significant risks have been identified and adequate controls have been put in place. It is also important to remember why you are having the event (and taking some risks) so include the benefits of the event in your risk assessment. These may include generating income, encouraging additional events, attracting visitors or raising the profile of your charity’s cause.

The HSE has more information on completing risk assessments.

6. Develop an event safety plan

An event safety plan should contain a record of all health and safety arrangements, including first aid facilities, staff and volunteer training, the storage of gas and electricity, vendors’ safety and insurance arrangements.

The plan needs to be communicated to staff and volunteers well before the event. This can then be refreshed in a team briefing immediately before the event begins.

It is also important to think about how communications will work during the event – do stewards have the means and contact details to call for assistance when necessary, or to receive updated instructions? How will the crowd receive communications – PA systems, directional signs, information signs? Include all communication arrangements in staff training.

The HSE has further guidance on organising an event safely.

7. Inspect and debrief

Inspect the event site before, during and after the event, to ensure that no significant hazards have been missed or changed. It may be that the site layout has changed or that poor weather has meant that an area has now become unusable.

The inspection beforehand gives an opportunity to make changes in advance. The inspection during the event picks up any immediate changes needed. The after inspection ensures that the site has been returned to a safe condition.

Written records of all of these inspections should be maintained. These, along with a debrief at the end of the event, provide a learning aid for future events.