Charity fundraising: how to host great events for good causes

There are many reasons to put on an event, and at Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe we are familiar with most of them.

We regularly host weddings, birthday celebrations, Christmas parties and corporate bashes, along with any other excuse for a party you can think of.

Many of our favourite and most rewarding evenings to host have been charity events. They are often big and glamorous, sometimes raucous and always worthwhile, however, they do take a lot of precision to successfully pull off.

Here are our top tips on what to remember when planning a charity gala or event:

Time and time again

Even more than at other parties, it’s important for charity events to stick to a strict timetable. There will very often be multiple speeches, and the pinnacle of the night is likely to involve fundraising in the form of an auction or sale. It’s crucial that both drink and food come out swiftly, and are cleared away just as promptly, to allow guests to focus their attentions on raising those all-important funds not finishing what’s on their plates.

Indulgent and accessible

The balance between indulgence and extravagance can be hard to get right. A charity gala is meant to be glamorous and decadent, and there’s good anecdotal evidence to suggest that the more spoilt guests feel, the more they are likely to bid or donate. That said, these events often rely on sponsors to contribute. We offer bowl food and canapé options for a more flexible alternative to a seated dinner, and have different spaces to suit all manner of budgets.

Make it memorable

If you can ensure guests remember your event, you will make sure they remember your charity too. That’s why it’s always worth thinking outside the box, spending time on fun added extras and picking a venue which has something special going on. At Swan we can provide magicians, cabaret, bands, actors and acrobats as well as photo booths and stage set-style decoration. Plus we’ll endeavour to get our hands on anything else you’re after. Our Underglobe space is also pretty memorable, not to mention our iconic location.

The practicalities

With important speeches and money-making auctions on the line-up, there’s no room for technical errors or oversights at big charity dos. An AV system that leaves people struggling to hear what’s going down, or the lack of a screen due to connectivity issues could seriously impact the amount raised. Guests holding an event in our Underglobe have access to stage lighting, a speech PA system, projectors and crew. Because we offer these services in-house we are able to offer excellent value and — crucially — guarantee quality and be on-hand for technical support.

Quality throughout

The nature of a charity event is that it is indulgent and splendid — after all, people will often be paying a lot to be there. The aim is to make guests feel like they are wrapped up in bubble of luxury. Be it canapés, bowl food, platters or a seated multi-course meal, quality is the common thread that holds our menus together. All our food is created by our executive chef Allan Pickett, and is produced to the same high level that you’d expect in the restaurant itself.


As well as fundraising, a charity event is an opportunity for your guests to feel inspired by your cause, whether it is ongoing sponsorship or just getting more involved. We have been lucky enough to host some fantastic, inspirational charities including:

A Mad Hatter’s Tea Party for children’s cancer charity Teens Unite for 70 in our Balcony room, complete with cocktails in teacups, giant playing cards and tiny shrunken menus, complete with the necessary magnifying glass for ordering.

A 20th anniversary celebration dinner for Hope & Homes for more than 240 guests in our Underglobe space, who tucked into a three-course seasonal British menu topped off with candelabras, a string quartet and a magician for all-night enchantment.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream fantasy ball for Clic Seargent, fundraising for children and young people living with cancer. Our Underglobe space transformed into an ethereal playground filled with informal courses, including canapés and a cheese station.

If you are thinking of hosting a charity bash, whether it is an intimate meal or a full-scale gala, you can get in touch to find out more about our events .

Or feel free to get in touch with your own inspirational ideas, we always love to hear your thoughts and suggest ways to bring your event to life.