I have been a part of Camden Fencing Club for two years. We are one of the most successful and prestigious of the fencing clubs in Great Britain. A few months ago, I suggested organising a fundraiser with an aim to promote fencing in the local community and raise the money for the fencers to compete internationally. I have been fencing for several years. I understand the difficulties a fencing club and an athlete face, and that financial aid of sponsors can develop not only the future of the club but also of the athlete. Although the club had never hosted a fundraiser, my idea was received with great enthusiasm and support by the club committee. Having no prior experience I was very enthusiastic to take up a new challenge and give something back to the club as they have, without a doubt, helped me grow as a fencer. I had precisely six weeks from the date I conjured the idea until the 16th of January 2015, the day of the event.
I was entrusted with the sole responsibility of organising the fundraiser. This entailed not only preparing a fencing match to demonstrate fencing to newcomers and sponsors, but also to provide other forms of entertainment for the night and additionally to organise an auction and raffle as means of raising money in a more entertaining manner. I do enjoy working independently and from organising such a big event as this I have learnt how crucial it is ensure the sport I enjoy along with others is shown to others in the local community in order to try and entice new members. In addition to this, I found out how difficult it is to raise money and convince sponsors to put some of their money towards our club and athletes. The task was not an easy one but it was nevertheless it was enjoyable to work with my club members. Consistent self-motivation and prioritising was required and as a result our aim was achieved and the night was a great success.
The first hurdle was to find a venue. I was very inclined to choose a venue which should inspire the guests. The venue should create an encouraging ambiance and provide a warm environment in which to motivate new members to take up fencing. I was aware that hiring a venue was going to be extremely expensive and combined with finding a location of my choice was inevitably difficult. During this process I have experienced the importance of research, thinking logically and critically in pressurised situations. I had shortlisted both commercial and places with heritage. Since I do not live in London, organising played a key role and time was of the essence during the entire process. My heart was set on Armourers Hall. It was a perfect back drop to host the fundraiser. On my first visit I decided I had to incorporate good negotiation skills and convince the Members of the Armourers hall, it was for a very good cause. I managed to bring down the cost to the bare minimal; this was the first step in the right direction. Since I was aware the club’s pot of resource were limited, I decided to invest my sports aid funds for the fundraiser. The club committee assured me we should have a very positive feedback.
I had to plan and draft invitations and information packages for the event. Through my network of contacts, I sourced designers and printers; I used my IT skills and I assisted in carrying out the job. This helped me keep the costs very low. Geographical location proved a challenge at every stage. My communication and organisation skills had to improve constantly. My responsibilities grew as days passed by. I had to be very meticulous in every job I executed; if not my club reputation was at stake. I ensured I continually reported back to my club chairman, making sure the fundraiser reflects the ethos of the club. I had frequent feedback on all matters reported.
From there on, I had built up a greater sense of confidence. This proved useful when negotiating with Sainsbury’s for food, wine and other products. Allocation of resources and time management was a deciding factor. I was supported by the generosity of these large institutions and their willingness to help our good cause. They appreciated my efforts and good intensions and decided to support myself and the fund-raising event.
I needed to be creative in engaging the guests and to raise money at the fundraiser. I planned the evening should be both entertaining and informative. I had to create avenues where people could contribute and buy, rather than going around asking for donations. I scheduled the evening should comprise of both a fun auction and raffle. I carefully sourced the antique items from family members and other antique shops. They were surprisingly willing to reduce the prices of the items I purchased, considering that it would go towards money being raised to promote fencing.
Leon Paul who is the major suppliers of fencing equipment in the Great Britain was very supportive and after much discussion they allowed us to borrow all the fencing equipment required for the evening. The evening showcased both men’s and women’s fencing from all ages.
I also organised a Go-fence stall, this allowed for guests to try fencing for the first time. However we needed to ensure that matters relating to health and safety were attended to.
I was very lucky in having an absolutely wonderfully talented pianist perform on the night of the event, Adelaide Yue. Additionally, Nikki Nabavi from Year 11 was kind enough to agree to sing at the event. Everyone adored her singing which only made the night even more enjoyable. A big thank you must go to Alicia Wakleing who produced a video documentary of the whole event. She was very skilful and interviewed many of our top fencers from the club on the night also.
I also designed a sports water bottle for our club, which was extremely popular. I began to market the bottle during all the training nights and encouraged every member to buy one. I had to get the pricing right. Sell larger quantities at affordable price was my aim. Hence to achieve this I had to source quality products from a good manufacturer who values the reasons for organising the fundraiser. My research and negotiation skills proved very effective here as I was able to do this.
Georgina Usher the Chief Executive Officer of British Fencing accepted my invitation and confirmed attendance. Two times Great Britain Olympian James Williams agreed to participate and agreed to be the voice of our fundraiser. At this stage my responsibilities narrowed down to delegation and execution. I had to identity persons who shared my enthusiasm for the event and who were willing to help out with the drinks, raffle, auction, bottle sales and collection of entry fee.
I contacted 20 schools in the local area where my club is situated. I contacted estate agents and local businesses in the area of both the fencing club and the Armourers hall, along with several restaurants in London, who were extremely supportive, in providing us with vouchers for meals. Investment banks were contacted in the London city, inviting them to join us at the event. Both BMW and Audi in several locations in Greater London were contacted requesting for their services. All of this was without a doubt time consuming however it aided me in being more time efficient. I received an over whelming amount of responses from everybody, which was great news.
When dealing with the potential sponsors I had to be very respectful and sensitive. I had to speak to them in a way which they would understand my club’s dynamics and respond appropriately. At this stage the event was only one week away. I had worked effectively with every aspect which was in my control. The major influencing factor was the guests who attended on the day. I began my second wave of promotion. I encouraged club members to bring their friends, families and work colleagues. The Armourers hall could accept 100 members, at that moment I had received only 10 confirmed entries. I had no control on this situation I had made sure I had done everything in my control but nevertheless I had all reasons to panic. I re-assured myself that I have tried my best for a good cause; hence I had to just wait and hope for the best.
Members and guests expressed gradual interest. On the day of the event, everything fell into place. We had over 90 guests attending the fundraiser. They all participated and indulged in the event, we received a very positive feedback. The evening commenced at 18.30 and came to an end at 22.30. It was a huge success. We had several enquiries for new membership and in total we had managed to raise £4680 and after expenses paid we still managed to retain £3100.
The event proved to be a great success and as a result my club was encouraged to hold annual fundraisers as we had been very successful in attracting new members and more sponsors.