Competing for CASA

Competing for CASA

Few things excite people more than some friendly competition. The rush of competing paired with the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with helping your community can be rivaled by little else! The following events range from the traditional (like a 5K) to more unique options (like a lip-sync competition), and can attract participants of all ages and backgrounds.

All of these events require a great deal of advertising and marketing, so see section VIII for some tips. They are also good places to hand out information about CASA, so be sure to have an informational table!


5K Races and Runs
One of the most classic fundraising techniques is the tried and true 5K. It's reliable, it brings in plenty of people, and it's a lot of fun. 

Stage One: Organize a Committee
While committees are always useful for any fundraising event, there are certain things that cannot be put together by just a couple of people. A 5K is one of those things. When putting together a committee, contacting a variety of local business owners/potentially interested parties would be a good start. Try to find someone with experience in organizing 5Ks, and make sure you have regular meetings so as to ensure everything is going well every step of the way.

Stage Two: Organizing your Course
Research self-contained locations that would work for your specific community and speak to onsite management to get their approval and cooperation. Once all of this is figured out, contact a race course management group who could certify the 5K course as 3.1 miles. Get maps of the course and mark it onsite with directional signs a couple of days before the event. Also make sure that you contact a timing company and give them the names of the teams and their runners.

Stage Three: Municipal and Event Staff Support
Your next task is to secure support from the community members necessary. First, you should secure municipal permits from the township. Next, you need to contact EMTs and police officers. Pre-event and event traffic support from local police is a helpful part of making sure everything runs smoothly before the event begins. Portable toilets are also integral for an event like this, and securing a vendor in advance will ensure your participants' comfort. Double check with the vendor the night before as well.

After all this, you should start securing other aspects of the event. Food can be obtained by contacting local businesses and asking about in-kind donations. For t-shirts, get at least 3 quotes from different vendors. Determine, based off of how many people express interest in the event and the size of your community, how many of each size to order (make sure to ask about shirt size on your registration form). Do the same general steps for trophies, getting quotes from different vendors. Get enough trophies for the first three places in each age group (age groups should be separated by five years, from ages 10-70). You can also separate by gender. If you do this, the overall winners for each gender can receive a special gift.

A DJ is a fun addition to the staff as well, and you can find one through an online search or other advertising. Find a good location for them at the race site and arrange electrical connections with cooperation from onsite management. Be sure to give the DJ a script for announcements, like time left before the race begins, to get in position to start the race, race results, etc.

Stage Four: Registration
This stage should probably be run concurrently with other stages before it. Set up an account with active.com, which will allow participants to register. Through the same site, set up your campaign homepage and race registration form. Decide if your race will be USATF sanctioned and secure certification if necessary. Consult with an insurance provider and USATF to put together a waiver that will be included in your online registration form. 
Paper copies of the registration forms and waiver should be available for day-of registration. Set up separate tables at the event for pre-registrants to check in and walk-up registrants to sign up. Also have a table to hand out t-shirts.

Stage Five: Fundraising
Just like registration, this stage should be completed along with other previous tasks. With your committee, develop a list of potential sponsors through members' connections and prior supporters. A subcommittee for this task might be helpful, as a small group of people contacting potential sponsors and giving them a sponsorship packet will be more effective. Make follow up calls. Allow individual fundraisers to create pages through active.com, along with staff, committee members, and board members. 

Stage Six: Reminders
Send your participants, sponsors, and other important supporters save the date cards in the mail. Secure race participant and non-participant donations beforehand as well.

Stage Seven: Ready, Set, Go!
The day of your 5K may be a little bit hectic. There are a lot of moving parts, and a lot of different activities going on at once. Make sure that you have experienced volunteers who can run their stations without much oversight. The best way to make sure everything is organized is to prep, so make sure you've dotted your i's and crossed your t's (twice!). Try to make sure you set up water stations along the route to avoid any medical issues, and keep participants excited and happy to make sure they're motivated. 

Tips:
  • Try to find a timing company that has done at least a dozen 5Ks
  • You can get racing bibs through the timing company or Runner's World Magazine to make your 5K look more organized and professional
  • For the portable toilets, a good company to try would be Johnny on the Spot
  • Get several style and fabric options priced for the t-shirts
  • Put together a logo for your event! This will be good for advertising and t-shirts
  • For gifts for the overall winners, you could give out gift certificates or special medals
  • Send out a few reminders to get people to make their own individual fundraiser pages. If that doesn't work, set up pages for them and let them know via email


Karaoke Night
If you're looking for a less active and more subjective event, try a karaoke night! Have your more talented (and less talented, everyone is welcome!) community members go head to head in a singing competition.

Stage One: Location
There's plenty of different places that you could hold this event. A local restaurant willing to donate their space for free publicity and some dinner orders may work and allow for food accommodations. Or, you could hold it in a school cafeteria/auditorium and just use a bake sale for food. Or, you could come up with another location! It's really up to you.

Stage Two: Getting a Machine
A karaoke machine is obviously imperative for this event. There's a couple of ways you could do it: you could rent a machine, or you could hire a DJ who offers karaoke as a service. The option that you choose depends on your budget and specific requirements. 

Stage Three: Judges or Audience Vote?
Do you want your winners to be chosen by a table of elite judges or by audience vote? If you want some experienced judges to select the winners of the competition, try to find community members with some level of understanding of music. Local bands, music teachers, and owners of local music shops may be good options. Judges should interject in between each performance and give reviews. If you'd like there to be a bit of humor, you could add a local comedian to the mix—just make sure to keep it fair and fun! Judges could still be added in for commentary even if you choose you want the audience to vote on a winner, but always make sure that there's a lively host.
If you want the audience to choose winners, you could have them vote via donation or via raffle ticket. You could even do the informal "clap to vote," where your host holds their hand over the individual contestants and the audience cheers for their favorite. 
Regardless, have a good gift certificate for the top three winners.

Stage Four: Sign Up
The easiest way to have people sign up for the event is to have a sheet onsite before the event begins. Have singers/groups sign up at a table where tickets are sold the day of the event, and try to catch impulse participants who might sign up on a whim. You could also set up a Facebook page to get potential participants to sign up before the day of the competition. Make sure to drive home that singers of all levels of experience and ability are encouraged to compete.

Stage Five: The Day of the Event
For the day of the event, try to keep things staffed well with volunteers who can keep everything organized. A raffle would probably be a good activity during an intermission, if you choose to have one. Generally, this is a pretty easily run event that anyone could participate in. It doesn't necessarily need corporate sponsors either, although it would help with funding.

Tips: 
  • Encourage the competitors to choose well-known songs, to keep your audience engaged
  • You might want to choose a well-known, popular community member to act as host


Camp Game Day
Sometimes it's nice to invoke a little sense of nostalgia when organizing events, and there's no better fundraiser to do that with than a camp game day. A day full of old competitions pulled straight out of summer camp is a way to bring together the community and transport adults back to the good old days.

Stage One: Location
Choose somewhere to hold your camp game day that is open and spacious. A school football or soccer field could be a good option that doesn't involve renting a space. Regardless, you're probably going to want somewhere with a lot of grass or turf.

Stage Two: Choosing your Games
You can choose from any variety of summer camp games that involve competition. Pick options that most people know the rules to, and don't take up too much time. Set up a strict tournament for adult competitors and a looser one for kid competitors. Some games you can choose are:
  • Tug of War
  • Kickball
  • Whiffle Ball
  • Tag
  • Dodgeball
  • Simon Says
  • Water Balloon Toss
Stage Three: Sign Up
Have a separate sign up for adult teams and kid teams. Make sure teams are large enough for games like kickball and whiffle ball. You could have them sign up on Facebook beforehand, or you could have them sign up in person, but there should be a limited number of teams to make sure that the tournaments don't go on too long. It should be on a first-come first-serve basis, and all team members should be physically able to participate in every event (unless their team is larger than other teams, in which case someone who is, say, allergic to latex, could sit out of the water balloon toss without making the teams uneven). Have everyone pay to participate so as to offset some of the costs right off the bat. 

Stage Four: Securing Community Support
Just like a 5K, for your camp game day, you need to make sure you have all the permits, police help, portable toilets, and food necessary to keep everything in order. See the 5K Stage Three directions to help you with this. Also, a camp game day, since it will likely be less structured with multiple games running concurrently, would be a good place to have vendors set up tents. They could rent the space at your event to sell things like homemade jewelry or snacks. You also might want to hire an announcer and/or DJ to keep things lively and moving.

Stage Five: Competition Day
Competition day, also like the 5K, will have a lot of moving parts. Leave lots of space for people to lay out blankets to sit and watch the games. Designate certain areas of your location for the activities, and hand out a tournament sheet with times so people know who will be competing against who and when. Sell tickets to get in, and put a separate donation box on the side so anyone who would like to give more than the ticket price may do so.
Have volunteer "refs" who can make sure all the games are fair and prevent cheating. Keep the event light so as to avoid any competitive arguing. Remember, it's still a fundraiser, and everyone should be having a good time! 

Tips:
  • Corporate sponsors may be good for this event, and the vendor tents would be a good place to put advertising
  • Decorate your space with camp-like decorations, and maybe even come up with a name for your "camp" to put on some t-shirts!
  • You might want to choose some people to work as "camp counselors," running the events alongside the refs and keeping everyone cooperative and excited

Lip-Sync Competition
This event is a really creative twist on the more typical karaoke competition. Successfully utilized for CASA fundraising by groups like the Zeta Chi Chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta at Johns Hopkins, a lip-sync competition is a way to involve people who maybe don't want to sing but still like to perform!

Stage One: Location
A lip-sync competition requires a bit more space than perhaps a karaoke night would. Oftentimes, there needs to be room for choreography and big dance numbers. So, try to find a stage that would accommodate such activities. Usually a large school auditorium or community center would be good for this.

Stage Two: Judges or Audience Vote?
Just like for karaoke night, you have to choose if you want your winners to be chosen via judge decision or audience vote. If you want some experienced judges to select the winners of the competition, try to find community members with some level of understanding of music. Local bands, music teachers, and owners of local music shops may be good options. Judges should interject in between each performance and give reviews. If you'd like there to be a bit of humor, you could add a local comedian to the mix—just make sure to keep it fair and fun! Judges could still be added in for commentary even if you choose you want the audience to vote on a winner. Regardless, make sure you have a lively host.
If you want the audience to choose winners, you could have them vote via donation or via raffle ticket. You could even do the informal "clap to vote," where your host holds their hand over the individual teams and the audience cheers for their favorite. 
Regardless, have a good gift certificate for the top three teams.

Stage Three: Team Registration
Lip-sync competitions are the most fun in teams. People of all ages can sign up in groups and should give you the song they plan on doing. Tell them to put together a performance that they think could wow their audience. Costumes, props, and easy set pieces should be encouraged to make the show as fun for everyone as possible. 

Stage Four: Music
Decide whether you’re going to have a DJ playing the music for your contestants or if you'll be playing it over speakers. It would probably be best to just play it over a speaker system to cut down on costs and space needed, but a good DJ could eliminate the need for a host, so do what works for you and your location. Make sure that the music is audible, though—it is incredibly important that everyone can hear what the competitors are lip-syncing along to.

Stage Five: Performance Time!
When the day comes, have people selling tickets at the door (and try to sell advanced tickets beforehand as well). Try doing a raffle and/or bake sale, too. If your location doesn't have a bathroom, make sure that you have portable toilets available. Before the show, run through each group's performance for a sound check. 

When people get there, organize all of the teams backstage in the order that they will be going on. Make sure that whoever is hosting has a clear list of team names and songs. And have a good time!

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