“Having been a guest at the Burns Supper in previous years it was an amazing experience to get to work behind the scenes and see how the Burns Supper is organised. It is safe to say there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes.
As soon as I started in January it was all hands on deck to get prizes for the auction and tombola. As a team we also had to try and sell table sponsorship packages and tickets for the night. I have learnt a lot from the ACK team about how to plan such a large event. Everyone in the ACK team works really well and I love that ideas bounce off each other.
The hardest bit I found was getting large organisations to support a small charity, I wasn’t expecting this. A lot of the large organisations have set charities- the majority of these are large well known charities, such as Cancer research, Great Ormond Street, CHAS, etc. This sadly meant we could not rely on them for donations. However, we found that smaller business were more willing to support the event and donated some amazing prizes. From this I would target larger organisations to choose Pamis as their chosen charity and apply for donations from these organisations further in advance as many hold monthly draws for charities- which we sadly missed out on a couple of them.
Going into shops and restaurants worked really well in Dundee, however, we didn’t get anything when this was done in St Andrews. In future, it think we should target other areas where there is a Pamis office, to get the local community to support a local charity and make them more aware of Pamis.
From this experience I have also learnt not to be afraid to clarify what is being donated. This came after a slight mishap with gin. From the email is sounded like we were getting an individual box of Shetland gin and not 15.
We had a lot of last minute prizes being handed in just days before the event, it would be good to start getting prizes earlier and having a deadline- so that it doesn’t hold other team members up doing the programme and silent auction booklet.
Set up on the night was quick and easy as most things had been organised in the office. I helped with setting up the tombola and auction. Both of these proved extremely popular on the night. The only thing I would look at changing is to have an extra table for the tombola prizes and to have them laid out in number order so winners could find their prize easier. I think the tombola worked really well as it gave an alternative option to the auction and was more affordable for some guests.
The games proved a huge hit with everyone on my three tables. Everyone took part in heads and tails and the majority took part in the Gin Game. I thought it was a good idea having the games affordable as there were several families attending and it meant their kids could also get involved. I couldn’t believe how busy Win the Bottle was. I think the rules may need to be made clearer next year, as I wasn’t aware that if you hit the bottle you won.
The night ran really smoothly and was one of the best burns suppers I have attended. Having food before the speeches worked really well. This years toast to the Lassies was my favourite, it really linked in with PAMIS and included those who couldn’t attend the event- there were a couple of people crying on my side of the room. I think shorter speeches keep the night flowing and keep everyone interested. I heard several people say it was the best Burns Suppers they had attended.
I think going forward and looking at ACK’s 8th Annual Burns Supper for Pamis we should keep the tombola and silent auction. Keep the speeches short and get them to link to Pamis and those that use the services. It might also be good to get flyers for Pamis staff to carry and hand out throughout the year, then when they meet organisations that could be potential table sponsors for the event or donors they can inform them of the event. This may also push ticket sales. I think next year we could also pop a save the date on each persons table setting and on the slide show so that they can get it in their diary- as I know not all the guests do social media.
It was an amazing event and I’m very proud to say that I played a part in raising £5000 for Pamis. I can’t wait for the next one.”
Alice (far right) with sisters Rosie and Alissa.
Alice Miller, ACK Community Fundraising Intern