Finding the right fundraising formula

Finding the right fundraising formula
The Edenderry Oscarz event, featuring a recreation of a scene from the 2008 action movie, ‘Taken’.

Bingo nights and white-collar boxing. Strictly Come Dancing and race meetings.

Every sports club is trying to raise funds — particularly a this time of the year — but how can it be done to maximise the return for the club?

Picking up the phone to Jimmy Boucher in might be a good start.

“We do a range of events across three levels, basically. We have an entry-level event, a race night, which is the backbone of sports club

fundraising all over Ireland. You could describe this level as non-contestant participant events.

“Things like The Cube and I’m A Celebrity shows - the clubs provide 24 or 36 contestants, but they don’t have to do any work. The club can make a nice few bob on that without having to do too much.”

Interesting. What if the club members are willing to dig in and work, though?

“Then you move on to level two, which is the Strictly Come Dancing show or the white-collar boxing, those are the main events at that level.

“That involves more work, there may be six weeks of prior training and you have to get contestants to commit to that, so there’s a lot more


And the top level?

“Then you have the creme de la creme events,” says Boucher.

“The Broadway show and the OSCARZ show. We did an OSCARZ night recently for Edenderry GAA club, for

instance, and what happens is the club recreates one of 11

famous movies - The Quiet Man, The Snapper, the likes of those.

“They create a ten-minute video with our help. We provide everything that’s needed, the drama coaching, costume designers, film crews, and it’s a massive event for us, never mind the clubs.”

Clearly - but what if more than one club wants the level three events? Boucher’s firm can handle the extra commitment, he says.

“The other night we had an OSCARZ event in Edenderry GAA club, but the same night we had another OSCARZ night going on in Meath.

“We also had a Strictly event in a club in Leitrim, and we had I’m a Celebrity in

Armagh and The KUBE in a Galway club.

“So we had five shows, five trucks - and over 150 people from our firm working on them. There are three strands to the business, fundraising events for clubs, but also office events like Christmas parties, corporate events, and then there’s the live events — rock concerts and the like in the 3Arena.

It’s a massive operation — the clubs commit massively to the events, so we need to match their commitment.

That’s more than a throwaway phrase. Boucher and his staff have seen how, in his words, a big event can take over even a small place.

“Clonea GAA club down in Waterford have about 600 people registered as living in the town or the parish, but when they had their Strictly event there were over 1,900 people there.

“The interest can be massive. At one white-collar boxing event I remember someone from a club saying if you got Barry McGuigan to take on Michael Carruth in the 3Arena you might sell 500 tickets, but if it’s Paddy Murphy and Joe Bloggs from the GAA club taking each other on in a boxing ring in the local pub you could sell 1,000 tickets, and he was right.”

It’s a model based on the band-and-promoter template in the music.

“We’ve switched it around, if you like, from just giving a club 300 raffle tickets and saying ‘sell those and make a few bob.’ We’re giving that show to the local club.

“If Take That are on tour and come to Ireland, they give the gig to MCD, say, who’ll sell all the tickets, the same everywhere around Europe. The promoter buys the show, and the clubs are, in effect, buying the show off us. All they need to do then is to come in for the gig.

“Everything is an adaptation of something famous. Sometimes that’s the trick, as when we had a run-in with the Oscars a few years ago. Their European trademark holders had a chat with us.

“But it’s a fundraiser. The likes of Colm Meaney was amazed there was so much interest still in The Snapper, but there is. And because it’s money for people’s clubs, they’re always willing to get involved.”

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