Step-by-step: race night
Looking for an entertaining event to gee up your
parents? Look no further! Race nights are an entertaining way to
get people together, promising a lively night of shouting as
participants cheer their horses over the finish line!
There are two main ways of running this event: either by paying
a specialist to deliver the entertainment for you, or by purchasing
a DIY race-night pack online. Funds are raised by charging an
admission fee, offering a hot meal, running a bar, seeking
sponsors, selling jockey slots and from bets in the tote.
- Choose a date and time for your event, book your school hall
and send out a 'save the date' notification to parents. Recruit
volunteers - as you will require a compere on the night, plus
people to run the tote, serve food and drinks and sell raffle
tickets. Approach local businesses about sponsoring each round and
ask whether they can also donate prizes for the winners - explain
exactly what coverage they will get in return (i.e. announcements
by compere, details on race cards, coverage in letters home to
parents, etc). If running a raffle or auction, seek prizes for
these too. Decide whether you will serve food, and if this will be
prepared on the premises or delivered by a local restaurant. If
providing food, include this in the ticket price and invite people
to pre-order, noting any dietary requirements. Alternatively, ask
guests to bring their own food and provide extra rubbish bags.
Start selling tickets for £3-5 each, or up to £10 if providing
food. Encourage class reps to fill a table.
- Make sure you have a PA system, microphone, DVD
player/projector and screen, and confirm that you can borrow tables
and chairs from the school. Spread the word using posters (see tips
and advice), letters and social media. Order your race-night kit or
confirm the event details with your supplier.
- Finalise any refreshments and food that you're providing and
agree who will be in charge of buying the stock and serving on the
night. Any sale or supply of alcohol, even if included in the
ticket price, will require a TEN. Submit an application to your
local council at least ten working days before your event.
- Pick up your cash floats and arrive early to set up your venue.
If running a raffle or auction, encourage guests to buy tickets or
place bids as they arrive, then announce the winners at the end.
Once guests have arrived, get your compere to explain how the
evening will work. Present prizes and cash winnings at the end of
each race. At the end of the night, draw the raffle, if running
one, and encourage everyone to put betting slips and other rubbish
in the bins provided!
- Have a post-event debrief with your team to discuss what worked
well and what might need tweaking. Cultivate relationships with
sponsors by sending them thank-you letters noting how much the
event raised and how this has contributed towards your fundraising
Race night tips and advice
- Licensing: Race nights can be run for
charitable purposes, under the terms of non-commercial gaming. This
is where the selection of a 'horse' by a participant is totally
dependent on chance, and no 'odds' or 'form' are available to
assist selection. Such nights can be run without a licence, or any
other form of permission, providing the operation of the gaming
meets the following terms as set out by the Gambling Commission:
'Non-commercial prize gaming - The players must be told what good
cause will benefit from the profits of the gaming. The prizes must
be advertised in advance and must not depend on the number of
people playing or the stakes raised. In non-commercial prize
gaming, the "race" determines the individual winner or winners -
for example, those who have paid are allocated or select a named
horse in the race. The winners are then awarded the prizes that had
been advertised in advance.' For more information, visit the Gambling Commission. If running a bar, remember
that you will need to submit a Temporary Event Notice to your local
council at least ten days prior to the event. This is a simple
process and, as the profit potential is huge, don't be put off by
any licensing requirements! For more information on licences, click here.
- Marketing: For a quick solution for promoting
your event, use the editable poster service provided by PTA Print
Shop. Simply choose a design and input your event details. 10 x
A3 posters cost just £9.95 (plus p&p).
- Boost profits: Increase revenue by serving
food such as fish and chips, curry or pizza - increase your ticket
price accordingly. Run a raffle on the night, securing prizes from
local sponsors. Or, if sourcing prize donations is too much work,
run a 100-square grid on the night, giving a percentage of the
takings as a prize (usually 25-50%). Read more about boosting
Heather Human, committee member, The Hall School
Association, Glenfield, Leicestershire (436 pupils): 'Our
'pizza and ponies' family night ran from 6-8pm. It required quite a
few helpers in the betting office, but as we used tokens (sold at
the beginning of the night - eight tokens for £4), it was much
easier than handling cash.
A local pizza company provided three large pizzas for £10. We
had four races before the food was delivered, then a few more
races, then the raffle.
My advice for other PTAs is to have lots of change for paying
out - don't rely on the money that people bring as that will all be
in notes. Write down the name/number of the winner of each race -
someone will come to the payout desk with a "winning" ticket from
three races ago and you'll need to know!
Keep pizza choices to a minimum and have people's orders written
on their tickets for when they queue up. I would also advise
playing the DVD through beforehand and checking that the winning
horses are evenly spread out (we discovered that horse two wins a
lot more often than the rest!) and weed out any longer races. It
was a very noisy event, but made a great family night out for
everyone from children to grandparents, and we raised over
Hannah Mayhew, Secretary, Hoxne School Association, St
Edmund's Primary, Suffolk (67 pupils): 'Our PTA
decided to try a new event - an evening of horse racing. I
researched the possibility of getting a company to run it for
us, but they would have taken a large chunk of our profit, so we
decided to purchase a DIY kit from Amazon for £17.99. The pack
included the DVD and betting tickets, as well as a duel forecast
sheet to enable us to raise even more on the night.
I wrote to local businesses to ask them to sponsor a race at a
cost of £25 - in return they were promoted by the compere on the
night and also featured in the programme.
We sold horses at a cost of £5 per horse. The school is based in
a small rural community and is the hub of the village, so people
were happy to participate, especially with the chance of winning a
bottle of wine. This meant local people could support the school
even if they couldn't attend on the night.
We sold the jockeys at a cost of £3 per rider. We sent a letter
out to all the parents and children asking them to be a virtual
jockey! Successful riders won a tub of sweets.
We sold 50 tickets at a cost of £7.50 per ticket, which included
a hot meal of lasagne and salad followed by sticky toffee pudding.
To keep things simple, we asked people to bring their own drinks.
The minimum bet was set at £1.
On the night, we had four volunteers - a compere, two people on
the tote and our 'tech man', who played and stopped the DVD and
dimmed the lights!
We increased profits by holding a raffle, with all prizes
donated by parents. There were four races, a break for food and
drawing the raffle, then another four races. We had a fabulous
night and raised a total of £1,264.50.'
The above is intended as guidance only. We
recommend that you contact the relevant organisations with specific
reference to insurance, legal, health and safety and child
protection requirements. Community Inspired Ltd cannot be held
responsible for any decisions or actions taken by a PTA, based on
the guidance provided.
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