KIND LUXURY MAGAZINE AUGUST 2017
LIZ BREWER: KEY INGREDIENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL CHARITY EVENT
Liz Brewer, the world’s most famous party planner, makes the most of her creativity to give something back by organising countless high profile fundraising events, attended by royalty, celebrities and the elite of the business world some of whom she counts among her close friends.
Following the success of Liz’s Book ‘The Party Bible’, she was selected as the etiquette and social behaviour teacher for a five year period filming the successful ITV award winning series ‘Ladette to Lady’. She has now published a second book called ‘Liz Brewer’s Ultimate Guide to Party Planning and Etiquette’ which provides some great tips on how to organise your next personal party or charity event.
Kind Luxury had the pleasure to speak with Liz to discuss what it takes to put on a successful charity event.
You are the world’s most famous party planner with a client list of the rich and famous. How did you get started?
Ever since I was a child I’ve loved organising parties, starting with my own. Having left the UK in my teens I was somehow courageous enough to start my own nightclub in Portugal’s Algarve, having run away from home! It was the first such venture in that country and as I already had quite a flamboyant profile in the UK press they were keen to follow my progress. Bear in mind back then we had very few magazines and newspapers, so news really did spread virally.
Over the years I have been fortunate enough to have organised some significant and memorable occasions. However, I must stress that one of the most important ingredients, apart from the obvious, is always making certain that the guest list includes variety.
I have always believed that a healthy mix of ‘Sugar & Spice’ is of major importance when choosing and then inviting guests.
Richard Branson & Liz on his inaugural Virgin flight to San Francisco.
It’s also essential to be aware that the duty of the host or organiser is to make sure that chosen guests circulate widely and are introduced to like-minded people. There is nothing more awkward than arriving at a party and having been greeted by the host and you are left standing in a sea of unknown faces!
You are known to lay on unusual and imaginative events. Where do you get your inspiration for such occasions and which one was the most eccentric yet?
I’ve always believed you need to dream the whole event in your mind.
Inspiration is not something I can define but I’ve always loved creating the ideas and then making them happen.
The most eccentric party was actually one of the first I arranged in the UK. The venue was the Lyceum Theatre where we created Brighton Pier leading on to the stage, complete with a ‘What the Butler Saw’ machine featuring Lady Colin Campbell in the bath and Nigel Dempster as the Butler! It was the early 70’s and the charity ball was to raise funds for The Council for the Protection of Rural England.
Over the years you have organised many charity events. For which charities have you put on events and what type were they?
This list is really too long to answer but the most memorable were:
- Launching a charity to promote ‘Research into Ovarian Cancer’ for now one of my dearest friends, Niki Cole;
- The Council for the Protection of Rural England – ‘England Balls’ for the late Lord Henley;
- ‘The National Kidney Research Fund
- ‘Life after Breast Cancer’ under the umbrella of the Charity RAFT; and
- ‘The Sean Edwards Foundation’ to raise safety awareness in motorsport.
To spread the cost of the event’s budget do you ever work with leading Brands when you put on charity events? And what are the challenges when working with Sponsors?
I normally choose to have just one overall sponsor but occasionally enlist the support of a number. A key challenge when working with brands is to make sure that their values fit well with the charity you’re promoting. The process of getting sponsorship can take a lot of time but it can make all the difference to the financial success of the fundraising event.
How long does it take you to organise a typical fundraising event?
It depends on the event but generally between six months to a year.
What type of fundraising activities do you hold at the events?
I personally like to offer an auction with money cannot buy items or experiences, such as objects that are specifically designed for this auction or a unique experience or meeting with a well-known person.
Liz with the late Christopher Buxton OBE and HRH Prince Charles at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden at the first fund-raising event she did for Abbeyfield, founded by Christopher.
What are the main ingredients of a great event?
At the party, it is important that you don’t just have the same people each time. Make sure it is a mixed group featuring people from all sorts of different backgrounds.
You have to create an avenue for people to meet new contacts that they find fascinating and so create a party to remember.
So add Sugar & Spice to your invitation list. Also do not neglect your seating plan as it is a powerful tool for shaping new business deals and forging new friendships.
You say that host and guests have a particular role and responsibility at an event, what do you mean by this?
My last book The ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PARTY PLANNING & ETIQUETTE details the duties of both the host and the guests.
However, the most important task of the host is to make certain guests are looked after and introduced to others at the event.
Guests, apart from adding the best of their personality to the event, should circulate and not gravitate towards people they know or hog a particular guest for most of the occasion.
What tips do you have for someone planning and hosting a fundraising event?
Be guided by a professional! Cover every eventuality and most important of all ENJOY YOUR OWN PARTY!