Event Director Interview Series: Behind the Scenes at ‘The World’s Largest Open House’

By Rebecca Gardner

Australia has a long history of charitable giving, since its first charity formed back in 1813, the sector has shown no signs of slowing down - in fact Australia gained over 200 new charities every single month in 2015. So it comes as no surprise to learn from an Event Manager that the charity events industry is equally as crowded.

So if you’re planning a charity event, how do you make sure you sell enough tickets online? How do you get suppliers involved and what are the secrets to running a successful volunteer team?


We asked long-term event manager behind ‘The World’s Largest Open House’ for NSW Kids In Need, Sally Lorraine, to share her insights.

Sally Lorraine Event Director The World’s Largest Open House: Event Manager, Sally Lorraine

Hosted on behalf of ‘NSW Kids in Need, a foundation that supports six children’s charities, the World’s Largest Open House is a unique charity event that sees 55 family friendly venues in NSW open up their doors to over 10,000 members of the public for one day only. The unique and often high security venues, which take part, include a Navy Ship, RAAF Richmond Base and Fire Stations.


“It all starts with the concept”

Sally explains, “having a strong concept for your charity event is key”, and “knowing exactly what your event is and who your target market is really helps you to open doors”. Sally holds the strong core concept behind ‘The World’s Largest Open House’, responsible for being able to secure sponsors, sell tickets online before the event, attract volun

teers, secure venues and gain external support.

One of the main selling points to the venues we work with is that the concept and target market for the event is such a strong fit with what they are about – it’s about making sure everything is well matched before you approach people.

RAAF Base - NSW Kids in Need Foundation


“It’s about working out the must haves, and the nice to haves”

All public dollars raised from the event through online ticket sales and collections, go towards the charities, while corporate sponsors cover the costs. “It’s important to keep costs as low as possible, you really don’t want to be spending money when it could be going to the charities.” As Sally reminds us, the charity space is cluttered and it comes back to the concept, “I start by telling people you want to work with about the concept of the event, and the charities involved.”

Sally says that when the budget is tight it’s about “being selective, and figuring out what are your needs and what are your nice to haves”, focus your time and budget on the things your event really needs.


“Promote the event with high quality content”

We asked Sally how she works with the event PR team to promote the event. “We have some fantastic media partners”, she goes on to reel off an impressive list of household names like Mark Ferguson from Seven News, Macquarie Radio and The Sunday Telegraph, to name a few.

In addition, Sally helps run and coordinate social media channels for the event. “In the lead up to the event we post about twice a day, for us it’s about focusing on sharing really high quality content with our audience, not just quantity.” Sally maintains that it’s about having a real range of topics, “we have interest pieces on ‘how to plan for a family day out’, and awareness posts with charity stories, to small messages from the sponsors and partners.


“Communication with your volunteers is key”

With over 55 venues and 10,000 visitors over the four hour time slot, you won’t be surprised to find out that the event has over 200 volunteers to help ensure things run smoothly. So does Sally have any tips for making sure everyone is up to date with what’s going on?

Alongside a detailed run sheet, FAQ’s and information on their roles and responsibilities, every volunteer is sent a link to a training video, recorded by Sally herself. “I recorded a four minute video of myself, it covers all the things volunteers need to know and covers all the FAQ’s we normally get asked, it’s much better than having to send 10 emails back and forth”. However, Sally maintains that nothing beats face-to-face training and hopes to hold sessions with volunteers next year.

“It’s worked really well and they are able to take the event and run with it – I’m the only event manager on this and the logistics are eased off me.”


So what’s next?

Sally’s already set to work planning next years Open House event and has plans to make it even bigger and better – with more family friendly venues lined up – apart from that her lips are sealed…


If you’re interested in learning more about the next World’s Largest Open House event, or want to keep up to date with who’s selling ticketing online for other upcoming charity events, visit our website.

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