How to Host a Successful Charity Cut-A-Thon


Have you considered hosting a charity cut-a-thon, but you weren’t sure how to get started? Or, have you hosted a cut-a-thon and it didn’t produce the results that you wanted? If you answered YES, then this article is for you! Hosting a charity cut-a-thon is a great way to give back to your community, it’s easy to implement, and can be incredibly effective—keep reading to learn the secrets for success!

Why Host a Cut-A-Thon?

As the founder of Be Inspired Salon in Madison, WI, I wanted a way to give back to the community that supports us everyday. A great way to do that, while sharing our talents as hairstylists, is to host a charity cut-a-thon as part of year-round efforts to support a local charity. That’s right—we do even more than an annual cut-a-thon to give back to the community.

Before the beginning of a new year, I ask my team to submit their top three local charities that they want to support for the upcoming year. Then, we create a long list highlighting these great organizations, our team votes, and we narrow down the list to our top three charities. Here is where it gets fun! With the top three choices, we send an email to our clients asking them to vote for their top choice. At the end of the voting period, we announce which charity received the most votes, and that is the charity who we will be supporting for the upcoming year.

In addition to the annual cut-a-thon, we also give donations to our chosen charity throughout the year. Here’s what we do: for every positive review that we receive on Google, we donate $10 on that client’s behalf to our local charity. How awesome is that! Not only is this a great way to give back, but it’s also motivation for customers to leave reviews. This initiative runs year-round and is a great addition to the charity cut-a-thon.

The Logistics

Hopefully, you are convinced of the value in hosting a charity event, but where do you start? First, you need to choose a date. At our salon, we host the charity event in early October when bridal season has settled down. Wintertime can be unpredictable in Wisconsin, so there (usually) isn’t any snow to contend with in October, which makes it easier for people to get to the salon. Additionally, we host our event on a Sunday when the salon isn’t already open. By doing it on a Sunday, we aren’t dipping into normal revenue-producing days. Take stock of your busy times, local market, other promotions, and plan accordingly!

Now that you have your date solidified, you need to choose a time and start promoting the cut-a-thon! We usually host our event for three hours, so even if we go over time, we are under the four hour mark. Usually, we host from 11:00am-2:00pm. Also, you have to get the word out about your event! You can do this by sending an email to your clients, placing handouts at your front desk, and promoting it on social media. Your local charity may even promote it on their site! On our promotional materials, we explain that we do not set up appointments—all cuts are first-come, first-served. Also, we request that everyone arrive with clean, dry hair. If someone doesn’t show up this way, we will still have our assistants or apprentices help, but hopefully this is minimal.

I believe the key to what makes our cut-a-thon so successful is that we require a minimum donation of $35 for a haircut. This is not a suggested amount, it is a minimum required donation. (You should also include this on your promotional materials!) While we would love to take everyone’s donations no matter how big or small, we only have a few hours to make this as successful as possible! The minimum donation helps us maximize our time and our donation. Lastly, the stylists who work at the event do not earn commission on their services—everyone is giving back. The stylists can accept gratuity, or they can choose to donate that as well—this is entirely up to the stylist.    

On the day of your event, most people will show up right away at the beginning. As people start arriving, we add them to our waitlist. Again, all the cuts are first-come, first-served, so our front desk will be busy checking people in and getting them served as quickly as possible. We aim to get each client in and out within 30 minutes. Pro tip: when clients are waiting, ask them if they would like to check out right then. This will save the client time when they’re done, and you know they aren’t going anywhere.

When the cut-a-thon is done, you get to complete the best step which is writing one big check to your local charity! Oh, yeah!

Here is a quick recap of the items that you need to remember to make your cut-a-thon a success: ask your team and clients to vote for their top charity, choose a date and time based on your market, select a minimum donation amount, advertise, and give back!

Do you have any more questions about hosting a cut-a-thon? Or  do you have more tips to share with those of us who are already doing this? Share your thoughts with our community of professionals on our private Facebook group! We can’t wait to connect with you!

Emily Kelly