What is a Gala Event?
Fundraising galas are a great way for nonprofits to raise funds, connect with donors, and increase fundraising. A gala event is typically a sophisticated party that frees donors from the usual routine and brings excitement to the nonprofit. This includes live entertainment, speakers, dinners, refreshments, and more.
That said, you definitely want to show them a memorable evening, so a through gala planning is extremely important to the success of your event. In this blog we will cover some best practices and also include a checklist to help you plan your gala.
Funding, Budget & Sponsorship
When planning a gala event, it is important to consider how your nonprofit will fund the event. You should also think about your fundraising goal and how much money you need to cover the cost of the event. Keep in mind that the objective of a gala is to raise money, not just break even. In addition, you should decide what type of ticket packages you will offer. Use your existing donor data to determine how many attendees you are likely to have and what topics are most important to them. This information will give you the foundation for the rest of your planning.
Create a well-written, compelling sponsor letter to secure donations and highlight sponsorship during the event. Who has already sponsored you, and are they likely to continue to back your cause? Leverage any existing connections you have at this stage to find new sponsors. Many of these individuals would want to fund well-run gala events because it helps their organizations too. In order to ensure that you meet your fundraising target, sponsorship is an essential component of gala event planning.
Date, Location & Attendees
Choosing attendees for your event is an important task. You want to make sure that you invite previous clients that have benefited from your services. These clients will mix and mingle with your donors, creating a positive impression. A well-balanced attendee list should include previous donors, new donors, clients, and sponsors. Keep existing relationships and potential new relationships in mind as you design your seating chart. Use table captains who have strong relationships with individuals to help place people at appropriate tables.
The most important thing to consider when planning an event is the number of attendees. Once you have determined the number of people who will be attending, you need to choose a venue that is the appropriate size and location. The goal is to have a space that is large enough for everyone to socialize comfortably and enjoy the entertainment. When selecting a date for the event, be sure to take into account any weather conditions that may occur. Parking availability should also be considered. Additionally, keep in mind any dietary restrictions when planning the menu and speaking to caterers. Choosing entertainment and catering takes careful consideration, as this will determine the overall engagement level of the attendees. You may also want to set aside a portion of the event to raise awareness for your nonprofit and its goals for the coming year. This could be done with a short video or presentation highlighting your nonprofit's successes from the past year.
Gala Team Members
As you start to plan for the gala, it is important to consider who will be on the event team. This team plays a vital role in ensuring that the night runs smoothly and is enjoyable for all attendees. When putting together the event team, be sure to choose individuals with experience in planning galas, as well as those with connections to local catering companies and entertainment options. Utilizing a volunteer survey can help you identify potential team members and gauge their availability, experience, and interest. Keep in mind how many staff members you would like to have on hand, and choose individuals who are outgoing and personable to interact with donors and guests.
Marketing & Social Media
Email marketing can be a very effective tool when used correctly. Timing, content and branding are all important considerations when planning your marketing strategy. Your goal should be to attract potential donors and increase registrations and donations. Automated email campaigns can save you time and ensure that email reminders are received. Create a buzz on social media with creative content, live broadcasts and designated hashtags. Make it easy for potential donors to donate on social media. When registering for an event, make sure that technology is easy to use so that potential donors are not discouraged from giving to your cause.
During & Post Gala
Ensure a smooth and efficient check-in and donation process for your donors by providing multiple computers and/or tablets to use on the day of the event. By having a rehearsal a week in advance with your gala team, you can confirm that everyone understands their responsibilities and test out technology beforehand. This will avoid any last minute surprises or issues on the day of the event. Having a well-organized and streamlined check-in process will make a great impression on your donors.
Don't forget to show your appreciation to everyone who came to your event! A thank you campaign is the perfect way to do this. You can use this opportunity to ask for any final donations and mention how far you are from your goal, as well as highlighting any issues you had during the event and how they could have been avoided. An online photo-sharing platform is a great way to upload and share gala photos with everyone. And finally, remember to have fun - it was a party.
Planning a gala event can be both exciting and daunting. These are the main areas to concentrate on when preparing your gala event, but a thorough checklist is always useful to make sure your planning is on track. We have created one for you already, please click here to download.
LiveImpact has incorporated these planning steps in an easy-to-use but all-powerful Events app. Learn how LiveImpact makes Event Management a breeze for you — be it an Annual Gala, a Golf Tournament, a 5k Run or any other event format.