Galas re-dedicate the dedicated and welcome new donors, provide opportunities for exposure, and enhance fundraising. Planning a gala requires one year lead time, dedicated Staff and Board Members, and an Event Planner, on staff or hired, who is creative, flexible, and detail oriented. All must understand and approve of upfront expenses. A dedicated donor base is necessary to realistically support the event. (If further cultivation is needed before launching a gala, plan smaller, less costly events.)
Core Gala Planning Details
- Establish a budget.
- Decide on a date with lead time and no other event interference.
- Choose a venue.
- Choose a theme that fits the organization with community appeal.
- Engage an inspiring spokesperson(s).
- Decide on sponsor and ticket levels.
- Name event, decide on technology, refreshments, entertainment, and décor.
- Block sequence of events from beginning to end of the Gala.
- Get written commitments from Sponsors.
- Decide if incorporating an Auction or Raffle. If so, set up.
- Send interesting invitations.
- Arrange social networking, media marketing, and personal asks.
- Create and print Program Book. Print tickets if needed.
- Recruit volunteers.
- Orchestrate permits (wine/beer), police detail, rentals (furniture, linens, dishware, etc.), flowers, sound and lighting equipment, and entertainment.
- Thank donors.
- Follow up with donors. Appreciate, listen, involve.
Suggested Task Assignments
- Person In Charge (Event Planner or Staff Person) – creates time line, works with Staff and Board to establish task assignments and manages, works at event.
- Board – participates in decision making, makes asks for Sponsorship, Ticket Sales; procures Auction/Raffle gifts, attends event.
- Staff – makes final decisions, communicates with donors, follows through on any agreed upon details, works at event.
Gala production is a “team sport.” The measure of a successful gala is achieving the fundraising goal AND creating a fun, positive atmosphere leading up to the event. Host a gala, and strengthen your team; put the “fun” in fundraising.