If you’re thinking of hosting a fundraising gala for your nonprofit or aren’t sure what a fundraising gala even is, we’re here to help. Keep reading to learn more about this successful fundraising option.
What is a fundraising gala? Fundraising galas are typically thought of as sophisticated parties, where guests dress up and enjoy food, socializing and often times dancing. While these events can be large and extravagant, that shouldn’t deter you from organizing a fundraising gala for your nonprofit. To help you plan your next fundraising gala, we’ve put together some helpful tips.
Fundraising Gala Checklist: 8 Tips for Putting on the Best Fundraising Gala
- Set goals: It’s important to begin planning any fundraiser by setting goals. Having a clear fundraiser goal set ahead of your event will help you plan a better fundraiser that’s geared specifically towards those goals. Start by reflecting on your previous fundraising efforts and how you can learn from them based on the needs of your organization. Next you should work with your organization to set a SMART goal to help clarify fundraising needs and focus your efforts. For more help on setting and tracking fundraising goals, check out this article.
- Form an event team: Since a fundraising gala is no small event, you’ll need a team to handle all of the planning and logistics. Distribute tasks amongst team members so their roles and responsibilities are clear from the start. Some examples of roles can be marketing, sponsors, venue management, speakers, etc. By nominating one person as the event manager, they can oversee the other roles and help plan the event as a whole.
- Create a budget and stick to it: The goal of a fundraising gala is to raise money for your event, so you need to make sure that you raise more than you spend. Fundraising galas can get expensive with venue, food and drink, decorations and entertainment. If you’ve hosted a gala in the past, form a new budget based on previous costs you incurred. If you’re starting from scratch, take time to put a table together for all estimated costs and your budget for each category. Track everything as you go!
- Make it themed: Who doesn’t love a themed event? Selecting a theme is your opportunity to get creative and find a theme that your organization and attendees will enjoy. This is an important planning step, as you need to include the theme and dress code in your fundraising gala invitation. Here’s a list of some of the best fundraising gala themes to give you inspiration.
- Leverage partnerships: Building partnerships is a great way to create a successful fundraising gala. When selecting partners, make sure they align with your organization’s mission and values, which can lead to more partnerships down the road. To begin finding partners, you can start by pitching local businesses to support your event and offset costs. Creating sponsorship levels gives options with different benefits for each level chosen. Read this article to help you find gala sponsorships.
- Recruit speakers: One of the most important parts of hosting a fundraising gala is communicating with your attendees about why they should support your cause. Utilize the leaders in your organization, whether it be the founder, president, or someone who was personally impacted by your cause. Having individuals speak at the event helps your audience connect with your organization’s mission and be more inclined to donate during the event. Let them know what your goals are and why their money will make an impact.
- Decide how you will receive donations: Since fundraising is the purpose of your gala, you’ll need to figure out exactly how you will receive donations during the night. This can include setting up donation kiosks, organizing an online auction, encouraging the attendees to text-to-give, or using a mobile donation form. Whatever method you decide to use for your fundraising gala, just make sure it’s user friendly and will be easy for people to use.
- Don’t forget to follow up: Following your event, keep the communication going. If you gathered contact information during the night, send them a thank you message the next day or week. By following up and sharing your fundraising gala earnings, they can take pride in supporting your cause. A simple thank you goes a long way and can encourage future support for upcoming fundraising events.
Whether you’re a first-time fundraising gala host or a seasoned vet, we hope this list for putting on the best fundraising gala was useful in your planning process. Make a checklist with each of these 8 tips and feel free to add more as you go to plan a successful fundraising event for your organization. Happy fundraising!