For many nonprofits the annual gala is the biggest fundraiser of the year. I have been to many gala’s and each one seems a remake of the last, but every now and then one stands out from the crowd. What makes some gala’s worth more than others? And what makes some more memorable than others? The difference is always in the details, and some of those details are fairly easy to implement.
Here are a few ideas for creating a stand out event, that are inexpensive and effective:
1. Show Me the Way– There is nothing more frustrating than paying a lot of money for a ticket to an event and then not being able to find your seat. Have volunteers greet guests and show them to their table. It is an easy way to start the evening off right. During the trip to the table volunteers can share why you are there, what you are planning to do with the funds raised, and how successful you have been with prior years monies.
2. Breeze On By– Create a simple check-in and check out process for your silent auction. Insure that you have enough volunteers to man both stations. You certainly don’t want guests waiting in a long line to check out during the best part of the event or right before they leave the event. Pre-register guest so that they can be charged while they are at the event without having to wait in line. Then have them simply pick up any winnings on the way out.
3. Make It Fun– Do something fun and memorable. Photo booths are popular right now and they are a great example of adding fun to an event.
4. Surprise and Delight– I like to make sure that each event I do has an element of surprise. For example, you could purchase keepsakes for each guest, or have a stash of extra drink tickets to pass out during the event (of course, you planned it all along, but the guests don’t know that.) Maybe a guest appearance by a local celebrity. FOMO is a very contagious disease. (FOMO-Fear of Missing Out)
5. Follow-up– I once had the donor of an auction item ask me for a receipt when I picked up the item. Of course, I happily gave it, but I mentioned that after the event everyone would be mailed a receipt. She kindly replied that everyone told her that, but almost no one ever delivered them. Be sure and send hand-written thank-you notes and receipts.
Take-away: What are you doing to make your gala an A+ event?
Galas are very time intensive events, if your organization is making an investment in hosting one, make sure you make it worth it.