Hosting a successful charity gala is all about getting the details right. You need to think carefully about the minor elements that come together to make the night a special one that guests will enjoy. It is a moment of celebration after all, and it should boost donors’ excitement and keep them engaged.
The theme you choose for your charity gala is an essential part of making this a night to remember. It impacts what venue you choose, your catering choices, decor, activities, and much more. It can also be the make-or-break factor for people thinking about attending your gala.
Everybody loves a well-considered theme and, if you pull it off, it can be just the thing you need to increase attendance and donations.
Below, we’ll share a list of well-loved charity gala themes for you to pick from.
You can never go wrong with a classic black-tie formal event. It’s an elegant yet flexible choice for charity gala events.
With this theme, you can add a color dress code making it a black tie event with “a splash of red” or “a twinkle of glitter.” Alternatively, leave the theme open-ended and allow people to arrive in the formal wear they wish.
The most important thing is that it is a night for sophistication which you should reflect in your decor, food, and entertainment choices. Live auctions (using effective auction software) pair quite well with this theme as a donation method.
A touch of secrecy, drama, and mystery is just the kind of fun that guests will enjoy with a masquerade theme. It is the perfect pairing with a formal wear night and brings grandness and opulence to your event.
You can transform any space into a moody affair with decor in rich dark colors like black, royal blue, and deep purple, with a touch of glitter or gold.
The mystery of a masquerade ball can also pair well with some classic gala donation activities like a silent auction with exciting items or a raffle.
Who doesn’t love a fun night at the casino? Like a masquerade, it adds mystery and drama to your gala. It also brings a sense of adventure and offers many opportunities to achieve the goal of the event – raising funds.
Go all in with casino decor, gaming tables, and props. If you have the budget, you can even add a few slot machines and other equipment but it’s not a necessity. Raffles and card games can also be wonderful activities for a casino night.
Another theme that fits right into the world of glamor and drama is a Hollywood red-carpet-inspired gala. Give your guests a chance to live their moment in the spotlight and on the red carpet.
Treat them like celebrities for the night by spending on a red carpet, having Hollywood props like life-size award statues, and offering them bubbly. Hire a photographer or two (bring out the paparazzi!) to take pictures on the carpet and shoot clips of the night. This is a glitzy black-tie event with a twist!
Nature is a wonderful place to look when brainstorming themes for your charity organization’s fundraising gala. It is abundant in its creativity so you will never run out of sources of inspiration.
For one, you could host a seasonal-themed event, playing into the qualities of that season. Icy white decor and warm drinks for a winter night. Toasty pumpkin and cinnamon treats and drinks for the fall. The list goes on and on.
Other nature-inspired theme ideas include drawing from the elements (i.e.: fire & ice), celebrating flowers or an enchanted garden, choosing a natural element (i.e.: a marine or underwater theme), and more.
The lovely thing about this theme is that you can tailor it to the time of year. For example, you can host your enchanted garden gala in an actual garden in the springtime.
Leveraging annual holidays is another time-specific way to approach choosing a theme. This is a great way to ride on the excitement that people already have around holidays and host a communal space for celebration.
For example, a Christmas Winter gala could be a great way to go. Or how about a Fourth Of July event?
You can also choose a holiday that speaks closely to your cause.
Go back in time with an era-themed gala. Consider time periods with unique dress styles for which people can go all out. You can then use the decor style of that time to amp up your venue.
Here are some great era throwback ideas you can choose from:
Moving in the opposite temporal direction could bring you to a sci-fi-powered “Into The Future” theme. Ask people to imagine themselves maybe 20 years from now. They can dress in cool metallics, edgy accessories, and techy outfits.
For your decor, you can also use your creativity by crafting a space that shows your organization’s imagination of the future. Think out of the box (flying cars, gadgets, cool lights, the works) and be smart with how you use technology to engage attendees.
Pick a location and build your charity gala’s style, activities, and more around it. Use the event to take your guests on a trip across the country or even the world.
By carefully selecting your food, venue, decor, music, and entertainment, you could transport gala attendees anywhere. For example, design a menu with French cuisine and pastries. Score your night with the melodies of Edith Piaf. And decorate your tables like a cute but classy French bistro and we’re in Paris!
Other location-specific theme ideas include:
As you can see, there are so many theme options to choose from. The best theme for you will depend on your budget, resources, and other factors.
You also want to choose a theme that supports and isn’t against your cause and company values. Keep these in mind to host a charity gala for the books.