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What Is A Fundraising Gala? (Plus Tips For Hosting One)

Author: Adie M.
Fundraising Gala

When it comes to raising money for charity, fundraising galas are a classic that will never go out of fashion. They form the basic income toolkit for all nonprofits and can be extremely profitable, among other benefits they can offer your organization. All you need to understand is how to throw a good party for a cause.

In this guide, we’ll explain what a fundraising gala is and what it includes. We will also look at the benefits of hosting galas for nonprofits and share our expert tips for how to make this a successful event. Let’s dive right in! 

What Is A Fundraising Gala?

A fundraising gala is an official event, hosted by charity organizations to gather their community and network to raise money for their cause. 

Often, these high-value and high-profit events take place once a year and are attended by an NPO's most influential and important members, donors, and supporters. 

While these can be opulent events, depending on your donors, you can tailor the feel and atmosphere of your gala to your organization. Regardless, you will want to include the following in your event:

  • Formal or black tie fashion
  • Food and catering
  • Entertainment and networking
  • Activities and auctions
  • Keynote speeches from important network members like volunteers, big donors, beneficiaries of your cause, staff members, etc.
  • Calls for donations
  • Media presentations (i.e.: slide shows from the year’s activities)
  • Event goodie bags

Why Are Galas A Staple Event In The Nonprofit Sphere?

Fundraising galas are the perfect opportunity to reiterate your NPO's message and connect with your community. You can use them to boost your cause and increase awareness. It is an ideal chance to educate attendees about the work you do and why you do it. 

Show them the value of your nonprofit in the community by highlighting your mission, past work, recent projects, and more. Nurture an emotional connection to this work by also including stories from people who have benefited from your NPO’s efforts.

By focusing on these elements, you can remind existing supporters why you need them. You can also draw in those who may be on the fence or just came for fun. 

You get to build new connections and cement old relationships. Your community can also put a face to the team behind your cause.

Spotlighting your cause and impact can also be a great way to boost donations. The gala becomes a practical way to show people where their donations go and encourage them to donate more. Increasing revenue is the primary aim of the fundraising gala and you can include activities, raffles, auctions, wine pulls, and other fundraising ideas to help achieve it.

These are just some of the basic reasons why nonprofits love a great gala. Let’s take a look at how you can make yours successful.

people talking at fundraising event

How To Host A Successful Gala: 6 Top Tips

1. Set A Fundraising Goal

Before jumping into any gala planning tasks, you should set a goal first. 

How much revenue do you want to make? You can determine this by thinking about what you have to spend the money on. 

Knowing your goal will guide the scale of your gala, the number and level of donors you should target, methods to use, etc.

2. Establish Your Budget

With your goal in mind, you can establish your budget. Your preliminary budget should take into account the cost of each line item and how much you have available to spend as an organization. 

Your budget should include:

  • Venue
  • Ticketing software
  • Food and catering
  • Entertainment
  • Prizes for auctions and other activities
  • Media content creation
  • Decor
  • Goodie bags
  • Marketing

While you may receive sponsorship and event donations along the way for some items, you shouldn’t count your eggs before they hatch. Rather budget based on what you can afford and the resources you have internally.

3. Collaborate With Partners

With your budget in mind, you can now seek aid from other businesses, organizations, and partners. You don’t have to do everything on your own and your network can help offload the weight. 

Getting a corporate partner or sponsor can, for example, cover a line item like food or donate capital. You can also approach local businesses to donate their products for the goodie bag or supply you with a venue for the night. In exchange, list your sponsors on all your event marketing and goodie pack branding and give them a chance to speak on the night.

Reach out to individuals in your network too! They may know someone who knows someone. Or they may have the skills you need like decorating skills, goodie packaging, or more. Let them offer you a helping hand.

4. Get Creative With Fundraising Activities

Entertainment is an important part of the gala event – so that people don’t get bored but also for fundraising. 

You can include the following to give attendees something to do but also raise funds:

  • Raffles
  • A merch gift shop
  • Donation QR codes for virtual donation
  • Text-to-donate appeals
  • Silent auctions
  • Themed games like casino nights
  • Wine pull

You can decide between having some activities online and others in person. A hybrid fundraising gala can bring an edge to the night as people bid or buy raffle tickets secretly on their phones. Auction software can help you track bids in real-time and share live-streams to bolster participation.

5. Use Mixed Media Presentations

Your presentations for the night also fall under entertainment. While speeches are important, you should get creative with how you share information. 

Shoot a mini-documentary, share some of your campaign content, live-stream auction bids, get videos of beneficiary stories, show a ‘meet the team’ video, and more. There are many ways to leverage video as a compelling storytelling tool that captures your audience.

6. Promote Creatively

Lastly, if you want people to attend your gala, you need to amp up your fundraiser marketing. Promote your event across all your digital platforms, including email, and your website. You can also host a social media contest as an incentive for people to attend the event, announcing the winner at the gala.

Encourage your network to share with the communities by making easy-to-share, gala-specific content like posters, short clips, memes, and GIFs. Reach out to your networks and invite important donors and collaborators to attend with a plus one. 

Fancy fundraising gala event

The Bottom Line

Planning a fundraising gala can be a big undertaking. Use this guide to help you manage the main aspects of this classic event and tailor it to your nonprofit.  Ready…steady…GALA!