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How to Plan and Put On a Fundraising Gala

As long ago as the American Civil War, people enjoyed dressing up in formal wear for an evening of dining and dancing in the name of philanthropy. No matter the cause, the classic fundraising gala has changed little in the past 150 years.

Galas are evening events, formal occasions that typically include a large guest list, a multi-course sit-down dinner, and entertainment. One of the few changes to the formula: In the past decade, “formal dress” has expanded from black-tie-only to include business wear as acceptable attire for many events.

Organizing such elaborate events requires significant effort and expense. Yet experts say that charities that plan carefully can reap substantial benefits from hosting their own gala.

Raising significant amounts of money — from sponsorships, ticket sales, and in-event revenue-generating activities such as auctions — is one obvious benefit. Harder to measure but equally important is the opportunity to deepen your organization’s relationships with supporters through crucial in-person contact.

Below are links to resources from The Chronicle that will help you put on a successful fundraising event.