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 includes 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.
February 27, 2015
Where to Start if Your Organization is New to Galas
Experts weigh in on the questions nonprofits need to answer up front: Is a gala right for you? Do you need event-planning help? How do you recruit volunteers?
Organize Cost-Effective Special Events
Whether you’re new to fundraising events or a veteran planner, staying within budget while keeping your affair engaging can be a challenge. Whether you’re planning a walkathon, gala, or other creative fundraising event, join us for one-hour session that will help you attract more dollars without spending more.
April 21, 2015
What to Consider Before Holding a Celebrity Fundraising Event
Bringing a star to your event could attract attention and money — but it could also become a disaster without careful planning. Here’s what to think about.
July 16, 2015
After the Ball: How to Evaluate the Success of Your Fundraising Event
After a gala or other event, get your staff together to review how it went and collect feedback and ideas.
June 28, 2016
A Museum Reboots Its Gala, Connects to Its Mission, and Raises $1 Million
With acrobats and cocktail-themed science experiments, Exploratorium aims to make its annual fundraiser a can’t-miss event on San Francisco’s social calendar.
March 02, 2015
“Blue Jeans and Bling” Event Helps Food Bank Connect Supporters With Mission
Lessons learned from a popular gala held in a Baltimore nonprofit’s warehouse lead to new, less formal events.
February 09, 2005
Tips for Creating a Fundraising Gala for the 1st Time
Preparing a successful event can be difficult for small groups that with few staff members or volunteers. These tips from people who run special events can help.
February 25, 2015
How a Change in Format Led a Flagging Gala to 17 Years of Success
Converting a black-tie soiree to an awards event recognizing clients, volunteers, and donors paid off for New York Cares.
March 01, 2015
A Nonprofit New to Galas Finds Its Way—With Help From Man’s Best Friend
The Morris Animal Foundation has seen its dog-friendly event in Knoxville, Tenn., more than double in size in four years.