There are many benefits for your company in hosting a gala. You get to toast to a fantastic organization, support a great cause, and build your brand all in one night. With galas steering away from being just the traditional sit down dinner, they are a grand and exciting way to accomplish multiple goals that you can have for your company. Planning a large scale event, like a gala, is a lot of hard work though. You have to keep budgeting, marketing, and your target audience in mind when planning it. While it is important to hire an event planner to help you through the process, we have some tips below to keep in mind when planning a gala.
The benefits that your company will gain from your gala depends on the goals and objectives you have. Generally speaking, a gala consist of entertainment and a dinner. It is also standard to give out a few awards and you can even include dancing or an auction, if you so choose. It is also important to choose a theme early on in the event planning process. This provides guidance and ensures that the gala will look cohesive.
A fundraising gala is an excellent way for nonprofit organizations to raise money and awareness of their organization. How much money is raised depends entirely on how efficiently the gala is planned. It is common for an organization to break even or lose money on a gala if it is not planned well. You want the event to be fun, unique, and look beautiful, but you also have to be careful that you do not spend too much on the decorations and entertainment. Make sure you have a specific amount that you want to fund-raise in mind before you begin planning the event, because the cost of the event will have to be subtracted from the amount fund-raised at the gala.
On top of being able to fund-raise a lot of money, galas also raise awareness about your organization. They are the perfect opportunity for networking and creating lasting relationships with new and old guests. A great way to increase awareness is to require that people purchase two tickets instead of one so that they can bring someone who is unfamiliar with your organization to the gala. You can make a lasting impression on your attendees too, if that night is unique and you follow-up with them a day or two later.
A fun and exciting gala also raises company morale. It gives people the opportunity to get dressed up and have delicious food and drinks in a beautiful venue, which does not happen every day! A gala feels like a gift to employees and makes them feel like they matter. When awards are given out, receivers feel like they have finally gotten the recognition that they deserve. And when the night is over, it gives them something to look forward to next year.
Due to generational differences though, galas have changed a lot in recent years from just being the typical dinner gala. In order to have a successful gala, it is imperative to understand what different generations want most from an event. Baby Boomers respond best to traditional marketing, so the standard dinner gala works well for them. Millennial’s are more experiential than Baby Boomers though, and want to attend a gala that is different and unique. One way to do this is by having a nontraditional room set up, where rather than having a sit down dinner, you have attendees walk around to different food and drink stations and mingle before the main presentation. Sometimes, it is even best to just hold an entirely different event altogether that focuses on an activity rather than a meal.
Millennial’s are also willing to spend more money on a product that aligns with their ethics and morals, so it stands to reason that they will only donate to your cause if they strongly agree with it. It is important to highlight how your cause contributes to social and environmental issues in order to sway your millennial guests. In general, it is important to know your target audience well so that you can figure out what kind of event will work best for your attendees.
Besides planning your gala, the most important part is getting people to attend your event. Make all promotional materials for your event look professional and have them accurately reflect the theme of your gala. Seeing a cheap or homemade looking design can deter people from supporting your event. Offering an early bird special price on your tickets can incentivize people to buy tickets too. It gives them a limited time frame so guests are more likely to buy tickets early. It also encourages word of mouth about your event since they will push their friends to buy tickets early. Also, do not underestimate the power of social media. Make sure to post to all of your social media accounts, and have all of your vendors post to theirs, and make a Facebook event page that you post semi-regular updates too. Be sure to include the link to purchase tickets on any social media pages. Social media can help you keep guests informed, and frequently remind them that the event is coming up.
Planning a gala is hard work, and there are a lot of pitfalls that you can fall into while planning the event. If done right though, it pays off in the end. Hire Willie Ripple Events to plan your next gala to ensure that the event runs smoothly. We are professional, we believe in customer satisfaction, and we deliver. Finally, keep in mind that there is a wide gab between a bargain event planner and us.
Written by Willie Ripple, CSEP and Savannah Nichols