Tips to be Gala Ready
August 24, 2018
Anyone who knows me, knows I love a good party.
Through my role serving clients at Bond Moroch and my community involvement I get the opportunity to work with a wide variety of organizations on their fundraising events. Along the way, I have picked up some great lessons about making fundraisers resonate with media to engage stakeholders, generate ticket sales, and keep sponsors happy.
Choose a Meaningful Theme
While everyone loves a luau, maybe a pig roast isn’t the best idea for the launch of your organizations new animal rights campaign. Focus on what is unique about what your organization does and how they do it. I serve on the board of an organization called Young Audiences of Louisiana that provides arts education in public schools. Nine years ago we launched a new fundraiser called Dancing for the Arts. Modeled after the hit television show Dancing for the Stars, the fundraiser paired community leaders with dance instructors from Young Audiences’ after school programs to choreograph a routine and perform for a “celebrity” panel of judges. The event not only has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the organization but has allowed us to authentically engage with new audiences by giving them a meaningful experience with the work of the organization.
Think Outside the Box for Media Opportunities
Believe it or not, most of the time TV producers and newspaper editors do not care about the great vacation package you secured for the silent auction. That means you’re going to have to think outside of the box to secure meaningful pre-coverage that can help drive ticket sales and excitement. This year I had the pleasure of serving as the chair of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art’s Magnolia Ball. The midsummer fete features music, food, and other surprises spread throughout the museum until midnight, drawing a serious crowd of young (and young at heart) party seekers. To gin up excitement about this year’s party, we had one of our fellow co-chairs share his burgeoning art collection and gorgeous new house with The Advocate’s Home & Garden section with a nice plug for the event.
Plan Your Photo Opportunities
You’ve got the food and bars lined up, the décor set, and the guest list full! Now it’s time to party. Likely you will want to highlight your event in the society and party pages of the local papers as a way of recognizing the people who put in the hard work to make your party happen and support the good work you do. First, make sure you reach out to the party columns well in advance of your event. I’m talking like, the minute you set your date get it on their calendars and don’t forget to send them a formal paper invitation as well. Taking photos of the right people at the party can feel like wrangling cats. My advice is to thoughtfully plan ahead, but be flexible. Know who must be photographed, and who it would be good to photograph. Make a printed out “facebook” with images, names, titles, and notes. But don’t over plan—you may have had the perfect photo op in mind but can’t find one person. Build in flexibility so you can get your photos done and the photographer out of their and on to the next party they must cover.
Andrew Freeman is an Account Supervisor at Bond Moroch.