No one plans a fundraising gala with the purpose of walking away empty handed. Without the right mixture of entertainment, asking and entertaining, even the most well-intentioned affair can fall short of fundraising goals. As a business or non-profit hosting a fundraiser, expect your fundraising gala to be an investment—an investment that raises funds for your cause if you follow these fundraising tips:
- Don’t be shy. Your guests are attending a fundraiser. They expect to be asked, and you won’t raise funds unless you do. But you can’t push too hard for donations either. It’s your job to find the right combination of asking and entertaining that make the gala successful.
- Coordinate a silent auction. Leverage your professional and personal connections, and the connections of board members and volunteers, to solicit items and gift certificates for silent auction packages for your guests. Make sure your packages are appealing visually even if you don’t have all the items to display, and that the silent auction tables are in a prominent location for the guests to find. Have your emcee or entertainers make announcements about the silent auction.
- Tie your gala entertainment into your fundraiser. Use your emcee or entertainer to make announcements about your auction or other fundraisers. If you have a unique fundraiser that will take place on the stage, have your emcee or entertainer officiate the fundraiser.
- Show your guests the impact they can have. Use displays, slideshows and videos to show what their dollars support. You can also have a beneficiary of your services describe their experience on stage, or tape and edit their testimonial into a video.
Guests who are enjoying themselves tend to give more. Choose a theme appropriate for the evening, and get plenty of entertainers to make the night entertaining and memorable. Don’t feel confined to booking one entertainer or that you have to locate the talent yourself. Contact a talent agent for entertainment recommendations and booking. They have a diverse group of entertainers to choose from, years of experience to draw on and the expertise to make your fundraiser a success.
Whether you are a non-profit coordinating a fundraiser cocktail night or a business hosting a fundraising gala for your local charity, the key to a successful night is entertainment. From the moment your guests enter through the reception doors until the end of the program, fundraiser galas are most successful when the guests are entertained throughout the evening. From the décor to the program, your goal as the fundraising gala planner is to create an over-the-top, enjoyable and entertaining evening that compels your guests to contribute to your worthy cause. You can start that experience with a theme that guides your party planning, and gives your guests the entertainment you strive for:
Retro/vintage party. Plan a 80’s evening with uplighting and celebrities circulating throughout your venue from the time period. For the main entertainment, have the entertainers do a skit or hire a band to sing 80’s hits. Want to get even more retro? Bust out the poodle skirts and ice cream sodas for a rockin’ good night. Hire a band to play the classics while your guests circulate with celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and James Dean.
Mardi Gras. Invite your guests to a costume party complete with entertainers that set the stage for a fun evening. Treat them to a night of jazz music and outlandish décor that makes your guests feel like they are in the midst of a huge party.
Casino night. Set up a roulette wheel and bring on the Vegas entertainers. From showgirls to dealers, make your evening a memorable night where everyone is willing to put their money down for a good cause. Complete the night with dice décor, poker chips and playing cards.
Hollywood red carpet. The experience starts at the door with this fundraiser theme. Have your guests walk the red carpet through the flash of the paparazzi cameras and enjoy the benefits of being a star, if only for an evening. Hire “celebrities” like Marilyn Monroe, Britney Spears and Elvis to circulate with the crowd.
Take your fundraising gala theme to the next level with multiple entertainers throughout your venue. You don’t have to locate those entertainers on your own. Contact a local, experienced booking agent who can recommend entertainers appropriate for your event and theme, and can coordinate the entertainers and schedule.