How to Plan a Gala

Nonprofit galas are a great annual fundraising event for every organization, but it can be a lot of work. There are so many things that your organization has to think of in order to pull off a wonderful event. In order to help, I’ve put together a bunch of questions that you will need to consider as you plan your dinner and auction gala.

Decisions to Make

Honestly, there are a lot of decisions you will need to make before you start actively planning a gala. Plus, there are a lot of meetings and decisions you will need to make throughout the planning when things don’t go according to plan.

You might want to consider holding a few bimonthly meetings 6-7 months before your gala to start brainstorming ideas.

Here are a list of topics for discussion in these meetings:

  1. What do we want our gala to be like? Do we want it to be formal and extravagant? Do we want it to appeal to our high ranking donors? Do we want to appeal to our average donors?
  2. What venue would we like our gala to be held at?
  3. What venue options do we have connections to? Does anyone have friends or associates who could get us a donated venue that will match what we would like?
  4. What date would we like to have our gala?
  5. What would we like to do for entertainment? Do we want a speaker? Do we want a performance? Do we want someone from inside of our organization or someone outside of our organization? Does anyone have connections to a performer or speaker who could come?
  6. What do we want the invitations to be? Who can design a few invitation ideas that we can go over and decide on?
  7. How much do we want to charge for a plate?
  8. What will we serve for dinner? Does anyone have connections to a caterer?
  9. Who will be our servers for the night? Do we have volunteers or interns who would be willing to help?
  10. Are we going to hold an auction?
  11. Are we going to do a live auction or a silent auction?
  12. Do we have a techie who could set up online auctioning or how are we going to keep track of the bids?
  13. What kind of items do we want to auction? (the gala that I helped plan ended up with donated trips to Hawaii, a couple of cruises, weekend excursions, art, gift baskets, adventure guides for repelling weekends, dinners, etc. that were ALL DONATED)
  14. What connections do we have to people and businesses around the community?
  15. Let’s create a list of people we can ask for donated auction items.
  16. Let’s create a list of people who might be able to cater our dinner and tables, chairs, cutlery, etc.
  17. What kind of decorations do we want to have?
  18. What kind of place settings do we want to have?
  19. How much are the decorations going to cost/can we have them donated?
  20. Do we want to give anything to our guests at their seats? (One gala I helped with gave each guest a handmade notebook that typically sells through their organization for $32.)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *