Nonprofit galas are one of our favorite types of events to host at our banquet hall in Orange County. Lyon Air Museum has had the pleasure of hosting a multitude of fundraisers, and we are always excited to help support a great cause.
We know how difficult it can be to plan a successful nonprofit gala, so we’ve asked some of our favorite event planners to give us their tips for coordinating a successful fundraiser.
Be a Good Partner
It’s no secret that the most important part of fundraising is building relationships. Just like with any relationship, you need to make sure that you’re delivering on your end of the deal.
One event planner we work with had the following to say about relationship building.
“Through building relationships with donors, vendors, and volunteers, I’ve been able to put together some incredible events on a shoestring budget! I always go out of my way to over deliver when it comes to taking care of my sponsors, whether it’s displaying their signage at the event, or featuring them on the charity’s website. I recently worked with a graphic designer who agreed to donate his time to design invitations for an event I was hosting. In return for his services, we put a link to his website on our event page, and I made sure to thank him verbally for doing such a great job when I addressed the attendees on the night of the gala. Two different guests at the gala approached him and inquired about his services for their businesses. As a result he has agreed to design all of our invitations moving forward!”
Communicate a Clear Vision
Whether it’s a video presentation, lecture, or live demonstration, it’s important to clearly communicate to your attendees the mission of your organization, and how donations will impact that goal. While your event should definitely be a celebration, you also need to educate your guests on your organization’s objectives so they know where their donations are going.
Which leads us to our next tip…
Share Your Successes
An event planner in Newport Beach warns about the dangers of focusing too much on the negatives.
“I’ve been a part of some events where the organizers focused their event’s message solely on the desperate need for funding, and the problems that arise from not having enough capital. Your event certainly doesn’t need to be all sunshine and rainbows if your charity deals with strong subject matter, but it’s also important to highlight the successes of your organization. This will give your donors a sense of hope that your organization is effective in its mission, and that their donation will make a difference.”
Determine How You Will Collect Donations
One event organizer we work with at our Orange County event venue stressed that you should always work out how you intend to collect donations far in advance of your event.
“Most people don’t carry cash, and don’t write checks anymore, so I advise my nonprofit clients to collect funds electronically. There’s a lot of options to choose from. Paypal has some easy options for collecting donations via your website, as well as a credit card swipe attachment for cellphones. Additionally, there are multiple “text-to-donate” services that will allow your attendees to text a specific number, and then have their donation added directly to their phone bill. Whatever method you decide on, it’s crucial to test it out and work out the bugs well in advance of your event.”
We hope you’ve found these tips to be useful, and we wish you luck planning your next nonprofit gala!