Nonprofit: How to shake up your next gala
There are an estimated 170,000 nonprofit organizations operating in Canada, each one trying to be heard above the rest to increase awareness, raise funds and recruit support.So, how can your nonprofit shake things up to make its next gala one your community members will want to attend now and for years to come? This newsletter provides some simple tips on adding spice to your next dinner gala that will leave your supporters hungry for more.

  • Avoid excessive tributes and speeches: Sure, dinners and galas present the perfect opportunity to honour those that make it all possible, but oftentimes, speeches and sponsor honours get long-winded and, well … boring. Consider showing a short, two-minute video that can be played during the event to honour sponsors, discuss your mission and let your guests know how they can help. And, if you keep your video broad in its focus, you can use it for other purposes, such as for volunteer recruitment and overall awareness. Post the video on your website and direct people to the URL with an imprinted awareness-ribbon pen or clip that can be handed out at the event.
  • Rethink your dinner: Many galas centre around the traditional sit-down dinner and fundraising auction afterward. TCG Events planner Cassie Brown cautions that this event style inhibits socialization and networking opportunities. She encourages nonprofits to rethink the dinner set-up and use food and drink stations to promote mobility and mingling. Think about a build-your-own stir-fry or pasta station. Or, try an ice cream sundae bar for dessert. Throw in a colour-changing spoon for added fun. The point is to keep people up and moving.
  • Revolutionize your auction: Instead of clipboards and line-item bids, transform your auction with mobile bidding. An online auction platform, such as BiddingForGood®, can enhance the auction experience and bring in funds before, during and after your event. Just make sure you provide easy-to-follow instructions for those unfamiliar with the technology, and have a few volunteers on staff who can assist prospective bidders. A cell phone stand placed at each spot can be the ideal giveaway to promote mobile bidding while offering auction updates at a glance.
  • Give thanks:  Most of us remember to thank guests for their attendance and support at the event, but sending a thank-you after the fact can go a long way toward keeping your organization and its mission on people’s minds. A handwritten thank-you note can be a thoughtful way to show your appreciation and keep people thinking about your revamped, spiced-up event. Throw in a seeded awareness-ribbon packet to make an added impression.

Remember, planning the perfect event that guests will marvel at can be simple if you just shake things up a bit. Try one or all of these simple tips and see if it makes a difference at your next gala.

Charities & Nonprofit Organizations.” Imagine Canada. Web. Retrieved 24 Feb. 2014.

Korkki, Phyllis. “Rethinking the Dinner Gala.” Nytimes.com. New York Times, 7 Nov. 2013. Web. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2014.

Morton, Gary. “Mobile Bids Changing Auctions.” The NonProfit Times. N.p., n.d. Web. June 15, 2012. Retrieved 17 Feb. 2014.

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