So your sponsors are rolling in and your seats are getting filled. Your decor, menu and venue are finalized and you’re working hard to get the little details in check. All that’s really left is the program and speaking notes, and your team is ready to rock n’ roll.
When putting together your gala program, it’s important to find ways to engage with your sponsors and guests to enhance their experience at your event. Your fundraiser is a golden opportunity to sell your non-profit organization and the importance of their support and your hard work. Your fundraiser is also a reflection of your organization and your cause, and if they have a valuable and positive experience at your event, the more likely they’ll associate valuable and positive thoughts to your non-profit.
Here are five ways to step up your gala game, and impress your sponsors and guests:
1. First Impression
With any event you should aim to impress your guests by surpassing their expectations right when they arrive. If your venue is in a hotel with several ballrooms, have a few of your volunteers in the lobby welcoming your guests and directing them to the correct ballroom. In addition, a cocktail hour is a great opportunity to set the vibe for your entire evening. Promote a signature drink and don’t forget to dress up your cocktail tables and bar. Go the extra mile and hire an hour of entertainment that goes hand-in-hand with your event theme.
2. Use Social Media
Social media is a great tool to get people talking, not only about your event, but also about your cause. Be sure to preplan an event #hashtag on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram, and share it with your guests on the program. Have your Master of Ceremonies encourage your guests to take photos of the event and to share their photos and experience online. Not only will they be able to contribute to the conversation, but it will also have them spreading the word about your event and your cause to their family and friends!
3. Get your Sponsors Involved
Without your sponsors your fundraising gala wouldn’t be possible. When there’s an opportunity to get the crowd involved, take it! Go beyond the free seats, logo placement and verbal shout out during the program, and find a unique way to have them be a part of the event. Invite them on-stage and have them present an award or have them announce the auction winners. If you want to engage them further, have a representative from each sponsor table participate in a fun game during dinner, which will also double as program entertainment.
Photo credit: Robert Lowdon Photography
4. Call for Action Auction
Not everyone in the crowd is a live auction or even silent auction person, but it doesn’t mean they’re not interested to give to your charity. Call for Action Auction is a fundraising technique you can use at your gala that will allow for your guests not interested in the live or silent auctions to make a donation they’re comfortable with. This can be done by exchanging a fixed donation (e.g. $25, $50 or $100) with a token of support. For example, our client, Special Olympics Manitoba, sold bronze, silver and gold medals to their gala guests for less than $100. All proceeds from the sales were considered donation to help support Special Olympics.
5. Say Thank You
When your event is said and done, don’t forget to take the time and personally thank all of your sponsors, volunteers and guests. Ensuring all of your supporters feel valued and appreciated is important to maintaining and building those key relationships. When next year comes along, you’ll feel more equipped and confident when approaching them again.
To find out more about how to impress your sponsors at your gala, or to discuss an upcoming event you are planning, connect with Events by Emma at email@example.com, or call 204-779-8812.