Gala fundraisers present an opportunity to create awareness about the cause you support and raise funds. A typical gala fundraiser has a set audience whom you invite as guests for dinner. The guests pay the preset price to attend the dinner. These payments go into making funds for your cause. Gala events usually feature an entertainment program such as concerts either during or after dinner. Gala events provide a favourable social atmosphere for donors to express their philanthropy and meet other like-minded individuals. It requires great vision, good planning and wise spending to organise a gala fundraiser committee.
- Skill level:
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Learn about your community. Research the interests and issues of your community. With such knowledge, you can select a cause that is in the interest of your community, which makes it easier to gain its support. Select your cause. Take into account your community and committee member interests and goals. If you are an all-women team, for instance, you can select a cause that supports women empowerment in your community.
Find a mentor. An ideal mentor would be someone with knowledge and experience acquired from forming fundraising committees or by being involved in fundraising campaigns.
Find people who would be interested in joining your committee. Invite them to become committee members. Assign duties to each member of the team. Tasks range from handling event plans, public relations and donations and sponsors to managing accounts and more.
Find out about laws governing fun-raising committees. Many states require fundraisers to register with the state, explain their fundraising activities, file financial reports and pay a fee that would cover the administrative expenses incurred to monitor the charities (See Reference 4). Visit the charity offices that regulate fundraising laws for your area. Find out the relevant charity office for your state at National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) website (See Resource 1). Visit the IRS website (See Resource 2) for information on tax laws governing fundraisers or consult your accountant. Visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) website (See Resource 3) for more information.
Seek legal guidance.
Build contacts. Prepare a list of your local newspapers, magazines and radio stations. Promote your organisation through press releases, articles and interviews.
Plan your events. Prepare a month-by-month calendar of your events and a guideline to how you are going to organise each of them.
Find event sponsors. Contact local business organisations and philanthropists. Give a PowerPoint presentation of your committee, its cause and planned events. Organise seminars, conferences and speeches to attract sponsors.
Promote your events actively. Distribute invitations and advertise in the local media about your events to involve as many people as possible.
Maintain committee reports of events, donor fund receipts, expenses and profits. Do not forget to thank the donors, sponsors and committee members and volunteers who were responsible to make your event and your committee a success.
Tips and warnings
- Your very first event might not generate the dollars you expect. However; the publicity spreads awareness about your committee. You can plan the succeeding gala event to create greater financial success.
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- SmartRaise: Gala Fundraiser
- Toledo Community Foundation: Gala Fundraisers
- Amazon.com: Gala!: The Special Event Planner for Professionals and Volunteers (Capital Ideas)
- Guidestar: Fundraising What Laws Apply
- AACR: How to Plan a Fundraising Event
- Canadian Cancer Society: Imagine Canada Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code