American Meetings, Inc. An AMI Global Company

Organizing a Fundraising Gala as a Virtual Event

There are several ways nonprofit organizations use to generate funding. From auctions and raffles to “thing”-athons and galas, nonprofits have learned that open wallets come from the right people having an enjoyable time for a cause. Creative ideas that bring awareness to a cause while also giving a great experience to the donor, is a solid way to generate funds.

Live, in-person events are one-way nonprofits have hosted fundraisers for years, but with online donation platforms, online giving and mobile gifting on the rise, it may be time to look into organizing a fundraising gala as a virtual event.

Virtual Events Are Cost Effective

Virtual events have a variety of options that allow for a variety of scenarios such as live webcasting, pre-recorded video, and interactive discussions. Participants can be from all over the world, allowing for a greater reach that what may be possible with a local event.

Virtual Events Build Digital Data

Online registration is available for all meetings, whether in person or not. However, with virtual events, data can be used to track donor demographics, interaction and more. Online donation forms, follow-up emails, and even offline communication is possible based on data participants are asked to submit in order to attend the event – far more information than a website form could gather.

Virtual Events Are Flexible

Recently we have seen the importance of having event flexibility in the face of an emergency. Virtual events are able to shift easier, if needed, live events, while still offering a great experience. Again, creativity is key here, and professional virtual event organizers know the tricks to make the event successful from a logistics and technology stand point.

Technology exists to support auctions, guest panels, interviews with program participants/beneficiaries, and more.

How to Make Your Gala Successful

Rally the troops. Not only do you need staff and volunteers to support the gala efforts, you want to have an existing base of interested donors to market the event to.

Get an idea of your budget for the event and the expected income you can expect. Use a professional event organizer to help build a budget if it’s your first time. You may consider creating committees to manage:

  • Registration
  • Sponsorships/Affiliates
  • Speakers
  • Auction/Raffles
  • Donations
  • Technology/IT Support

Choose a theme. Make your theme fun and attractive so that attendees will be excited to share it. For example, hosting an “Economic Summit for a Disadvantaged Population” will attract a very different crowd than a “Roast of a Celebrity” event. Be sure you understand your demographic and what would get them inspired to attend.

Market early and often. Just because you don’t have as high of an overhead to cover, doesn’t mean that you should market any less. Leverage the same models that you would at a live event to help promote your virtual gala, such as using table sponsors, vendor sponsorships, on and offline advertising and promotions.

Start with current and past donors, and then use demographical information to get the word out to those who would be most interested in the nonprofit’s cause and mission.

Live and virtual events are a specialty of AMI and our associated vendors. To learn more about making your fundraising gala a success, contact us to learn more about your options and make the best choice for your next event.

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