Put The Fun in NonProfit Fundraising: The Gala

gala dinner

Image via wikicommons (Graham-Killers)

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about raising funds within an office environment. This go-round, I wanted to explore a fundraising ideas that was a bit more universal and accessible to all non-profits: The Gala. Galas are the kind of event that can be scaled up or down depending on your non-profits budget and needs. They are generally wildly successful if done correctly, and provide a great platform to spread information about a particular cause.

Galas are one of the most popular fundraising events, but they also require the most planning. If your nonprofit is planning on going the gala route for your next “round” of funding, the first step should always be to form a planning committee. This committee should be made up of people with event planning experience and large professional & social networks.  Make sure to give yourself some runway time and start planning at least 9-12 months in advance.

The next thing to consider is the theme or topic of the gala. You can of course make it a general event that raises funds for your overall organization. But, you will create more buzz if you have a theme that coincides with a specific cause your organization supports. The more fun you have with the theme, the more fun your guests may have at the gala.

Remember that the entire point of the gala is to raise funds, so you must be mindful of budget. Determine how much you will need to charge in order to break even. If you’re a non-profit with a generous event budget, it may be worth it go bring on a celebrity or entertainer.  However, be mindful that those individuals may come with additional costs (transportation, lodging, etc.). If your nonprofit is a bit smaller, consider having a local politician or community leader speak at your gala; they usually require less upfront costs and will still draw a crowd. Another thing to keep in mind is how  much you’re planning on spending on location and catering services – and hotel/transportation for guests if applicable.


If funds are tight, a great idea would be to look for businesses to sponsor your event. The rule of thumb is try to keep the number of sponsors to around two, to avoid being overshadowed at your own event.

With these tips in mind, you should have a good foundation to build off of. Remember to have fun with it, and never forget the mission of your event!


For more information on running a great gala, check out these other resources: