Your annual gala is one of the best opportunities your organization has to share stories that detail your mission, your goals, and your recent successes. It’s also a time to thank and acknowledge supporters and continue to build your community. Do you really want to use two or more hours of your guests’ time selling them goods and services that tell them nothing about who you are? Do guests really need or want one more “Night on the Town?” We don’t think so! We know that selling random goods is not the best way to build a sustainable community that will grow your organization.
Imagine if guests entered your gala and the first thing they encountered, after a seamless check-in process, was a festive environment with information booths scattered around the room. Each booth would be stocked with yummy food & beverage and would be staffed with knowledgeable ambassadors telling stories about your organization’s recent successes and goals. No one is asking guests for money! Rather, attendees are given the opportunity to ask questions, learn more about who you are, and have fun. Below is a possible scenario detailing your guests’ evening at your greatest gala ever.
Greatest Gala Ever 2018
6pm: Doors OPEN. Your guest has a seamless check-in and picks up a beverage en route to the main lobby
6:05pm: Guest enters main lobby. Great music is playing, entertainers are roaming, fun, interactive information booths draw their attention
6:06pm: Guest steps up to first booth and plays an interactive game with a booth ambassador. Guest learns about your organization’s latest and greatest success, grabs a yummy appetizer, and chats with an old friend
7:00pm: Dinner Bell Rings. Guest has learned a lot about your org, has greeted friends, met the new board president, and is ready for dinner
7:10pm: Guest is Welcomed. Your board president or executive director welcomes and thanks the group and then your guests have dinner with their friends uninterrupted for thirty minutes—imagine that!
7:40pm: The ASK. Amazing well-scripted speaker takes the podium and “wows” the crowd. Perhaps there are two speakers and a well-produced two-minute video. Keep it short, on message, and compelling
7:55pm: Fund-A-Need. Guests are relaxed, know much more about your organization, and donate generously during the raise-the-paddle part of your program
8:05pm: Thank guests, serve dessert, cue the dance band!
For the remainder of the evening the board and staff are greeting and thanking every guest for their support
11:30pm: Last guest has left, via LYFT (because you remembered to get and advertise the discount code)
When designing a Well Done event, the majority of your efforts should go towards building a strong program that focuses on sharing your organization’s stories and successes with attendees. This is best accomplished by providing detailed scripting for all speakers and creating a well-choreographed run-of-show. You and your team need to determine the key messaging to be shared before, during, and after the event. Events that guests want to return to annually have a strong, clear, and fun program. Don’t waste your time and don’t waste your guest’s time. Get rid of the stuff and tell your story.