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Fundraising Tip: The Special Event is Still Not Dead

Why I still love nonprofit fundraising events.

This post is specifically for those in nonprofit fundraising who are tasked with planning an annual gala or some other type of fundraising event.

With many in our arena of nonprofit fundraising declaring the annual gala dead, I like to write about this every once in a while.

I also happen to be working with a client who is planning a huge (for them) gala coming up in May.

While in the midst of supporting the planning of the event, a lot comes up for me in regard to the best way to plan an event like this while focusing on relationship building and capacity of staff.

How can we plan an event that truly benefits our goal of having strong relationships with people and organizations that want our mission to thrive while honoring the fact that we only have so much human capacity to pull off an event like this?

These are the two big points I constantly consider while working on a special event.

The client event coming up is an annual event, special this year as it’s their 50th Anniversary. Every annual gala they have had has been a wonderful event filled with relationship building and honoring those in the trenches of working to support survivors of domestic violence.

One of the key reasons this event is so successful is that the members of the board of directors play active roles in every part of the gala. There is no aspect of the event that is not fully supported by at least two board members.

One of the best examples I can share with you is that this event had not had a silent auction in years. The gala committee decided to try one again, making sure it didn’t fall on the shoulders of staff. Each board member committed to an item or two, and the auction was a huge success. Now, two years later, it’s an active part of the overall success of the event.

In fact, organizations that have donated items have become allies to the mission.

This is a great reminder to not put all of the work burden, nor the overall accountability of the success of the event, on staff. It’s definitely a community effort, filled with active support from board, volunteers, donors, and executive team members.

Please do not throw a fundraising number at the development team and then check in with them after the event.

If you’re on the board of a nonprofit that is having a gala or some type of annual fundraising event, support it as much as possible. Check in with the development committee and even the head of fundraising to see how you can best help.

It does not have to be a trudge. Your experience does not have to be as negative as those experiences you read about on social media.

Keep in mind that success equals stronger relationships, new community members, and some type of fundraising that benfits your mission without draining the life out of your fundraising team.

Take a risk. Be of service. Support your friends and colleagues. Be kind.

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