Virtual Galas: Sweeping the Nonprofit World

Virtual Gala happeneing on multiple devices with the text, "Virtual Galas: Sweeping the Nonpforit World"

Time To Strategize

Organizations are seriously considering cancelling or postponing upcoming events. The problem is that a lot of organizations cannot afford to do this. There are other ways to have an event still take place. Leveraging technology is always a fun prospective. The terms “virtual gala” and “live-stream fundraising” are creating a lot of interest around the nonprofit world, and for good reason. Virtual events are a perfect technological solution to the current fluid public health situation. This is an especially good time to work on bringing in younger donors. They are more enticed by technological ways to get around stay-at-home orders.

You Might Be More Ready Than You Think

If you are already using auction software, which you definitely should be, most likely you have access to cloud-based bidding. This means that attendees will be feeling like there is no difference between virtual and in-person since bidding will be no different.

Virtual Can Be Memorable

Your organization can still send out lovely invitations, have live performances, and even a signature cocktail recipe that is sent out prior to the event. Remember to make it fun. Communication is key to success.

Many Nonprofits Have Already Made The Switch

Software options like Zoom are a great way to get a bunch of people “together” in one place. In an article for Vogue, Lilah Ramzi describes a 200-guest virtual gala that was able to raise $20,000 on a Zoom call, while still being a blast.

The Houston Chronicle writes about a Interfaith Ministries, small nonprofit which delivers for Meals on Wheels. Instead of canceling their event, they are now delivering a catered meal  to event attendees, giving a taste of what they do. 

Make-A-Wish Wisconsin has already completed one virtual gala and ended up raising almost $600,000. They made use of Facebook for their live stream platform. In total, 750 people who either bid or made a donation. While they did not quite reach the goal of the in-person event, they usually are only able to host a 650 person event before selling out.

The Hartford Courant writes about the Connecticut chapter of the Red Cross as well as the Hartford Symphony Orchestra switching to virtual fundraisers. They are opening bidding and other event activities to the public as well as running auctions for more than just the evening in the original plan.

What If There Are Contracts For A Canceled In-Person Event?

If there were contracts with vendors and other hired staff for the event that your organization could not get out of, plan to hold a small event once restrictions are lifted. This might be hard to plan before more concrete information comes out about when society will normalize. 

You’ve Got This!

This is the time to find your inner “MacGyver.” Donors are still out there, and they may be ready to give even more to help at-risk-groups and pull together as a community. This is all uncharted territory; nonprofits have never had to do something like this before, but human ingenuity knows no bounds.

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