Planning a gala can be an exciting process and it offers a great setting for you to share more about who you are, and how your funding engages existing supporters, and attracts potential donors and sponsors. In this three-part blog series, we will lay out some potential pitfalls that you should address during the planning stage of your event to ensure your gala is a resounding success. Initially, I’ll address – contract negotiations, event week management, and volunteer support.

  • Contract Negotiations: One of the first things on the list is contract negotiations with venues and audio-visual (AV) companies. Having clarity on the contract you are about to sign is crucial and we would even suggest planning a site visit or virtual call prior to signing to go through as many details and ask lots of questions so you don’t have any surprises later on that could eat away at your budget. Make sure you know exactly what is included in your contract so that you don’t incur any additional fees. If you plan to have any entertainment or talent at your event, consider meeting with them before you have your AV meeting so you can ensure there will be few, if any, additions down the road. This will allow you to ask questions and see if your AV company has any ideas to keep your costs low without sacrificing the impact of your event.
  • Event week time management: Be sure to allocate sufficient planning time during the final week prior to your event. Try to check as many items off the list early on to avoid burning the midnight oil and allow time for triple-checking your work to help avoid any last-minute surprises. This week’s schedule can fill up quickly with setup, rehearsing programs, sending out event reminders, last-minute printing needs and so much more. We recommend coming up with ideas for any event day issues that may arise and an example of this would be having a same-day registration plan. This sounds like a good issue to have but failing to prepare for last-minute unregistered attendees in advance can be daunting. You want to be able to get guests through the line as quickly as possible so they can enjoy the festivities with everyone else. For additional registration tips check out this blog too.
  • Volunteers: Another common pitfall is underestimating the number of volunteers it takes to make an event happen. If setup happens on event day, there are so many details that need to be addressed. As the old adage goes, many hands make light work. You don’t want to burn out your volunteers on event day in hopes they will want to come back, so having enough bodies to get everything done without overworking any one person is crucial. It can be helpful to host a virtual meet and greet training prior to an event to give them event details everyone should know as well as diving into specific needs. This can be especially helpful if you have made any significant changes. Volunteers will always help keep the budget lower but consider hiring an event coordinator to help manage your volunteers, vendors and more!

Taking the time to thoroughly review with your venue and vendors, pre-planning out your event week time, and recruiting ample volunteers will definitely give you the confidence you need to enter event day with ease. Keep your mission and purpose for hosting the gala top of mind even when planning the smallest of details. Stay tuned for the second blog of this series where we will address catering and Audio Visual planning pitfalls.

-Brenna Wood, K2 Event Director

Read the next parts in this series:

Part 2 – Gala Planning Pitfalls: Menu and Audio-Visual Pitfalls

Part 3 – Gala Planning Pitfalls: Great idea → Money Pitfalls