At K2, our team runs hundreds of events from ice fishing, to small luncheons, to large galas for nonprofits. As is the case with most events, ‘all hands on deck’ is necessary to ensure smooth operations. I volunteered my time for one of the events our team ran recently and discovered what an immense amount of work goes into planning and coordinating these events.

Before working at K2, whenever I heard the word ‘gala’ I immediately pictured women in elaborate ball gowns, trumpet fanfare entrances and diamond chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. Now, this image was partially accurate – our team was raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for our client and there were major sponsors at the event. However, one thing I noticed is how inclusive the event was for every person, no matter the price point. If you’re preparing for your 2023 gala season, here are a few tips from a college student who had a great experience at this gala:

  1. Have options for all price points. You will be surprised at how quickly those small donations add up. One option we had was a $20 “Wall of Wine.” We received donated bottles of wine and we had guests buy a ticket to get a random bottle. This is a great way to raise $1,000-$2,000.
  2. Sell raffle tickets (you will need a gambling license). This is a great way to create enthusiasm around winning big ticket items. By selling a limited number for $100 or $200 you can quickly raise $10,000-$20,000.
  3. Have a game option! The gift card wall was by far the favorite game at this gala and we sold out. Many restaurants donated gift cards – we had over 75 cards, mostly $25-$50 price points with one big ticket winner. Members only had to spend $20 to participate and it was a great way to raise $1,000-$2,000.

These various price points encouraged participation and were exciting opportunities for attendees to either win big or try their luck again. Galas serve multiple purposes, one obviously being fundraising, but are also a great way for nonprofits to identify new donors (ps – I’m one of them now!).

As startup nonprofits begin to explore best practices for planning and operating successful events, remember that simple price-inclusive games are vital, not only for raising more money but for identifying new long-term donors.

– Mia