As we plan our fall event, I am intrigued by these insights…
When told that it was a gala day for him, Groucho Marx responded, “At my age, a gal a day is about all I can handle.”
The gala — day, night, whatever — is a time-honored method of increasing awareness and raising money. But in his book “Fundraising Strategies for Community Colleges,” Steve Klingman recommended scrapping the gala event and replacing it with an annual fund campaign. For him, the gala day is more than many nonprofits can handle.
Klingman acknowledged the positives of gala events: fundraising, showing the flag, cultivation, recognition, volunteer involvement and people having a good time and feeling warm and fuzzy, but he maintains that they are overwhelmed by the negatives.
- A gala event has a low yield as a fundraising vehicle.
- A gala saps annual fund dollars. Rarely do event-driven programs co-exist with robust annual fund dollars.
- A gala pre-empts other fundraising efforts for a significant portion of the year.
- When staff time is added in, net revenue is too low.
- A gala focuses donor attention on the event rather than the mission.
- A gala distracts volunteers from more beneficial involvement. Using them to make annual fund calls is much better use of their time.
- Donors quickly forget a gala.
- A gala is expensive to produce. The cost of such items as dinner, facility and balloons can easily eat up 50 percent of each ticket.