First things first, to ensure that nothing goes undone when planning a gala, you’ll need to create a schedule that delegates all of the necessary fundraising tasks by committee, subcommittee, and individuals. You will need everyone’s support to be successful!




8 to 12 months out
__Establish event goals. Your event goals and objectives pave the way for most of your decision-making. It takes time to properly articulate goals that are both achievable and agreed upon by the whole team.
__Determine your fundraising goals: Your fundraising goal will be the amount of money you want to raise for your organization. You may have an overall goal for your organization as well as individual goals for individual fundraisers.

  • Assess your ability: As an organization that is just starting larger fundraising events, it is important to review past events and campaigns but also the annual donations and major gift trends.
  • Calculate a challenging yet reasonable amount: Based on the current database, aim for $100,000 as a gala fundraising goal and $50,000 for a reception-style event.
  • Determine your stewardship goals: In addition to raising funds, events are great for prospecting NEW donors. Each new event should result in a minimum of 10 prospect meetings for future gifts.

__Determine the event budget. Creating a reasonable budget for your event can ensure that you plan accordingly, cut unnecessary expenses, and further your cause.
__Launch your committee and establish fundraising goals.



Tips for Making a Fundraising Committee Work

  1. Give new members orientation. Don’t just throw people in – set them up for success. Give them the tools they need to succeed and explain the who, what, when, and why of the committee.
  2. Create an agenda template for the committee. Give the committee an outline for their meetings to help them stay on track.
  3. Keep a list of action items. When someone agrees to take on a task, have someone make a note of it, then after the meeting, share the entire action item list with the full committee. This helps people remember what they said they’d do and also puts a little peer pressure on them to actually get it done.
  4. Thank the members for their service. Regular acknowledgment and maybe even recognition can be powerful. A text, a handwritten note, and even “thank you all for your good work” at a meeting or two can go a long way. If the committee is planning an event, thank them at the event in front of everyone.
  5. Make it fun. The more fun it is, the more people will participate, and the more they’ll enjoy their experience (which means they may do it again!). If appropriate, have a glass of wine at your meeting. Have the meeting onsite at your facility if that helps.




6 to 8 months out
__ Begin communications. Send an electronic save the date to your community and begin gala announcements on a regular basis.
__ Send solicitation letters. Actively solicit your donors and potential sponsors for the event. The goal is to be at 65% of your sponsorship goal before the invitations are sent.
__ Solicit silent auction item. Begin procuring silent auction items with a silent auction committee. Track your progress on a monthly basis and report progress to the committee.


3 to 5 months out
__ Send invitations. Whether it’s via snail mail or digital messaging, sending invitations at least 12 weeks before the event gives attendees plenty of time to confirm their participation.


1 to 3 months out
__ Launch an online auction. 2-3 weeks prior to your event day, launch the online auction and announce on all communication channels.


Post Event
__ Thank your supporters! Be sure to share exciting elements of the event, thank supporters, and celebrate the event with your community.
__ Follow Up on Night of Fundraising Activity. Email live auction winners with details, invoice supporters who have not yet paid, and deliver silent auction items in a timely manner.
__ Review your ROI. Your fundraising ROI is a measure of how much money you raise for each dollar you spend on fundraising. This includes the cost of staff time.



Our Tip on Calculating Fundraising ROI

Fundraising ROI is generally calculated separately for each fundraising tactic. To calculate fundraising return on investment for a given fundraising tactic, subtract the total amount spent on that tactic from the total amount raised, divide the result by the total amount spent on the tactic, and multiply by 100.

Fundraising Return on Investment =
[(Total Amount Raised – Total Amount Spent) / Total Amount Spent] x 100



As always, we want our amazing non-profits out there to be successful. We believe in you! You can do it! And if you need help, Toast of the Town is here to support you in that success!