It’s Gala Time…During a Pandemic?
Greetings! I know that many of us in development shops across the country are busy with Gala’s at this time. Normally, we would be working with our venues, selecting food, going over guest lists, managing floral and décor…the list goes on!
This year, boy, does Gala season look different. Who knew that we would have to become masters of technology and all things virtual! While an in-person Gala is time intensive, the virtual Gala is no different. It begins with things such as …how do we communicate with our donors and friends? Do we send a mailed invitation or just an evite? Do we charge a ticket price? Do we offer entertainment? How do we best recognize our sponsors? What is the best platform for our event? Do we film everything? Is there a LIVE component?
As the list continues, our heads can really spin! It can be quite overwhelming to learn many new things in a rather short time period, and, let’s face it, a lot is at stake because many of our Gala’s are big revenue generators for our organizations. No pressure, right? Yet, I am finding a silver lining in all of this and I want to share this with all of you. I have always felt that my colleagues across other not for profits are willing to share and provide their own insight and guidance. And, now, more than ever, I feel this to ring true.
As I prepare for a big October event for a client, I have found that when I pick up the phone and chat with those I know and those that I don’t about their experience with their spring or summer events, they take the time to talk with me. One development professional that I spent the most time talking with is someone that I had never met. This woman spent over an hour going over in great detail things they learned. What worked, and what didn’t. Many of these conversations helped guide some very important decisions on our upcoming Gala. I have always been lucky to have mentors and colleagues to call on. But, this time, it felt very different to me. The feeling I got after these resourceful conversations was…we really are in this together.
We may be working for other organizations across the community or the nation, but, ultimately, we all want each other to succeed. Beyond the “feel good” of this experience, I learned an important lesson. I will make sure that I am the next one in line to help my friends and colleagues, or for that matter, a perfect stranger, as they move forward into unchartered territory. It’s time for me to pay it forward. I encourage you to reach out to others – those you know and those you don’t – to help you with what is ahead. And when you are on the other side of it, join a host of others ready to take the call!
by: Susanna Decker, Senior Consultant HPS Chicago