Fundraising Gala cover image
Friday, May 25th 2018

5 Keys to a Great Fundraising Gala


5 Great Ideas from the 2018 Utah Humane Society Gala

Utah Food Services had the opportunity to participate in the Humane Society’s 6th annual Wags to Wishes Gala, at the Union Event Center. UFS has been catering in Salt Lake City for over 24 years and stand-out events like this one reinforce our love of providing top-notch food and service to our local community partners. From the organizers of the event to the people who support the cause, it’s always a heartwarming experience to see so much good in the world. Here are five takeaways from the Humane Society Event, a fundraising gala that was a wonderful success.

1. Meet and Greet

It’s important to put a lot of thought into how your guests will feel the minute that they walk into the event. For example, a Maitre d’ welcomed each guest attending the Humane Society Gala with a champagne flute and ceremoniously guided them to a festively lit staircase which led to a grand overlook of the stage and seating area.

2. Keep the Prestige

Hire a photographer, make it easy for attendees to showcase their experience on social media (that’s important to people nowadays). Reach out and recognize people for their contributions. The Economist wrote an excellent article titled, Looking good by doing good where they emphasize that:

“The crucial thing about charity as a means of image building is, of course, that it can work only if others know about it and think positively of the charity in question. So, the academics argue, people should give more when their actions are public.”

3. Invest in your Event

Know where you can cut corners and where you can’t. Don’t skimp on hors d’oeuvres and do keep the alcohol flowing. Your guests paid for their tickets, in their eyes, they are entitled to as many treats and drinks as they want. The better you make them feel, the more likely they’ll be to cut a check. Social psychology backs this theory up inside the theory of reciprocity. On a very basic level, this theory states that people are more likely to do something for you if you first do something for them (i.e., donate to your cause.)

4. Excite and Inform

Make sure that the key players from your organization work the room and share their enthusiasm about your cause as well as their roles and vision. Talk about the plans that your organization has for the future and tout the accomplishments from previously raised funds. Make people feel like their money is going toward a worthy cause.

5. Show them Where the Money Goes

Don’t make your guests feel like you have your hand in their pockets, instead engage, entertain and enlighten. Subtly remind your donors of your mission by example. Who doesn’t love a cuddly puppy?  The guests at the Humane Society of Utah Gala, not only enjoy great food and drink but, they get to play with adoptable animals and see how their funds care for these beloved pets. It’s also important to know when to ask for donations, don’t ask them to get out their checkbooks the minute they walk through the door. Ease them into it; they know what they signed up for, treat it like a first date… don’t ask for too much too soon.

All events start with a purpose and end with a lasting impression. The difference between a good event and a bad event is communicating your purpose efficiently. It’s the job of the event staff to make sure the lasting impression is a positive one. The event, after all, tells a story about your brand. Jeff Bezos said it best, “Your brand is what they say about you when you’re not in the room.” So go out, make it count, and have a great event!

Emma Farr, Marketing Manager at Utah Food Services

Kate Sullivan, Marketing Director at Utah Food Services





For more information about our food, services and catering, please sure to visit our Caterers Blog every week.


3 thoughts on “5 Keys to a Great Fundraising Gala”

  1. Ahmad K says:

    Great article! And I love the new branding. We’ll use some of those tips in our next Lupus Gala!

    1. Kate Sullivan says:

      Thanks Ahmad for continuing to be our guiding light!

  2. Excellent Catering Services says:

    Great post
    Thanks for sharing

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