A few years ago I worked with an American Heart Association chapter located in a less populated area. Because of their size and budget differences, they approached their gala differently than the larger chapter I worked with in Washington, D.C.
To conserve money on design and printing, they collaborated with two other regional AHA chapters. All three used the same gala theme each year in their respective locations. The marketing materials, forms, and even some decorative pieces of the ballroom were shared among them. They split the costs of a designer who created the invitation, sponsor packets, and other marketing materials.
It was an identical gala being carried out in three different locales.
For nonprofits who don’t have a sister chapter, you can save on expenses in another way. Consider branding your gala with a clever name you can use annually.
I talk about this concept in the video below.
Some nonprofits fall into a rut of calling their event “the annual gala and auction.” Although this might accurately describe your event, it lacks punch. It also opens the door for changing the theme every year, which can be expensive.
For instance, “the annual gala and auction” might have a Western theme this year, a beach theme the next, and a space theme the following year. Though a few props can be re-used in many gala auction themes, most decor elements are just one-off decorations.
What if you branded your event for a period of time, perhaps five years? You could budget with those expenses in mind.
I talked about three gala auction theme / brand concepts in the video. Here’s a photo showing the most simplistic example of the three.
This cover is from a nonprofit’s annual autumn event. The group uses an identical program cover every year, only changing the number: “Last kiss of summer 7.” “Last kiss of summer 8.” “Last kiss of summer 9.”
Once you’ve got a name you like, get a workable design to match it. Then use it for several years. You’ll reduce your expenses while building the brand of your gala.
Want more ideas related to this subject of gala auction themes?
I’ve developed a couple of training tools that tie into it.
First, you shouldn’t be talking about branding unless you’re also talking about marketing. These two subjects go hand-in-hand.
So for the volunteer managing your public relations and marketing, Marketing your Auction is the training tool for her. Learn more about this training (and the plush bonus that comes with it) on this page.
A second training shares themes, centerpiece and decor ideas from shabby chic / cheap to “over the top.”
More importantly, it plants the seeds of how your committee can be cost-effective with a decor budget and still have an event that impresses.
The program is called Creative School Auction Themes, Centerpieces, and Décor: Simple-to-sophisticated designs, ideas and activities that make ANY size auction memorable & profitable. Learn more and check out the opening minutes of the training on this page.
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