Setting a gala strategy in light of COVID-19

To date, 6 trainings have been held on virtual galas. 

The recordings & pre-work videos for each conversation are now available for you to watch -- for free!

Enjoy ~8.5 hours of education.

CONVERSATION #1 (recorded March 27, 2020)

Feeling uneasy?  Scared?

The communication around the coronavirus has been unrelenting; it's impact on our industry far-reaching.

Over the past weeks, I've spoken with dozens of people, watched hours of “live, online events,” and formed a few opinions.  Let's talk about some realistic ideas.

In this conversation I'll share what plans I'm advising to clients for their fundraising auction galas over the next 6 months.

Topics covered:

  • Creating connection and community in an age of physical distancing
  • The most important lessons learned from the trailblazers of virtual galas.
  • Understanding terminology to get the right technology
  • Shall we talk numbers?  Virtual galas aren't "free"
  • Results: What to expect if you transition to an online-style event

CONVERSATION #2 (recorded on April 10, 2020)

Change is happening fast!

Since Conversation #1 two weeks ago, new styles of online galas have emerged.

"Stay in place" policies mean the livestreams from a studio are no longer ideal.  The latest galas are using different technology tools. 

It's time for a second complimentary conversation to review new options.

Topics covered:

  • The four types of virtual galas being used by nonprofits
  • Examples of pre-recorded virtual galas versus “hybrid” events
  • Exploring "Your Big Why"
  • What needs to change beyond just using new technology

Additionally, I want to continue the conversation on how to ...

  • create connection and community in an age of physical distancing.
  • the most important lessons learned from the trailblazers of virtual galas.

CONVERSATION #3 (recorded on May 12, 2020)

Your goals, state of residence, and comfort with technology will determine the best approach for a virtual auction gala.

In prior conversations, I've talked through and shown examples from professional studios, homemade studios, pre-recorded options, "stay-in-place" options using webinar systems, and several hybrid options.

With so many using Zoom webinar right now in their professional jobs, it's a natural system for us to use as a basis for a virtual gala demonstration. 

During the Conversation #3, we demonstrated some examples of how you might use elements of Zoom for a virtual gala.

Topics covered:

  • Zoom rooms
  • How live auction bidding might work
  • Managing Fund a Need donations
  • Auction software while using Zoom

CONVERSATION #4 (recorded on June 11, 2020)

The virtual gala dust is starting to calm – online galas are settling into 5 different approaches. 

In late April, I mentioned that fully integrated software was on the horizon. It would combine bidding, live-streaming, and chat in the same viewing window.

It's done!  Live integrated systems (sort of a studio/webinar combo) are starting to be used by nonprofits.

(You'll see at least 2 examples of these systems in the video pre-work I'll share. Once you see it, you'll understand how it's different.)

And, we have yet another new virtual gala approach being formed.  The latest style is tied to States' cautious re-openings.  As local governments ease group size restrictions, some clients talk about the ability to host "mixed" events -- AKA "hub-and-spoke" ... AKA "hybrids."

Topics covered:

  • The (now!) 5 approaches to virtual auction galas
  • Advantages and disadvantages to each approach
  • Zoom demo, including Zoom rooms, live auction bidding, and Fund a Need bidding

CONVERSATION #5 (recorded on October 6, 2020)

One of my client's took a community-minded approach with her virtual gala, working to showcase local businesses before and during the gala via Wow Boxes and videos.

I think the Foundation has now set itself up for greater support and donations in 2021, 2022, and beyond.

In this conversation, I interview the Foundation’s Executive Director about her #LiftUpLocal Experience Boxes, or a "Wow Box."

Topics covered:

  • How did the #LiftUpLocal idea evolve?
  • What was the response from local businesses about the boxes?
  • How did you manage implementation? Any challenges or hard decisions?
  • Did it make sense financially?  What was the response?

CONVERSATION #6 (recorded on January 6, 2021)

Though I had covered some content in prior talks, it deserved a fresh conversation because …

  • Things change. 
  • I learn new tricks. 
  • And we’re entering 2021 with virtual galas still going strong for 6-12 months.

I shared about the types of virtual galas currently happening so you can decide the best format for your nonprofit.

You’ll see 2020 videos of me working various styles of virtual galas, and also some good and bad experiences from my work.

Register here to access the recordings of these Webinars


About your presenter…

Sherry Truhlar is President of Red Apple Auctions, a boutique auction firm specializing in fundraising events.  Since 2005 she’s been a trusted educator for auction planners seeking to improve the profitability of their galas. 

You might have seen her onstage working an auction, speaking at AFP's Planet Philanthropy or Bridge conferences, or read her insights in The NonProfit Times, Florida’s Sun Sentinel, Town & Country, The Washington Post Magazine, Missouri Meetings & Events, or a dozen other media outlets. 

Though based in the Washington, D.C. area, she maintains her bliss by sidestepping the political scene. 

Red Apple Auctions Co., PO Box 6066, Arlington, VA 22206
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