Some galas attract an older guest base, while events like primary school auctions skew the opposite direction, attracting a young donor base. Consider this when deciding your opening time and overall program/schedule.
As I work different events, I’ve noticed that retired Seniors arrive and leave events early. So if your cause attracts many guests in that demographic, opening your doors earlier than other galas in your city might be a smart move.
Additionally, I’d recommend scheduling the fundraising pieces (EG: the paddle raise and/or auction) early in the program to ensure any guests leaving early are still part of that activity.
If your crowd tends to arrive late and you want them onsite earlier (perhaps to participate in fundraising activities like a raffle or silent auction), offering an early arrival incentive might be a good approach.
Early arrival incentive activities might be a physical prize or an experience. What will tempt your guests to arrive a bit earlier? Some examples I’ve seen include a special sampling of locally made spirits, a drawing for a compelling prize, and a chance to participate in a private tour of the venue.