Between five and ten years ago, I started hearing chatter about involving young professionals (YP) at the fundraising gala.
“We need to get the younger generation involved,” was the general vibe.
In practice, this often evolved to selling a lower priced ticket to the gala. If a regular gala ticket was $150, the YP price might be $30. If the standard ticket was $500, the YP price might be $125.
This reduced price ticket allowed YPs to join full-priced guests and sponsored tables for dessert and dancing. The thinking was that just as the formal awards and fundraising program ended, the YPs would arrive with energy to add to the just-now-starting dance party.
For higher-end galas, I am seeing these YP parties disappearing.
In recent months, two clients put the kabash on the YP ticket. One gala is pushing $1 million in revenue. The other gala raises over $2 million.
Both event planners at each nonprofit have come to similar conclusions: The YP party isn’t worth it.
“We love our YPs and want to involve them,” one planner told me, “but there are better ways to do it. Different activities. Maybe a dance party. Maybe a wine tasting in a fun new venue. They shouldn’t be at our gala. It needs to be a different event.”
Logistics is one challenge.
If the venue doesn’t allow for a clear delineation of space, the YPs have nowhere to go upon arriving. They tend to “crash” the gala, creating unintended commotion in the ballroom.
Also, the guest experience falls apart.
As YPs arrive and check-in, other gala guests are trying to check-out and collect their auction items. The registration area gets clunky.
And there’s the subject of money earned versus time spent.
“It’s not like they are buying what we’re selling in the silent auction,” one client told me. “We kept the silent auction open late for them, but I checked the data. The amount they spend doesn’t justify the headache of the planning.”
Have you successfully integrated young professionals into your gala? If so, what’s working for you?
Or perhaps you’ve already tried it, and abandoned the concept for something else?
Post your thoughts below.