Wednesday, July 25, 2012

8 Reasons Galas Aren't The Answer

Galas are a time-honored tradition in the world of special events. They are a great way of raising awareness and money for your cause. Yes, a lot of people seem to love going to these ritzy events; but are they really right for your organization?

In his book "Fundraising Strategies for Community Colleges," Steve Klingman argued in favor of scrapping the gala all together in favor of an annual fund campaign. To him, galas are just too much trouble than they are worth for most nonprofits. While he acknowledged the positives of galas -- fundraising, cultivation, recognition, volunteer involvement -- he maintained that they are outweighed by a host of negatives. He listed eight of those downsides:

  • A gala event has a low yield as a fundraising vehicle.
  • A gala saps annual fund dollars. Rarely do event-driven programs co-exist with robust annual fund dollars.
  • A gala pre-empts other fundraising efforts for a significant portion of the year.
  • When staff time is added in, net revenue is too low.
  • A gala focuses donor attention on the event rather than the mission.
  • A gala distracts volunteers from more beneficial involvement. Using them to make annual fund calls is much better use of their time.
  • Donors quickly forget a gala.
  • A gala is expensive to produce. The cost of such items as dinner, facility and balloons can easily eat up 50 percent of each ticket.
What do you think? Do you agree that galas are simply not worth the time and money, or do you think they still have a place in the special event universe?


Steve Klingaman said...

Just to clarify, my discussion of galas related to their place in an a collegiate fundraising program. I think they have a place in many nonprofit sectors, depending on the particular circumstances of the organization in question. Having said that, development professional who stage events need to look at the personnel costs they incur even if those costs are not reflected in publicly reported net income figures.

~Steve Klingaman

History said...

Thanks for the clarification, Steve!