The Magic Of Event Planning – Top 10 Lessons Learned At Art Of The Gala

Yesterday we co-produced an event called Art of the Gala. The event was founded by Monica Williams and GivingCity Austin two years ago and earlier this year she approached me about assuming full production ownership of the event. I agreed under the condition that she remain involved this year as a co-producer and allow the transition to happen gracefully. And, thankfully she agreed!

Yesterday was an unbelievable start to the new direction of Art of the Gala. As always, we included tens of dozens of non-profit leaders throughout the state. But we amped up the speakers and the content to allow for a full day of networking and learning. The content was fantastic, the comments and feedback from the audience have been nothing but inspiring. We have 10,000 things we want to do even better as we move into next year. So….What are the top ten things learned at Art of the Gala:

  1. Corporate sponsors want to know what an organization achieves and the specific audience they serve. Being specific results in donations.
  2. Communication is key – in times of community crisis (hurricane recovery, etc.) it is critical for non-profits to communicate to their corporate partners about the support their clients need and the work they are doing to assist in recovery.
  3. Patience is required – if a corporate partner must shift their focus to emergency response then the normal projects they fund may not be funded at the same level that year – and patience is required by all parties.
  4. Social media managers must be present and solely dedicated to following social media engagement throughout an event. This allows for greater reach through hashtags, etc. and an immediate response to any attendee complaints or concerns. Speaking of – include social handles and hashtags everywhere to make it easy for guests to engage.
  5. Budgeting. Budgeting. Budgeting. Events should be done right or not done at all. And to do them right a realistic budget is critical.
  6. 80% of your audience at a charity event are attending as guests. Build your program to educate and engage those folks to recruit new donors to your mission. Nobody wants to hear a long speech or be lectured - be creative about how you tell your story and leave them wanting more, not wanting to die.
  7. Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself. An event is an extension of your brand. If the event is cheap and not well planned/half-thought out, then your brand will have that reputation.
  8. Know your audience. Pay attention to who is on your list and keep their contact information up to date. Not only does this save time and money in the long run, but it will allow you to be targeted in your marketing and achieve better results.
  9. Know when to say when – professional event planners can help you achieve bigger goals and allow your team to focus on marketing and cultivating new support for your organization. Don’t step over a dollar to pick up a dime – get the help you need to reach success.
  10. Everyone loves swag. Swag is NOT paper. Swag is thoughtful. It should be an extension of your organization’s brand and events. Swag smart.

We will soon announce Art of the Gala 2019! We hope to see you there!