10 Questions Nonprofits Should Ask When Planning a Gala

As the peak of the Summer is nearing, many corporations and non-profit organizations just like yours are starting to think about their annual appeal and chances are, they are also thinking about next year’s gala. While silent auctions, donning black ties and evening gowns, and deciding on fish or chicken cannot be discount from the list of important line items for a gala, there are a few things to take into consideration and ask when planning a gala:

1. What Is Your Goal? 

It is important that the key decision makers of your organization share the same understanding of what you are looking to achieve. Nice corporate parties have their place, but a gala is your golden opportunity for fundraising. It is critical that you or your event planner create a meaningful experience — one that balances fun with cause-related messaging — to encourage attendees to open their wallets and bring friends along next time.

2. Who Is Your Target Audience? 

When planning a gala, defining your goal and your audience drives everything else you do. For instance, an event geared toward major gift donors will have a much different feel than one geared toward long-time volunteers. The nature of your audience will impact programming, entertainment, the type of ask, ticket pricing and so much more.

3. Where Should You Hold the Gala?

Some of our clients like to host eventsown on their site so that donors can see the state-of-the-art facilities and equipment their support helped make possible. Depending on your goal and audience, a high-end venue might be a better fit

4. What Date Should You Select for the Data?  

When considering a date for your gala, staying away from galas during the holidays is e best advice. Many people are busy during the holidays, so that’s generally not the best time to host a gala. No matter what the season, be mindful of what else is going on — whether it’s other local charities holding events or a national celebration like the Super Bowl. Be sure to pick a date well in advance so you can line up a venue, catering,and entertainment as well as get on board members’ calendars, and send “Save the Date” notices as early as possible. Don’t forget to look at the Jewish holiday calendar as well.

5. What Types of Activities and Entertainment Should You feature? 

Again, consider your audience. A wealthy, older crowd will be comfortable in a traditional setting, with a formal sit down dinner and tasteful Jazz quartet. On the other hand, an audience that is young and hip will prefer a more casual environment with alternative or mainstream music. The more you are able to connect your mission to the entertainment, the better. For example, an organization that provides micro-finance loans to woman in Africa might choose an African women’s choir to sing traditional music during the gala. .

6. What’s Your Budget, and Can You Handle the Upfront Expenses? 

No organization wants to lose money on a gala. Do your homework upfront so you’re aware of all possible costs, and then stick to the budget. Hiring a professional corporate event planner is highly advised so they can assist in referring you to the right vendors, hand deposits and costs negotiations with the venue, catering and entertainment — that are due months in advance. Hiring an event planner ,who comes with experience and a Rolodex of vendors and contacts who can create an experience for your guests and take a big load off of your hands so you can focus on the fundraising is highly recommended.

7. What’s Your Income Model? 

A lot to think about here. Sponsorships allow businesses the opportunity to align themselves with your cause and help defray your expenses. Ticket pricing, of course, is key. Keep an eye on what other local charities have charged for similar events. And think about what your invitees will be willing and able to spend to attend.

8. How will you get the word out?

Will local magazines and TV stations donate free advertising? are you including social media as part of your campaign? What kinds of PR tactics can you employ? How will you tell your top donors about the event? A strong marketing plan will address these and other questions.

9. What Messages Do You Want To Communicate During the Event?

When considering the message you are communicating, the focal point should be one that will be heartfelt, moving and meaningful when delivered. If high-end donors are your audience, you might aim to convey the fruits of their generosity, such as research advancements, community outreach goals met or capital improvements. And remember: don’t be shy about asking for money. Be direct in your ask and communicate how gifts will be put to good use.

10. How Can You Connect Attendees With Your Cause? 

This ties in with my above point about creating a meaningful experience for your guests. Reinforce to attendees the importance of your cause and why their support really matters. You may consider a larger budget for video, visuals and editing in order to convey the “story” or your organization in an impactful video explaining the significance of their contribution. Also, be sure to invite those that directly benefit from your organization’s work; they can meet and mingle with guests, deliver a meaningful keynote address, or offer inspiration to guests.

Stay Fabulous. Be Inspired.

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Purple Rain { Be Inspired}

Although the weather is still iffy out there, the one thing I love about the transition between January and February is the upcoming season of wedding color changes where its once again safe to consider vibrant fun colors such as pink, aqua, plum, purple, and hues of those fun springs colors we all love. I was inspired by a friends at The Perfect Palette and decided to put together some fun color palettes together from past events so you start thinking about the Spring and Summer weddings that will be here faster than you can say “I Do.” Stay fabulous, be Inspired.

purple weddings

{THOSE THAT INSPIRE US}

Stephanie Williams Photography   The Wedding Wire, The Knot,  Withthisfavor.com  The Perfect Palate, Martha Stewart Weddings, The Cupcake Blog, Wedding Bee, SLS Hotel 

Baby, It’s Cold Outside {Winter Wedding Inspiration Board}

white wedding

Yes, I know it’s hard to believe, but people do get married in the Winter, and yes even in the snow. Living in sunny California, I can’t even imagine this concept myself, but with some inspiration from my friends in the East Coast, Winter Wedding do happen folks and they are beautiful. Below are some inspiration boards for your Winter Wonderland  wedding.

holiday decor ideas

winter wedding

white weddings

white wedding

winter wonderland

{Those That Inspire Us}

wedding lush, marilyns keepsakesintimateweddings.comzankyou.compinkcakebox.comweddingdresspicture.netvvlevents.comwedding53.comintrigue-designs.blogspot.com

A Pink-A-Licious Bat Mitzvah

I had the privilage and pleasure of orchestrating a Bat Mitzvah – the Jewish coming of age ritual in October for Dalia Vered, a special girl who comes from a family who is close to my heart and I admire on many levels. The desire of the parents was to have a happy occassion for the family and close friends, but not to have an “over the top” extravagant event with big stuff to get attention and even accolades from. It was about celebrating their daughter’s Bat Mitzvah and it was to be all about her and her happiness.

The color of choice was hot pink. The pinkest of it all was the candy bar that was exclusively designed by Event Pros LA for this event. A mixture of vintage candy, lollypops, rock candy and personalized candy bags and a 75 food hot pink carpet with “Dalia” embossed in glitter by The Original Runner Company who did a fabulous job.

Kosher catering was by La Gondola who out do themselves each event. This time Nir created several stations doing the cocktail hour which included mini bite-size appetizers beautifully displayed in bite-size dishes along with a taco station and passed hors d’evours. The idea of the stations flowed into dinner as well with multiple stations for guests to choose from. The highlight of the evening was the beautiful sweet table which included chocolate dipped apples with non other than hot pink sprinkles.

Hot pink satin rose linens were used on all the tables. Center pieces designed by Funtasia were made to look like mock dancers with tulle dresses and body made of pink flowers on each table. Even the gift box was made to look like a dancer. The dance floor was a round white dance floor with “Dalia” decal in hot pink. The Bat Mitzvah girl made her grand entrance with a professional crew of hip-hop dancers Andre Perez of So and Ashley

Me and the beautiful Bat Mitzvah girl Dalia Vered.

{Those Who Inspire Us}

Venue: Taglyan Cultural Complex

Catering: La Gondola Catering (Glatt Koser)

Photography: Ronni Sikolsky

Videography: Echo Produtions

Magician: Rob Rasner

Vendors: Hollywood  Photo Booth, 3D Cheeze, Glimmer Body Art

Rentals: CMC Part Rent

Real Events by Event Pros LA {Tom’s Bar Mitzvah}

I always get excited when I am set with a challage. Clients don’t always realize this internal challage that is set by them, but most often it is with the venue that the choose. The venue is often selected and than I am explained of their dream event… Walking into a green carpet room with wall to wall mirrors a la circa 1970 with matching green padded chairs doesn’t always make for a good start to make magic happen. The first thing I’m thinking when I walk into this room is white draping for the whole room…. Event Pros LA took this challange on and transformed the room into magic.

Not only was the room magical, but the event itself was so special. We had a very unique young with special needs to Bar Mitzvah and to make it a memorable day for him as well as his family The room was transformed by amazing draping with vivid terquoise, blue and silver color and no one remembered the green carpets or the mirrors.  IT doesn’t hurt when you also have an amazing photographer like Linda Kasian who knows to capture the most precious moments each and everytime.

Event Pros LA plans upcoming BizBash Annual Event

Everyone at Event Pros LA is so excited to be producing the upcoming BizBash Event on Sept 29th at the newly renovated historic Downtown Stock Exchange Building, now under the name ExchangeLA ExchangeLA.

Event pros LA

For those who in the fog, BizBash is the leading trade media for the event industry. BizBash publishes magazines and e-newsletters, hosts Web sites, and produces trade shows and award shows for corporate event and meeting professionals, event marketers, and sales, PR, fund-raising, and human resource executives.

Joining the not-to-be-missed industry event is none other than the fabulous LA Spice who specialize in serving amazing food (rather than good food) will serve up a pallet of appetizers for all the guests to indulge in. Check them out at www.laspice.com

 The famous Magnolia Bakery from Bleeker St in New York that recently opened their doors in LA will host an oustanding Dessert Bar. Stay tuned for more details!

Something Blue {An Inspiration Board by Event Pros}

Years ago, brides were using small sashes and ribbons to accent their whole white wedding which was thought of as unique and creative. Today, brides are using an array of hues to cover every inch of their wedding, to bring out their personality in their decor, flowers, dresses and shoes.

For the past several seasons, brides have been wearing blue shoes and really getting creative with blue details throughout their wedding reception. Below is an inspiration board by Event Pros LA to help our brides that love the color blue and want some fabulous ideas for their upcoming wedding.

Some of our favorite weddings have been incorporating blue details such as chair cover sashes, blue shade glass cylinders in the middle of the table to give your blue wedding different blue hues and accents. Another fun idea to incorporate blue into your special day is through your bridesmaids. Why not find a stunning blue dress to accent the wedding. It can really make a bold statement!

New Year, New Venues

It’s always exciting when a new year starts. It seems that optimism is in the air, people are excited and ready to go on new ventures in their lives.

I’ve spend the last few weeks looking at venues and finding locations off the beaten path for my clients. I am always excited when I find places that are not your traditional wedding hall that are the perfect match for my clients. Today was one of those fabulous days.

I went with a client to Marvimon (www.marvimon.com) which is a fabulous location near downtown. Originally built by an Italian race car driver as one of LA’s first automobile showrooms is now an amazing loft, that has a Chicgo-style feel to it with exposed beams, red brick walls, show-off kitchen and a garage-like door that swings open to a oh-so-awesome court yard that is just the perfect size for a ceremony.

Under the same ownership is The SmogShoppe (http://www.miguelnelson.com/smogshoppe.html) which is yet another fabulous place that was once a smog-check center that is now 100% solar-powered indoor/outdoor venue surrounded by desert plants, vintage furniture and amazing little areas with decor, book collections, paintings and more.

As an event planner, I always hope that my client will walk into a space I show them and be in love.  When my client walked in, her face lit up and I knew she found the perfect place for their wedding.

If you are looking for a space for a big elaborate wedding, this is not the place for you. This is an intimate space for 100 guests or so. It is a perfect space for couples who are looking for an intimate wedding in a unique space that down plays all the glits and glamour of most posh hotels and venues.

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