It’s our first official post of the new year! Happy 2022! Woohoo!
(Don’t ask us where all of energy is coming from. You can guarantee that the holiday season has surely wiped us out too.)
But, because we’re the strong and capable individuals that we are, we’re not letting the holiday letdown get the best of us. Because we’re clean comedians! AKA superheroes for anybody who’s asking!
And that means we’re already gearing up for your next virtual gala. Whether your virtual events aren’t coming up until the next end-of-year party.
Or whether you’re starting off 2022 with a bang. So, shall we get started?
See Related: Top Clean Comedians For Your Next Virtual Event
What is a virtual gala?
In case you need a refresher (and maybe an aspirin), a virtual gala event is just like your in-person events. But online.
Virtual galas still offer the same opportunities as an in-person event like an online auction. But they also provide some unique opportunities to build up your nonprofit organizations’ tech savvy.
Oh, and did we mention that virtual galas broaden your audience by virtue of them being online? Yeah, that’s a pretty big plus!
Pros of a virtual event
- Fundraising efforts can still be accomplished through an online auction
- A live stream lets guests watch the event over again
- You can do a lot with a green screen
Cons of a virtual event
- Requires some knowledge in the AV department
- Can’t offer the same connection as an in-person gala
What is a hybrid event?
Virtual galas aren’t here to rule out an in-person gala event altogether. But in the meantime, a hybrid gala could be the very thing that helps you bridge that divide.
A hybrid event simply means that some people are attending in-person. And others are attending virtually. So really, it’s the best of both worlds, don’t you think?
Pros of a hybrid gala
- Offers the benefits of in person events
- Remains accessible for those only able to attend the event virtually
- Widens your fundraising campaign between virtual donations and in-person ones
Cons of a hybrid gala
- May seem smaller in-person since folks are streaming in
- The biggest challenge may be connecting in-person attendees to virtual attendees
A step-by-step virtual gala guide
Virtual gala ideas can be hard to come by. But that’s why we’re your best pal in times of stress.
#1. Include a welcome message
A welcome message is an important element of every virtual event or virtual gala. After all, if you’re going to be participating in an online event, virtual fundraiser, online auction, and more, you’ll want to know who to turn to as host!
Besides, everyone likes being welcomed into an event. It just gives it a more home-y feel, don’t you think?
#2. Incorporate pre-recorded video with the live event
This just makes the most sense for many nonprofits that might not have as many people on tap to keep the live events going strong. So any opportunity to entertain guests with a pre-recorded streaming video is less work for you!
#3. Fund a need and drive a purpose
An annual gala event can be many things. But especially in a virtual format, it’s important to drive a purpose home so that folks understand why they’re attending your virtual gala and what exactly they’re supporting in the virtual fundraiser.
Remember – your cause can be amazing in and of itself. But the messaging that accompanies it will determine whether or not people decide to hop on board with you.
#4. Make use of multiple channels
A virtual gala isn’t going to promote itself. So in addition to social media, make use of multiple channels to get the word out that you’ll be live streaming this year to raise funds!
That means previous guests, previous donors, neighbors, your local mailman – just kidding. But hey, maybe you’re particularly chummy with mailman Mark these days!
#5. Hire corporate entertainers
You could have the best event management software in the world. But you have to have the right kind of corporate entertainers to come in and make the crowd go wild! What else are virtual galas for?!
#6. Have celebrity guest appearances
You know what’ll give you more of an edge and more money in your fundraiser too? A celebrity guest who can amp up your peer fundraising like no one else can! They may even make for an awesome auction item too…
Bonus: What Is A Gala Event?
#7. Make virtual fundraising interactive
You want more donors, right? Then make your live gala an accessible fundraising event!
Let attendees donate via text message or get them to share their donation on social media. You’d be surprised just how much that kind of interaction can boost participation in the live auction and give your virtual fundraising competitors a run for their money!
#8. Include live music
If there’s anything we’ve learned from the past two years, it’s that live music is something of a delightful treat. So treat your guests even at the virtual gala to a musical group and make your virtual event all the more meaningful.
Virtual fundraising ideas
Okay, if you’re coming up dry with some virtual fundraising ideas, consider these options below. They may just be the one thing to take your virtual gala from great to awesome!
#1. Host a virtual paddle raise
We’ve all seen the movies where there’s a paddle raise competition between two main protagonists trying to beat each other out. Well, take the fun in that and implement it into your own virtual gala!
(We should clarify that we mean healthy competition. Then again, we don’t know what kind of auction items you’ve lined up for your virtual fundraising this year…)
#2. Do a silent auction or virtual live auction
Silent auctions are a great way to boost donor engagement and get some generous donations out of this year’s event. When it comes down to a split second decision, your virtual fundraising could actually exceed your expectations exactly like an in-person event could.
#3. Host a peer-to-peer campaign
If you’re hosting an in-person event with virtual attendees, peer to peer fundraising could be a great way to connect folks at your virtual gala! After all, isn’t that connection with others what virtual galas and virtual fundraising is all about?
#4. Hire a benefit auctioneer
A benefit auctioneer is an absolute must at your next event! They’ll bring their own host of fundraising tips with them and they’ll know exactly how to drive virtual fundraising engagement through the roof.
Besides, that kind of auctioneering could become great content for live streaming or for social media after the successful event. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
#5. Make up creative silent auction items
We’ve all been to a virtual gala or two that has the same kind of auction items – almost as if they’re displayed on repeat. So change things up with your upcoming event and come up with some creative opportunities to include!
You never know just how much it will amp up your virtual gala. And you might make some cool connections with folks in the process.
#6. Host a virtual golf tournament
Just because your virtual events are, well, virtual doesn’t mean you can’t be active at the same time! So go out on a limb and host a virtual golf tournament.
That way, you can heat up the healthy competition. And you’ll forever be known as one of those virtual galas who knew how to give a once in a lifetime experience.
#7. Make a special appeal
Odds are, the guests at your virtual events or virtual gala are being asked to offer their financial support in other areas too. That’s why you need to make it clear what exactly you are fundraising for and why.
With a special appeal, you’ll fund a need and get the right messaging across at the same time. It’s one thing to have a noble cause that your virtual gala is geared toward.
It’s a whole other ball game to get enough people interested in the goal of your virtual event as well. So make that appeal as personal as you can to get the guests at your virtual gala inspired to give!
Additional tips for an engaging event
What? You didn’t think we’d leave you hanging with just those tips above, did you? We’re talking about fundraising here and we’re in the giving spirit!
#1. Make use of the right tools
Your virtual event or virtual gala needs to take advantage of the best software out there. Whether that’s outsourcing to a virtual gala company or hiring a virtual event host to make sure everything goes swimmingly.
Luckily, there are plenty of tools out there to make your virtual galas the very best they can be. So keep your eyes peeled for any and every type of tool that can take your virtual gala to the next level!
#2. Include a chat feature
One of the biggest challenges that a virtual gala or virtual event faces is the lack of in-person interaction. But that’s not to say that your virtual events should have no peer-to-peer interaction at all.
Make sure your virtual events include a chat feature for guests to engage with one another. And even offer personal chat messages so that people can get to know one another on a more personal level – not just in the giant group chat of your virtual gala!
This will best mimic an in-person event. There’s always a couple of folks off in a corner chatting. So make that a possibility at your virtual gala, event, what have you!
#3. Encourage peer fundraising
The best thing about a gala or other fundraising events is the peer interaction. And with that comes peer fundraising.
This is a great opportunity for guests to encourage one another to give. Whether it’s a financial gift or the gift of a helping hand.
If you’re a nonprofit organization, you know that (quite literally) anything helps. So boost your gala support by encouraging guests to lift one another up!
#4. Share teaser videos on social media
We don’t care who or what it is. Every gala or event needs some kind of hype to get people interested in the events to come.
So share some teaser clips on your organization’s social media feed to get people excited! You could even do some gala or event trivia to get folks engaged online before the event itself.
And you could even hand out prizes online for them to redeem at the gala if they get an answer right. Now that’s not something you hear about everyday, is it?
#5. Make sure your platform is user-friendly
There are plenty of virtual gala or virtual event platforms out there. But you’ll just want to make sure that whatever platform you go with is as user-friendly as possible.
YouTube Live and Facebook Live are great options if you’re looking for something accessible and well within budget. And since most people are familiar with these platforms, it’ll make your gala or event all the more welcoming.
Besides, the last thing you want at your gala event is for people to be confused. That certainly wouldn’t get you to your fundraising goal now would it?
When it comes to your gala event, you want the best, right? It’s kind of like your baby.
You know, planning for months on end. Then watching it come to fruition and hopefully having a successful outcome.
Okay, maybe not quite like an infant human. But you know what we mean.
In the end, we hope these tips can help you make your gala event the gala event of your dreams! Or – who knows – maybe something better.
Keep Reading: Best Tips For Event Planners
Adam Christing is a professional comedy magician, virtual MC, and the founder of CleanComedians.com. He is a member of the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood and a popular corporate entertainer, magician, and virtual speaker.