5 Useful Tips for Gala Event Planning

By: Emilie Sennebogen

How fancy will your gala get?
How fancy will your gala get?

If an event has the word "gala" attached to it, you'd probably expect a festive affair, maybe even lavish. And you can bet that planning a gala will be a pretty big undertaking. There are so many elements that go into making a gala successful, especially if you're making it a fundraiser for a particular cause. But it doesn't have to be overwhelming or even complicated to pull off. The success of any event comes from mega organization and lots of planning ahead.Here are some great gala event planning tips to ensure your event goes off without a hitch, and have you ready to enjoy the party!


5: Set a Timeline

Much like a wedding planner, most gala event planners start at least a year before the date. There are a lot of areas of focus in planning a large event and each has a sizeable action item list. It's incredibly helpful to have a document that outlines an overview of the main things that need to get done and when they need to be done by.

Start on your first day of planning, which ideally would be at least 12 months out, and make sure all of the main points are addressed in monthly increments right up to the day of the event. As you get closer and more details need to be addressed, you may want to break it down into a week-by-week timeline.


4: Location, Location, Location

Also, just like with weddings, your location is a key factor in your event. One of the most important determiners for choosing your location is the date of your event. Many popular event venues book up months -- even years -- ahead of time, so you really can't pick a date until you're sure you've secured a venue.

The size of your venue will have maximum capacity, so it will also dictate how many guests you can accommodate. Also consider matters like parking and having ample space for dinner service and entertainment.


3: Commit to a Committee

Typically, putting together a gala takes a village, especially if you're planning a fundraiser that involves such time-consuming matters as ticket sales and marketing. So, as the planner, one of the first things you'll want to do is put together a committee so that you have the help you need.

Ideally, different people will head up each major aspect of the event. You can even divide up your main committee into smaller ones, which consist of staff or volunteers that oversee the bigger parts of the event such as ticket sales, sponsorships, programs, entertainment and decorations.


2: Schedule to the Minute

Granted, most of the hard work comes during the planning stages of your event, but most of the stress happens the night of. If you want to make sure your event flows smoothly, you're wise to create a schedule for the evening. Galas typically require a staff of people to manage food, drinks and the entertainment, and everyone, including your guests, needs to be aware of when things are happening. More information means more people who can help you put out fires.


1: Return on Investment

If your gala is a fundraising event, then your main goal is to make sure you actually raise funds. You can throw a $100-per-plate dinner, but if your costs for producing the event are too high, you may actually not see a dime of it. Therefore, you need to determine an event's feasibility, costs and likely success before moving forward. This requires research, and often, some prior experience, so you may want to consider a fund-raising consultant to help you figure it out.


Lots More Information

Related Articles

  • Bryan, Sharnell. "Tips for Creating a Fund-Raising Gala for the First Time." Philanthropy.com. March 1, 2012. http://philanthropy.com/article/Tips-for-Creating-a/52535/
  • "Gala Planning Kit." Childrensdyslexiacenters.org, March 1, 2012. http://childrensdyslexiacenters.org/forms/Gala%20Planning%20Kit.pdf
  • Personke, Shawn Elizabeth. "How to Successfully Plan a Gala Fundraising Event for a Library." Infotoday.com. March 1, 2012. http://www.infotoday.com/mls/mar03/howto.shtml