15 Questions You Should Ask About Your Gala

Three at a nonprofit fundraiserThe most recent MJA challenge was encouraging you to examine your gala/benefit results. Now it is time to get you to drill down a bit deeper to answer questions that will help you discover whether the event is creating the intended outcomes. As a reminder, we asked:

  1. What are three results you achieved by hosting your big event this past year?
  2. Are they different from previous years?
  3. Do you know what results you would like to achieve in the coming year?

If you can answer the first three questions, consider the following questions as a path to a deeper understanding of whether your event is truly successful. And consider – if an organization does not look better after a benefit, is it really a benefit?

If a substantial profit was on your list of results:

  1. Can you determine how many hours—staff and volunteer—went into the planning of the event?
  2. What didn’t happen in the office so that the event could occur?
  3. Is there anything else that could have produced a greater income if the time and energy was focused on a different aspect of fundraising?

If finding new donors was on your list of results:

  1. Were you able to introduce new potential donors to the organization during the event?
  2. Did you capture their information through a formal process?
  3. Did you have a plan before the event that outlined when and how you will next contact these new friends of the organization?

If engaging current donors in a more meaningful way was on your list of results:

  1. How many donors were new to the event planning process?
  2. How do they feel about the event and the organization after becoming more involved?
  3. Are there next steps to continue their involvement in the organization?

If having a fun, “friend-raiser” event for past, current and future donors was on your list of results:

  1. Did you encourage past donors to come in a special or targeted way?
  2. Were there special ways to ensure how guests who didn’t know anyone were engaged to maximize their enjoyment of the event?
  3. Did you have an “ask” at the event to remind attendees that you would like them to be donors?

If recognizing a person or people for their efforts to the organization was on your list of results:

  1. How did the people feel about the event – before, during and after?
  2. Were they recognized in a way that was special and particular to them?
  3. Are they continually contacted throughout the year to discuss next year’s event and how others could be recognized?

Hopefully it is evident that events can have many benefits beyond income. But whether the party is worth the organization’s efforts depends on the intended outcomes.