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Tired Of Exhausting Fundraising Events? Try An UnGala

Let’s face it, galas take a TON of work. Sure, it’s a great way to share your mission and recruit new supporters but the many downsides may be enough to ditch the event: 

  1. When it comes to running a gala, the moving parts seem to be endless. Securing sponsorships, coordinating volunteers, drafting a run-of-show, and forming a committee are only a few items on your to-do list.
  2. Not only do galas take immense planning but there’s always a fire to put out. You can expect something, usually out of your control, to go awry. From inclement weather to a keynote speaker not showing up, it can be stressful to say the least. 
  3. Galas can get pretty pricey upfront; the ROI might not be worth the funds and staff time poured into hosting the event. (If you’re unsure whether your event will be profitable, here’s a quick guide on calculating ROI). 
  4. As a fundraiser, your job isn’t over when the event is over; you still need to calculate the total amount raised and manage back-office tasks such as issuing donation receipts or sending out thank you letters.

This brings us to why it’s time to move beyond traditional gala. An UnGala (aka the non-gala gala) is a new fundraising trend that takes away the traditional components of a gala. It’s a way to free up your organization and staff, helping you focus energy where needed most and raise a lot quickly, with an even higher ROI. 

An UnGala (sometimes referred to as “Gone with the Gala)” is run through an online fundraising campaign where you invite your top supporters to join and fundraise for you (aka peer-to-peer fundraising).

Rather than purchase tables or tickets, they can donate the amount they would have otherwise spent directly to your cause. Your fundraisers can then invite their friends and families to give on their personal fundraising page. You can even solicit sponsors and offer perks based on the sponsorship level.

If you consider all of the expenses (and headaches) you would incur with a live event, UnGalas are the way to go. To help you get started, here are some considerations:

Choose Your Platform

So, you may be wondering, where’s the venue? Well, it’s entirely online. And that’s one of the best parts about hosting an UnGala – you’ll never have to worry about exceeding room capacity. It’s accessible, meaning that individuals who wouldn’t have been able to attend a live event can still make a contribution.

With all of the action taking place on the web, make sure your platform of choice is user-friendly. Since peer-to-peer fundraising supports everything from birthday fundraisers to marathons, there’s no reason why it can’t be applied to galas. If you want a centralized place where you can view your “guestlist” and the amount raised (in real-time), CauseVox has you covered

Ready, Set, Goal!

Setting Your UnGala Goal

Here at CauseVox, we can’t plug S.M.A.R.T goals enough. Ensure that your fundraising goal fits within the parameters of the S.M.A.R.T method: 

  • Specific – Define your goal; make it clear and focused. 
  • Measurable – Assign a number or, in this case, a dollar amount as a means to track progress.
  • Attainable – Dream big but keep your goal within the realm of possibility.
  • Relevant – Tie your goal back to your organization’s overall mission or to a particular objective.
  • Time-bound – Set a deadline.

Tip: Use a progress thermometer that updates in real-time to create a sense of urgency and motivate your donors. Incorporating a progress thermometer is a common gamification technique, and with CauseVox’s fundraising page, you can inspire your donors to help you hit 100% as they watch donations roll in.

Girls Inc. unGala fundraising goal

Set Your UnGala Giving Levels

To drive higher donations, try creating different levels of giving with donation tiers. In terms of an UnGala, think of donation tiers as a substitute for tickets. Be sure to offer your supporters pre-determined dollar amounts (i.e. $25, $50, $100, etc.) to choose from.

You can structure your tiers using the traditional Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Platinum donation titles. Or, it could even be something more creative tied to the overall mission and vision of your organization.

Loudon Therapeutic Riding Donation Tiers

You can also show the tangible impact of each donation, by tying each donation level back to a specific outcome (i.e. X amount feeds a child for a month). Either way, suggested amounts through donation tiers are proven to boost donations.

Consider Your Fundraising Timeline

Set a firm date for your UnGala and have people fundraise up through that end date. This is typically best within a 30-60 day timeframe to drive urgency.

To encourage giving on your UnGala date (aka the last day of your campaign), try having a matching gift in place.

Develop A Sponsorship Packet

Have a sponsorship packet replete with sponsorship levels and a solid pitch letter.

Girls Inc. unGala sponsors (right)

This might not be your traditional black-tie event, so there won’t be things like signage or reserved tables, but you can definitely get creative with your sponsorship packages and perks. If you need some inspiration, here are five ideas to help you get the ball rolling: 

  • Online logo display – Feature the sponsor’s logo on the gala or organization’s website and consider having a thoughtful blurb to go along with it.
  • Social media promotion – Showcase your sponsors across your social media channels. You might even consider having a sponsor-of-the-week or having the duration of time correspond with a certain level of sponsorship. 
  • Opt-in emails – Offer your supporters the option to sign up for emails or newsletters from your sponsor. With opt-in emails, you’re raising money for your org and your sponsor has the opportunity to grow their email base. It’s a win-win. (Note: This applies to certain sponsors such as corporations or businesses)
  • Exclusive “VIP” mailing list – With donor-segmented communications, let sponsors be the first to get the scoop on new and exciting developments about your organization.
  • Membership programs –  Similarly, if your organization has a membership program or a giving society, consider having a sponsorship perk being enrollment in the program. 

Once you’ve got your sponsorship packet crafted, it’s time to start sending it out.

A few examples of people you could send it to includes previous sponsors, local businesses, or board member’s corporate contacts. Just remember, if this is your first time reaching out to someone, be sure to talk to them first to gauge their interest before dropping them a sponsorship packet. 

Incorporate A Silent (Online) Auction

You don’t have to toss all the elements of a traditional gala if you don’t want to. 

Take the Neighborhood House Association (NHA) in San Diego for instance. Their virtual gala is the organization’s signature fundraising event and it’s been around for over a decade. To add a live event feel, NHA incorporates an online auction. 

If you’d like to go this route, be sure to research auction software options, secure items in advance, and to promote often. As with any fundraising effort, you won’t want to wait until the last minute. Advertise your online auction (especially the big-ticket items) as you normally would with a live event through social media, e-newsletters, and email blasts. Your event is virtual, but there’s still the metaphorical legwork. 

For more in-depth guidance on how to rock your silent (online) auction, check this out.

Brush Up On P2P Best Practices

Lastly, an UnGala isn’t your typical gala because there is no actual gala. Instead, an UnGala resembles a peer-to-peer campaign. 

Girls Inc. unGala fundraisers

Here’s a few quick tips to help you best manage your Ungala peer-to-peer fundraising:

  • Kick-off your campaign by sending an exclusive early invite to your major donors. This will give them the opportunity to create their personal fundraising page early and be one of the first to make their donation. 
  • Consider creating teams for VIPs, Board Members, Special Guests and any other groups you’re looking to highlight so they can all virtually “sit together” and fundraise. You can even have people “buy a virtual table” and have them create their own team.
  • As soon as the campaign kicks off, send a fancy invite to create their personal fundraising page, and include the link to the campaign. (Tip: Try using something like Paperless Post, an affordable way to make your email invitation seem extra-exclusive!)
  • Invest in your fundraisers. Once they’re recruited, provide additional resources to help them best get the word out. Provide them with a fundraiser toolkit including a promotional calendar, templated social media posts and emails, and more.
  • Create a specific email list in your email newsletter service for your fundraisers, and keep in touch with them throughout the campaign with stories of impact, fundraising tips, milestone updates, and more. 
  • Keep the momentum up by celebrating your Ungala participants. Highlight those doing well on social media and in emails so they feel appreciated.
  • Be personally in touch. Did someone just reach their fundraising goal? Is someone seemingly having a hard time getting started with fundraising? Personally reach out to congratulate, thank, and support them depending on their individual needs.
Excerpt from Girls Inc. unGala Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser Toolkit

A few P2P best practices are covered here but be sure to brush up before diving in. CauseVox has plenty of peer-to-peer resources to help you succeed even if it’s your first time running a p2p.

An UnGala Helps You Raise More Funds With Less Effort

With CauseVox’s peer-to-peer platform features, you get time-saving automation and real-time reporting so you can track your progress. CauseVox also offers personal and automated event communication like donation receipts, which means less admin time invested in post-event follow-up.

Get your UnGala set up today with less time and without the hassle.

Find out more about how you can run your Ungala on CauseVox.

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