I’m a big fan of Seth Godin. I mean, who isn’t? The man creates content (amazing content) faster than we can read it. And when we do, we all nod our heads and think, ‘I’m with you, Seth. Excellent point.’ But this time? Not so much. His recent rant about galas drives event fundraisers like me over the edge. Because within seconds, he discredits a fundraising tool that is, when done right, incredibly effective in building community, strengthening donor relationships, and yes, raising money. A lot of it.
So what do I mean by done right? Simple. The event is:
- Mission-driven. It’s cause first, party second. It’s an evening program that highlights your programs in unexpected ways. Like serving a vegan dinner if you’re an animal-rights charity.
- Unique. No rubber chicken dinners here. The gala format is a framework, not a one size fits all approach. It means flipping the program on its head. Like dropping the live auction and giving the time back to your guests to chat, laugh, and reconnect with friends and your cause.
- Donor-centered. You celebrate the people in the room. Your advocates, your influencers. You think of ways to make them feel special about their giving. Like surprising them with a handwritten note at their place setting that says, ‘Thanks for being here. And forget the flowers, your generosity is our centerpiece is tonight.’
Galas are ‘corrupting?’ Really, Seth Godin? I disagree. When done right, galas are a celebration of the charitable community. And certainly worth the time and effort.