What You’ve Been Waiting For: Non-Traditional Style Gala
Are you tired of going to a gala where you are served a chicken dinner and are stuck at a table talking only to a few people? Would you rather send a check than actually go to the event? What if we were to tell you that we helped formulate a new fundraising model – a model that engages your senses, surprises you throughout the evening, excites you to interact with hands-on activities, and takes down barriers so guests feel comfortable to network with everyone at the event while donating to your cause.
We piloted this concept for The Nature Conservancy’s 60th Anniversary Gala and it received rave reviews from the 500 high-level donors, sponsors, guests & executive team raising over $1M for the organization. There was plenty of seating, no lines for food or at the bars, lots of incredible, interactive elements including activation stations surrounding their 5 pillars of work (land, water, people, climate & cities) and a passport system that encouraged the journey throughout the event. Much of the focus of the evening was on friend-raising in addition to fundraising and this event exceeded all of their goals.
This non-traditional gala model is an immersive journey into the brand of the foundation/organization filled with interactive elements and messaging at every turn. There is no traditional seating, there is no traditional experience and there is no traditional fundraising. The evening is filled with the unexpected, keeping guests mingling and moving throughout.
The gala begins with an enticing environment with image and video mapping either on the venue walls or the ceiling of the space allowing us to control the imagery, lighting, and ambience throughout the night. Projection Mapping is used to enliven and animate the surroundings of the guests. Guests mingle and meet beneath a beautiful projected sky, enjoying custom cocktails and delicious hors d’oeuvres. At the appointed hour, an immersive show unveils above/around the audience. Projection and a narrated storyline describe the organization, their area of expertise, their incredible vision and their story. Stories from and of their community unfold above our guests connecting them to and embedding them in the narrative we describe. As the projection show comes to a conclusion with uplifting music, ‘virtual fireworks’ erupt over the projections filling the roof with color and celebration, we finish asking guests to pull out their phones and “text to give”.
This proposed visual feast will have elements that are truly social media worthy as well as providing excellent footage for television coverage and stunning images for print media.
The event has soft seating available for guests, branded lounge groupings for high-level sponsors including a dedicated server, restaurant food stations for a strolling supper and activation stations to help tell the story of the foundation with a one-on-one experience.
There are also interactive fundraising components like text to give, volunteers roaming the room with iPads for someone to give on the fly and some more unique ideas like a fundraising wall where you divide a 10’x10′ wall into squares of monetary value. A person can remove a donation amount and give that donation. Behind that number is a part of picture. When all the amounts are gone, it reveals an iconic image about the organization, which can be raffled off at the end of the evening.
We believe this creative direction celebrates the vision of the foundation and creates an event to remember for the guests.
Photographer: Sheri Whikto Photography
Decor: Kehoe Designs
Production: Kishbaugh + Partners and Sound Investment
Lighting: Lightswitch, Inc.
Caterer: J&L Catering
Restaurants: GT Prime, GT Fish & Oyster, Duck Duck Goat, Gibsons Italia & RPM
Vines & Trees: New Moon Chicago
Venue: Northerly Island