Your Guide to Hosting the Best Virtual Gala Ever

As a non-profit organization, gala fundraisers are your bread and butter to help you get more backers excited about your cause.

However, hosting an in-person event is still risky, and comes with many overhead costs. Fortunately, event technology has come a long way in the past few years, and it's now possible to host a virtual gala instead. 

Planning an online gala can seem daunting if you're new to the virtual event world. But, the process is relatively simple, especially if you use a virtual event platform like 6Connex. Our experts are here to help you understand the tools and event planning logistics behind a virtual gala, as well as provide some creative gala ideas for you to use.


What is a Virtual Gala?

The simple answer is that a virtual gala is the same thing as an in-person gala, except everything is online. However, it’s much more detailed than that. Overall, the goal of a virtual gala is to provide a nearly identical fundraising experience for your guests, even if they’re attending through a computer screen. 

Typically, some of the elements you'll need to include in your virtual gala are: 

    • A live auction
    • Entertainment
    • Guest speakers
    • Detailed information about your non-profit organization

One way to make a virtual gala a bit easier to pull off is to turn it into a hybrid event. In this case, you have a mix of digital and in-person activities so that guests can choose the option that works best for them. When we discuss event planning for your virtual gala, we'll get into both fully digital and hybrid event solutions.


Creative Virtual Gala Ideas

Although a virtual gala won't provide the same kind of one-on-one experience for your guests, you can still make your event as engaging and entertaining as possible. 

Virtual Gala Ideas That Are Sure to be a Hit:

    • Virtual Casino Games - A casino is an excellent way to raise funds and deliver a high-class experience for your guests. In a virtual venue, players will go to different tables and interact with a dealer. The gameplay is the same, except the dealer handles the chips and the bets for the players. 
    • Virtual Game Show - Game shows allow you to create educational content to help your donors learn more about your organization. Plus, a little healthy competition helps keep your guests engaged. Options include Family Feud, Jeopardy, or a standard trivia game format. 
    • Virtual Scavenger Hunt - There are a few ways to have a virtual scavenger hunt. First, attendees can look for items around their house (or office). Second, they can search for digital items online (i.e., a picture of a dog riding a bike). Finally, you can have guests spot specific things during your event's live stream. 
    • Themed Gala - You can encourage guest participation by having them dress up according to your theme. Some themes can include a murder mystery, tropical paradise, Hollywood, or a specific decade (i.e., the 80s). Having a themed virtual gala also makes it easier to plan since you can tie everything to it, from the entertainment to the venue to the backgrounds of your virtual hosts. 
    • Instructional How-Tos - Besides games, another way to encourage participation is by showing guests how to make something. One perfect example is showing guests how to make specific cocktails. In this case, you can have guests participate with items they have on hand already. Just send them a list before the event so that they can get it all ready. Alternatively, you can send packages to attendees to ensure that they have all the right ingredients. 
    • Virtual Entertainment - Fortunately, hosting a virtual concert is pretty easy since attendees just need to hear the musician. You can either have a DJ play tunes throughout the night or have a band or singer live stream their performance. Another alternative is to use a virtual comedy or magic act to keep the event engaging. 


How to Execute a Virtual Gala

Now that you have some ideas about what to incorporate into your virtual event, let's discuss the logistics of making it happen. Whether you're hosting a virtual or hybrid gala, here are the elements to consider: 


Step One: Determine Your Goal

Typically, the objectives of a gala are to educate donors about your cause, highlight the successes you've had over the past year, and raise funds to kickstart the next year. So, you need to break down these goals into measurable elements. For example, if you're going to raise money, how much will you need to earn? What specific achievements have you made since your last gala? These details will help you curate content to share with your donors. 


Step Two: Pick a Virtual Event Platform

Although everyone knows Zoom, this type of platform is pretty limited when it comes to entertainment and interaction. A virtual event platform like 6Connex allows guests to be more proactive about choosing their gala experience. When looking at different virtual event technology, be sure to consider elements like: 

    • Technical Issues - How easy is it for people to navigate the software? Will you need a training session at the beginning of the event to show guests what to do? 
    • Host Control - Will you be in charge of what people can see or do during the event, or will attendees be able to explore on their own? 
    • Multi-Room Options - Can you host multiple rooms simultaneously?
    • AV Considerations - Can you show videos or play music through the software? Can hosts share their screens and mute participants if necessary? 


Step Three: Create Your Promotional Content

There are a couple of ways to share information about your non-profit with gala attendees. The easiest options are making a video or having live hosts and guest speakers talk to the audience. You can also do a mix of both. For example, you can show a video at the beginning of the event, then turn it over to a guest speaker to welcome everyone to the gala. In the latter case, having a script can help keep the comments tight and ensure that your event is on schedule. 


Step Four: Choose Your Entertainment Options

Many event companies have embraced virtual gatherings, so it's relatively easy to work with a company that specializes in virtual entertainment. Best of all, because everything is online, you don't have to be in the same city, state, or country. Also, many virtual entertainment options are cheaper than in-person versions because there's less overhead. Start with your headliner ideas (i.e., a game show or live band) and work from there. 


Step Five: Create a Run of Show

Once you have your platform and interactive content ready, you can plan an itinerary for the night. Keep in mind that virtual events often can't run as long as an in-person gala. It can be hard for guests to stay on a computer for more than two hours, so try to limit your schedule accordingly. 

Also, it'll likely take a while to troubleshoot any issues attendees may have at the beginning of the event. One option is to open the event early so that guests can ask questions before the gala begins. 


6Connex Can Help Your Gala Succeed

If you're new to the virtual and hybrid event space, let us guide you through the planning process! We specialize in all types of events, from virtual trade shows to in-person conferences. We can help to ensure that your gala runs as smoothly as possible on a reputable event platform. We’ll take care of the logistics so that you can focus on your guests. Contact us today to find out more.

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