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Choosing a Theme for Your Gala

September 24, 2014
It’s possible that your non-profit or charity is so connected to its donors and to the public that all you have to do is swing open the doors, plate some appetizers, and ask for cash. It’s possible – but unlikely (not to mention way less fun).

Mitch-Stuart, Inc. has a variety of charity auction travel packages available for non-profits to offer (always risk-free, of course), but it’s even easier to work with groups that have picked a strong theme for their event. Here are some tips on how to come up with that perfect atmosphere and setting for your soiree, in order to give your donors the fondest memories possible:

Dress to Impress (Or to Not Impress): The day-to-day grind is often about finding comfort: People seek comfortable modes of transportation, comfortable temperatures and, certainly, comfortable clothing. But pushing donors out of their comfort zone can be all it takes to transport them from the daily routine and into a new world. The easiest way to accomplish that? Dress codes. Making a party a black tie affair works, but experiment with other ideas, too: Costume or masquerade balls are popular, as are “white” parties (everyone dressed in the palest of pales) and even beach attire soirees (sunscreen is optional).

How to Play: Once everyone is dressed to the nines (or roaming around in flip-flops, depending on the theme), it’s time to get them mingling. Introducing donors to each other (and to your non-profit’s enthusiastic volunteers) helps them forge new connections, share experiences related to your charity’s mission and generally makes for a livelier, lighter atmosphere (the type of feeling that can help boost auction returns). Try putting people together through games; talking with fellow faux-gamblers around a roulette wheel or bean bag tossers can be easier for the shy, and theme-dependent games contribute mightily to the mood of the room.

From the Floor to the Block: Finally, a theme can help focus your auction item procurement efforts. Of all of the different no-cost, no-risk consignment travel package options available, wouldn’t it be easier if there was a linking idea, a mood to set or a locale to match? For instance, a theme like “Casino Night” is begging for a trip to Monte Carlo or Las Vegas. Taking your donors to a faux-beach? How about a trip to the Caribbean or a seaside picnic package? So much of the process of putting together a charity auction becomes easier when the planner can focus on one idea.

Combine a dress code, games and selected auction items, and you’ve got a theme. Black tie, roulette and craps tables and trips to Monte Carlo add up to “Casino Night.” All-white dress, horseshoes or croquet and a trip to New York gives you “A Hamptons Summertime.” Beach gear, beanbag or Frisbee tossing and trips to Florida or Southern California? Welcome to “Beach Night.” In each situation, you’re giving your donors a curated, thought-out party experience that will give them a chance to interact with you and your cause in a fun, light-hearted manner, all while supporting your good works.

Got your own gala theme ideas? Share them with us on Twitter @MitchStuartInc and at our Facebook page.