Virtual Gala Ideas: Fundraising Guide

May 4, 2021


Putting on a Virtual Fundraising Gala 


We may not be able to get out so much these days, but that thirst for a social occasion is still very much alive. It looks like mixing and mingling at large-scale in-person events won’t be on the agenda anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t take it online and throw an exciting and impressive virtual gala instead. 

In this article we will explore some of the elements to consider when planning a virtual fundraising gala. From the lead-up to your event, programming, and how to make it extra special for your clients and guests. 


Planning your gala online 


A good place to start is to outline all of the elements that you might usually include in a live event. Do you usually host a dinner or a drinks reception? Are there speakers, performers, musicians, or a mixture of all of these? Do you invite people to host a table of their own, or are tickets sold individually? Do you generally include an auction or any other interactive elements? 

After listing out these various programming sections you can then decide which you would like to transfer into the online space. There are always creative solutions out there. So if you aren’t sure what’s possible, just ask our team to discuss some ideas. 


Important factors for hosting galas online 


Many considerations will be very similar to those of an in-person event. But there will be extra challenges when it comes to moving an event online. How can we bring the energy of a live event into the online space? How can we make everyone feel like they are part of the event and really imbue it with a sense of occasion? Here are a few areas to consider.




This is a big factor with any live event. Looking forward to a special occasion and planning for it is part of the fun. People may just be logging on to a laptop in the sitting room, but we can still make an event of it! 

How about sending your guests a beautifully designed invite through the post? People might well be wondering what to wear to a charity gala event. So give them a fun dress code or perhaps a theme to dress their space for. Send them a cocktail menu with ingredients to stock up on, or even a party package of food and drinks to open on the night. 


Pacing and timing 


These are hugely important factors for any event, but even more so when planning a virtual gala fundraiser. In our ultra-connected world, people can be very easily distracted. So you’ll need to keep the program varied and dynamic in order to hold people’s attention. Short and sweet is the name of the game here. Ideally, the whole event should last between 60 and 90 minutes and be broken down into varied sections. 


Choice of host 


This is another key element for virtual galas and has a big impact on their success. You should choose a lively and reasonably tech-savvy host to lead the event and keep it flowing smoothly. This might be someone from your organization or it could be a professional master of ceremonies or host. 


Fundraising nuts and bolts 


You will need to consider exactly what means your virtual fundraising gala will use to raise funds. Should it be by selling tickets to the event only, or will you include some sort of auction or giving process within the event? 

Putting together a promo celebrating your achievements to date can be a great way to engage people and inspire them to donate. Using bespoke dynamic graphics to track the amount you raise in real-time can also be very compelling.


Audience Engagement 


It is important that people feel they are taking part in a virtual gala rather than being a passive viewer. This can be done in any number of ways. Perhaps by incorporating a game or a quiz into the program or even a best-dressed competition.

You could offer your guests a cocktail-making demo and workshop or invite a musician that takes song requests. We have quite a few tricks up our sleeves. So get in touch with the team for some interactive gala program samples and ideas. 




Virtual gala ideas could include many of those that you might offer at an in-person event. Music, comedy, keynote speakers, awards, or auctions can all be brought into the online space with great success. 

The more complicated the program the more challenging it can be to bring it all together smoothly. This is where some technical expertise can be indispensable. Having a team in place to look after audio-visual mixing will leave you free to focus on your part in the event. 

And there’s no need to confine things to the sitting room either. With our digital know-how, we could transport your speakers and performers into entirely different environments. Incorporating advanced graphics, augmented reality and 3D spaces can take your virtual gala to the next level. 

Get in touch with the SmartWorks team to discuss your plans. Together we will create a unique and engaging virtual gala that people will be talking about for weeks to come.