Virtual Galas: Engage More People While Raising More Money with Sara Hoshooley and Ine Van Aken

Using best practices and learning from past virtual and live Galas, this webinar provides info nonprofits can use for virtual gala planning.

Using best practices and learning from past virtual and live galas, this webinar hosted by Sara Hoshooley (Charity Shift Consulting) with special guest Ine Van Aken (One Girl Can) provides tangible takeaways nonprofits can implement within their 2021 virtual gala planning.

Learn from a recent case study where a charity raised 230% over their fundraising goal and had more attendees than ever before! In addition, hear from the Executive Director of an organization that was one of the first Lower Mainland organizations to successfully move their in-person gala to a virtual one in April 2020.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to prepare for your Gala
  • How to ensure the maximum number of attendees and donors
  • How to create an effective, fun, and engaging event that your guests will love!

Watch the webinar on engaging more people and raising more money with virtual galas:


Virtual galas are not the “new” normal, according to Sara Hoshooley, they’re the “next” normal. She predicts virtual galas will continue through 2021 and beyond.

Key Takeaways

“Virtual” does not equal “boring.” Find ways to engage your audience and keep your event short (one-hour maximum) and story-driven.

Opportunities for sponsorships are larger for virtual events than in-person events. Find creative ways to feature your event’s sponsor(s) and even get your audience involved (example shared: virtual wine and cheese tasting).

Maximize your fundraising by having donors pre-commit to donations before the event, coordinating donation matching, providing multiple ways for donors to give, and having tangible asks.

Pro Tips:

  • Help people navigate your online platform and give a tech how-to (don’t forget to show attendees how to connect their laptop to their TV for better viewing!)
  • Host a pre-event to help attendees sort out technical issues before the event officially starts. Make sure you have IT support available. 
  • Make your audience feel like they’re “part of the show” and not just disengaged spectators.
  • Don’t just think about who has attended in the past; think about who could attend now and in the future.
  • Consider tiered ticketing options (or by minimum donation), to make the event more accessible.
  • Keep your event short. Share your most important content in the first 35-40 minutes and have everything finished in an hour.
  • At the end, of the virtual event (before attendees sign off), announce your donations raised so far and choose an end date for online donations so donors know they can continue giving after the event.

Planning Your Virtual Gala Timeline

3-6 Months Prior

  • Choose a theme
  • Book your emcee
  • Choose your technology
  • Send save the dates messages
  • Confirm fundraising channels (website, text, auction)

1-2 months 

  • Send invitations
  • Develop a solicitation plan
  • Put together your staff and volunteer schedule
  • Create your event program

1-3 weeks

  • Have a tech/dress rehearsal
  • Follow up with key donors
  • Review details with vendors
  • Finalize all the content for your virtual gala

Event Day

  • Review all the details
  • Check that all technology is set up and working
  • Have a way to communicate with team/volunteers

Post event

  • Send out thank-yous, share reports and recordings
  • Remind donors that donations are still being accepted until your chosen end date
  • Debrief with your team

Don’t forget to have fun!

About the Presenter: Sara Hoshooley of Charity Shift Consulting

Charity Shift helps charities and non-profit organizations raise more money using best practices and proven fundraising strategies. Based in Vancouver BC, Charity Shift is led by Sara Hoshooley who has helped organizations raise millions of dollars to further their programs and causes.

About the Panelist: Ine Van Aken of One Girl Can

Ine Van Aken is the Executive Director of One Girl Can – a Canadian and Kenyan registered charitable organization on a mission to break the cycle of poverty and achieve gender equality through education and mentorship. Their unique holistic model empowers girls from the time they leave primary school until they gain meaningful employment. They do this through three pillars: building and renovating school structures, providing educational scholarships, and mentorship for long-term success in their chosen field of study.

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